Types of financial analysis

Financial analysis involves the review of an organization's financial information in order to arrive at business decisions. This analysis can take several forms, with each one intended for a different use. The types of financial analysis are:

  • Horizontal analysis. This involves the side-by-side comparison of the financial results of an organization for a number of consecutive reporting periods. The intent is to discern any spikes or declines in the data that could be used as the basis for a more detailed examination of financial results.
  • Vertical analysis. This is a proportional analysis of the various expenses on the income statement, measured as a percentage of net sales. The same analysis can be used for the balance sheet. These proportions should be consistent over time; if not, one can investigate further into the reasons for a percentage change.
  • Short term analysis. This is a detailed review of working capital, involving the calculation of turnover rates for accounts receivable, inventory, and accounts payable. Any differences from the long-term average turnover rate are worth investigating further, since working capital is a key user of cash.
  • Multi-company comparison. This involves the calculation and comparison of the key financial ratios of two organizations, usually within the same industry. The intent is to determine the comparative financial strengths and weaknesses of the two firms, based on their financial statements.
  • Industry comparison. This is similar to the multi-company comparison, except that the comparison is between the results of a specific business and the average results of an entire industry. The intent is to see if there are any unusual results in comparison to the average method of doing business.