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# Common Size Financial Statement: Definition, Overview & Formula

July 24, 2024
Bill Kimball

Get instant access to lessons taught by experienced private equity pros and bulge bracket investment bankers including financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel Modeling. One advantage of applying standard size analysis is the ability to spot significant changes in a company’s financial statement. This evaluation sheds light on a company’s capital structure and how it stacks up against its competitors.

## What It Means for Individual Investors

The analysis looks at the horizontal lines of revenue, gross, operating, and net profits and compares them over the last two years (usually, the same analysis will be done for ABC’s costs). This type of evaluation is part of both vertical and horizontal analyses. 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.

## Types of Common Size Analysis

It is also an excellent tool for comparing businesses operating in the same sector. Analyzing its financial information will help the company understand its business plan and the highest costs that set it apart from other businesses in the industry. However, a simple tool like Microsoft Excel can be quite handy in making the process easier and faster. The same formula can be copied and replicated in each income statement line, making the calculations much faster.

## Key Takeaways

Here is a hypothetical example of how some line items might look on a common-size income statement for three successive years. The key benefit of a common-size analysis is that it allows for a vertical analysis by line item over a single period, such as quarterly or annually. It also allows you to view a horizontal perspective over a period such as the three years that were analyzed in our example.

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2. It’s important to add short-term and long-term debt together and compare this amount to the total cash on hand in the current assets section.
3. To calculate net income, you subtract the cost of goods sold, selling and general administrative expenses, and taxes from total revenue.
4. For investors, analyzing a common-size income statement allows them to identify significant changes or trends in a company’s income and other financials.
5. While most firms do not report their statements in common size format, it is beneficial for analysts to do so to compare two or more companies of differing size or different sectors of the economy.

It precisely matches the common-size analysis from an income statement perspective. However, it’s important to recognize that some of these limitations come due to various interpretations of the data being observed. One of the biggest benefits is that it provides investors with information to see changes in the financial statement of a company.

## Analysis of Expenses for Company XYZ

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.

The common-size method is appealing for research-intensive companies because they tend to focus on research and development (R&D) and what it represents as a percent of total sales. It’s important to add short-term and long-term debt together and compare this amount to the total cash on hand in the current assets section. This lets you know how much of a cash cushion is available or if a firm is dependent on the markets to refinance debt when it comes due. It can also highlight the expense items that provide a company a competitive advantage over another. For example, a company might choose to gain more market share by sacrificing operating margins. And to do that we need to turn to the balance sheet and cash flow statement first.

The analysis results indicate that company XYZ finances its operations mainly through equity instead of debt. That can be attractive for investors because it reduces bankruptcy risk. It can indicate if the debt is too large, if too much cash is retained, or if inventories are increasing too quickly. The goodwill calculated on a balance sheet can also show how valuable a firm’s brand name is. 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.

However, financial statements frequently include all of these components in percentage terms. Repurchase activity on shares can be expressed as a percentage of total revenue. In proportion to the annual sales, it contributes to debt issuance is another crucial figure. A business’s cash flow statement demonstrates how changes to its balance sheet affect an organization’s cash and cash equivalents.

The second step is to chart the data because visualizing it will aid in making trends easier to spot. This evaluation method allows financial managers to quickly examine financial accounts, even if it is less thorough than trend analysis, which utilizes ratios. Operating profit is one of the most important numbers you can analyze because it shows the health of the business firm’s core business.

In Figure 5.21, you can see the formulas used to create Clear Lake Sporting Goods’ common-size income statement in Excel. Notice that the \$ can be inserted to anchor a cell reference, making it easier to copy and paste the same formula onto many lines or columns. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of using common-size income statements.

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. Long-term debt increased by only \$10,000 by issuing additional notes payable.

A comparable company analysis assumes that similar businesses will have relative valuation multiples, such as EV/EBITDA. The available data for the companies under examination is compiled by analysts, who then compute the valuation multiples to compare them. The comparative analysis looks for ratios of similar public businesses in the industry and compares them to evaluate another company’s value.

Essentially, it helps evaluate financial statements by expressing the line items as a percentage of the amount. It helps break down the impact that each item on the financial statement has, as well as its overall contribution. Both are useful and paint a 3D picture of a company’s financial performance when used together. However, horizontal analysis is crucial in understanding competitor strategy and identifying a business’s weaknesses and strengths.

To calculate net income, you subtract the cost of goods sold, selling and general administrative expenses, and taxes from total revenue. After some calculations, you determine the revenue for the company to be \$100,000. However, a more popular version breaks down cash flow in a different way and expresses line items in terms of cash flows from operations. It will also include total financing cash flows and total investing cash flows for both of those activities.