Vertical analysis reports each amount on a financial statement as a percentage of another item. For example, the vertical analysis of the balance sheet means every amount on the balance sheet is restated to be a percentage of total assets. If inventory is $100,000 and total assets are $400,000 then inventory is presented as 25 ($100,000 divided by $400,000). If cash is $8,000 then it will be presented as 2 ($8,000 divided by $400,000). The total of the assets will now add up to 100. If the accounts payable are $88,000 they will be presented as 22 ($88,000 divided by $400,000). If owner's equity is $240,000 it will be presented as 60 ($240,000 divided by $400,000). The restated amounts from the vertical analysis of the balance sheet will be presented as a common-size balance sheet. A common-size balance sheet allows you to compare your company's balance sheet to another company's balance sheet or to the average for its industry.

Vertical analysis of an income statement results in every income statement amount being presented as a percentage of sales. If sales were $1,000,000 they would be restated to be 100 ($1,000,000 divided by $1,000,000). If the cost of goods sold is $780,000 it will be presented as 78 ($780,000 divided by sales of $1,000,000). If interest expense is $50,000 it will be presented as 5 ($50,000 divided by $1,000,000). The restated amounts are known as a common-size income statement. A common-size income statement allows you to compare your company's income statement to another company's or to the industry average.

Horizontal analysis looks at amounts on the financial statements over the past years. For example, the amount of cash reported on the balance sheet at December 31 of 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008 will be expressed as a percentage of the December 31, 2008 amount. Instead of dollar amounts you might see 134, 125, 110, 103, and 100. This shows that the amount of cash at the end of 2012 is 134% of the amount it was at the end of 2008. The same analysis will be done for each item on the balance sheet and for each item on the income statement. This allows you to see how each item has changed in relationship to the changes in other items. Horizontal analysis is also referred to as trend analysis.

Vertical analysis, horizontal analysis and financial ratios are part of financial statement analysis.

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