# How to Use Common Size Analysis to Compare Companies to Peers

For analyzing financial structure, the balance sheet or statement of financial position, provides the most clarity. The common-size percentages on the balance sheet explain how our assets are allocated OR how much of every dollar in assets we owe to others (liabilities) and to owners (equity). Many computerized accounting systems automatically calculate common-size percentages on financial statements. The common-size percentages on the
balance sheet explain how our assets are allocated OR how much of
every dollar in assets we owe to others (liabilities) and to owners
(equity). Many computerized accounting systems automatically
calculate common-size percentages on financial statements. The common size version of this income statement divides each line item by revenue, or \$100,000.

They can also look at the percentage for each expense over time to see if they are spending more or less on certain areas of the business, such as research and development. On the balance sheet, analysts commonly look to see the percentage of debt and equity to determine capital structure. They can also quickly see the percentage of current versus noncurrent assets and liabilities. Financial statements that show only percentages and no absolute dollar amounts are common-size statements.

1. The first row, which is net income as a percent of total sales, precisely matches the common size analysis from an income statement perspective.
2. Conducting a common size balance sheet analysis can let you quickly see how your assets and liabilities stack up.
3. For the liabilities, each liability is being calculated as a ratio of the total liabilities.
4. The common size percentages can be subsequently compared to those of competitors to determine how the company is performing relative to the industry.
5. The main difference between the two is that horizontal research involves multiple periods, whereas vertical study compares the data sheets to a base in the current period.

For example, any discernable movements in the income statement can help investors decide whether to invest in Square. Another great example of this type of analysis is looking at competitors to understand how Paypal is doing relative to its peers. The first step is identifying which figures should be examined for trends and the period relevant to the analysis. A firm’s enterprise value (EV) can be calculated using this data as well as other ratios used, all of which are used to compare a company to others in its peer group.

Horizontal analysis is particularly useful when analyzing the trend of financial ratios over a certain period. It provides insights into how a company’s performance and financial health have https://accounting-services.net/ changed over time, which can be instrumental in predicting future performance. Vertical analysis is most useful when comparing companies of different sizes within the same industry.

## 2 Common-Size Analysis of Financial Statements

In the case of XYZ, Inc., operating profit has dropped from 17% in Year 1 to 7.6% in Year 2. The cost of goods sold dropped, while both selling and administrative expenses and depreciation rose. The firm may have bought new fixed assets and/or sales commissions may have increased due to hiring new sales personnel. The cash flow statement provides an overview of the firm’s sources and uses of cash. The cash flow statement is divided among cash flows from operations, cash flows from investing, and cash flows from financing. Each section provides additional information about the sources and uses of cash in each business activity.

All percentage figures in a common-size balance sheet are percentages of total assets while all the items in a common-size income statement are percentages of net sales. The use of common-size statements facilitates vertical analysis of a company’s financial statements. Financial statements that show only
percentages and no absolute dollar amounts are common-size statements. All
percentage figures in a common-size balance sheet are
percentages of total assets while all the items in a
common-size income statement are percentages of net
sales.

Note that although we have compared just two years of data for Charlie and Clear Lake, it is more common to use several years of data to get a more robust view of long-term trends. Interpreting these figures requires a good understanding of the company and its context. You may need to take into account factors such as the general state of the economy, the competitive environment, and the company’s operational issues. The practical applications of common size analysis (CSA) span across a wide range of industries and arise in numerous contexts.

## Common Size Analysis

It allows you to compare vertically across different financial statements, for example, analyzing the cost of goods sold and operating expenses. As we can see from the above chart, using common size analysis allows investors to identify sharp changes in their income statements or balance sheet. The drastic changes become much clearer when comparing financials over longer periods. The next point of the analysis is the company’s non-operating expenses, such as interest expense. This firm may have purchased new fixed assets at the wrong time since its COGS was rising during the same period.

## Operating Income: Understanding its Significance in Business Finance

Banks use the technique to assess the financial health and creditworthiness of companies seeking loans. The current assets formula determines that the “total current assets,” which are the total of all assets that can be converted to cash within one year, makes up 37% of the company’s total assets. In contrast, current liabilities, which are debts due within one year, make up only 30% of the company’s total assets. You can use it to see how your business stacks up percentage-wise with another business, even if that business is substantially larger.

Common-size financial statements facilitate the analysis of financial performance by converting each element of the statements to a percentage. This makes it easier to compare figures from one period to the next, compare departments within an organization, and compare the firm to other companies of any size as well as industry averages. On the income statement, analysts can see how much of sales revenue is spent on each type of expense. They can see this breakdown for each firm and compare how different firms function in terms of expenses, proportionally.

They can make important observations by analyzing specific line items in relation to the total assets. Common size analysis can be conducted in two ways, i.e., vertical analysis and horizontal analysis. Vertical analysis refers to the analysis of specific line items in relation to a base item within the same financial period. For example, in the balance sheet, we can assess the proportion of inventory by dividing the inventory line using total assets as the base item. Common size financial statement analysis, which is also called a “vertical” analysis, is a technique that financial managers use to analyze their financial statements. It is not another type of income statement but is a tool used to analyze the income statement.

It can provide valuable insights, but it’s most useful when used as part of a broader evaluation that includes other financial indicators and qualitative analysis. If the percentage of income after taxes is rising over time, for example, it indicates improving profitability. Similarly, a company whose inventory makes up an increasing portion of its assets might be struggling to sell its products. When comparing any two common size ratios, it is important to make sure that they are computed by using the same base figure. For example, large drops in the company’s profits in two or more consecutive years may indicate that the company is going through financial distress. Similarly, considerable increases in the value of assets may mean that the company is implementing an expansion or acquisition strategy, potentially making the company attractive to investors.

In such analysis, revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities, and equity are often expressed in actual dollar amounts. Moreover, common size analysis can determine the impact of these initiatives on profitability. A percentage increase in sustainability costs might result in a corresponding decrease in profit margins. Yet, this may be offset by long-term benefits, such as increased customer loyalty or improved regulatory relationships. Because common size analysis is based on an examination of historical financial statements, it’s influenced by a company’s past financial performance. This can present issues because historical data may not always accurately represent a company’s future prospects.

## How the Common Size Income Statement Is Used

This suggests that the firm should try to find quality material at a lower cost and lower its direct expenses if possible. The difference is that horizontal analysis usually compares data over multiple periods, as opposed to vertical analysis, which deals with comparing figures of one time period. On the debt and equity side of the balance sheet, however, common size analysis there were a few percentage changes worth noting. In the prior year, the balance sheet reflected 55 percent debt and 45 percent equity. In the current year, that balance shifted to 60 percent debt and 40 percent equity. The firm did issue additional stock and showed an increase in retained earnings, both totaling a \$10,000 increase in equity.

However, the equity increase was much smaller than the total increase in liabilities of \$40,000. The remainder of that increase is seen in the 5 percent increase in current liabilities. By comparing these percentages year on year, you can understand if your company’s sustainability efforts are increasing or decreasing. Thus, applying common size analysis might aid in maintaining the right balance between profitability and sustainable operations.