The process of identification begins by considering the obvious characteristics. For example, you know that a hotel would not have any significant inventory since it is a service activity. I used three major groupings: Service Industries, R&D Investments, and Consumer or Retail Based.
Service Industries: Temporary staffing agency, hotel and airline; balance sheets are C, D, I & J. Eliminate J since it has a high R&D component which is unlike any of the indicated service industries.
I is the temporary staffing agency since it has a relatively low % of net plant relative to assets. The primary resource of a staffing agency are the temporary workers who cannot be carried as either inventory or net plant since they are human!
D is likely to be the airline since it has high unearned revenue which reflects the prepaid tickets purchased for future air travel. It also has some Accounts Payable which partially reflects those frequent flier miles we all accumulate.
C remains as the hotel which has high goodwill due to industry consolidation activities wherein other hotel firms are acquired at a premium relative to book value.
R&D Based Firms: Software, On-Line Retailing, Pharmaceutical and Communication Equipment. Financial statement candidates would be A, F, G & J.
J is the software firm since it has substantial R&D investment relative to sales with a high gross margin since software is cheap to duplicate. Very low inventory since there is relatively little cash investment.
A is clearly the on-line retailer since it is losing money. Low inventory and accounts receivable since it sells by credit card and manages its inventory very aggressively.
G is the communication equipment firm since it has the lower profit margin and longer accounts receivable typical of a firm successfully bidding for government contracts.
F remains as the pharmaceutical firm since it has higher margins due to the ability to...