Horizontal Analysis Vs Vertical Analysis: How To Use Them To Drive Business Success

It shows the changes in the amounts and percentages of each line item from one period to another. For example, you can use horizontal analysis to see how the revenue, expenses, and net income of a company have changed from year to year or quarter to quarter. Horizontal analysis can help you identify trends, patterns, and growth rates in the financial performance of a company. Horizontal analysis (also known as trend analysis) looks at trends over time on various financial statement line items.

  1. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.
  2. This allows you to see how each account on the balance sheet and income statement has increased or decreased in dollar terms over the periods analyzed.
  3. When Financial Statements are released, it is important to compare numbers from different periods in order to spot trends and changes over time.
  4. Indeed, sometimes companies change the way they break down their business segments to make the horizontal analysis of growth and profitability trends more difficult to detect.

For example, using financial ratios can be helpful in determining costs or identifying changes in processes to increase savings. Thereby, achieving a goal of the budgeting process to determine the firm’s game plan. This ratio is a https://business-accounting.net/ measure of the ability of a firm to turn Inventory into Sales. In this case, the higher the ratio, the better the business is using Inventory. Because they are turning over their Inventory without the cost of it becoming obsolete.

Indeed, sometimes companies change the way they break down their business segments to make the horizontal analysis of growth and profitability trends more difficult to detect. Horizontal analysis, also known as trend analysis, is a financial analysis technique that compares financial data over a series of reporting periods. It involves calculating the percentage change for line items on financial statements from one period to the next. Horizontal and vertical analysis are complementary tools that can be used together or separately depending on the purpose and scope of your financial statement analysis. You can use horizontal analysis to track the performance of a company over time and identify any significant changes or deviations from the expected or desired results.

Contrasting Horizontal and Vertical Analysis

This information helps you understand whether your business is growing or declining, allowing you to make strategic adjustments accordingly. In horizontal analysis, you will focus on year-to-year changes in financial statements to evaluate the performance and growth of a company over time. This analysis involves comparing data from different periods and calculating percentage changes to identify trends and patterns. By utilizing trend analysis and examining percentage changes, you will gain insights into how the company’s financial position has evolved and make informed decisions based on this information.

In this way, percentage changes are better for comparative purposes with other firms than are actual dollar changes. The comparative statement is then used to highlight any increases or decreases over that specific time frame. This enables you to easily spot growth trends as well as any red flags that may need to be addressed.

If this is the case, you need to address and solve the problem or the company’s reputation and future may be at stake. Besides analyzing the past performance, analysis helps determine the strategy of a company moving forward. In general, an analysis of Financial Statements is vital for a person running a business. Because this analysis tells these business owners where they stand in their financial environment. So join us as we explore the world of vertical vs horizontal analysis and equip yourself with the tools necessary for comprehensive financial evaluation. Compute the percentages using the equation analysis year amount / base year amount and then multiplying the result by 100 to get a percentage.

What Are Some Common Tools Used for Horizontal Analysis?

Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. First, a direction comparison simply looks at the results from one period and comparing it to another. For example, the total company-wide revenue last quarter might have been $75 million, while the total company-wide revenue this quarter might be $85 million. This type of comparison is most often used to spot high-level, easily identifiable differences.

If revenue was $100,000 in 2019 and $150,000 in 2020, horizontal analysis would show a 50% [($150,000 – $100,000) / $100,000] increase in revenue from 2019 to 2020. On the other hand, horizontal analysis looks at amounts from the financial statements over a horizon of many years. Second, a variance analysis determines not only the dollar amount but the direction of change for a given general ledger account. All items on the balance sheet and income statement for the year 2008 have been compared with the items of balance sheet and income statement for the year 2007.


An absolute comparison involves comparing the amount of the same line of the item to its amounts in the other accounting periods. For example, comparing the accounts receivables of one year to those of the previous year. Once the base year has been determined, you can calculate the net dollar change for each line item on the financial statements by subtracting horizontal analysis is also known as the base year amount from subsequent years. Our final comment about performing a horizontal analysis deals with the difference between a percentage change and a percentage point change. This key distinction is oftentimes ignored, which leads to confusion when trying to interpret metrics that are expressed in percentage units across time.

It can also help you assess the financial strengths and weaknesses of a company, such as its liquidity, leverage, or profitability. However, vertical analysis may not reflect the true value of the financial elements of a company, as it does not consider the quality, quantity, or timing of the financial data. We can see the share of fixed assets increased while current assets declined as a percentage of total assets.

It does not provide information about the overall profitability or performance of a company. For this reason, it is often used in conjunction with other analytical tools such as horizontal analysis. Additionally, vertical analysis relies heavily on accurate and reliable financial data.

It’s often used when analyzing the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. A notable problem with the horizontal analysis is that the compilation of financial information may vary over time. It means that elements of financial statements, such as liabilities, assets, or expenses, may change between different accounting periods, leading to variation when account balances for each accounting period are sequentially compared.

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