What Is A Horizontal Analysis?

Horizontal analysis is a financial tool used to compare financial statements of two or more years. It allows users to view changes in the financial data over a specific period of time, allowing for better insight into the performance of a business and its finances. In this blog post, we will explore what horizontal analysis is and how businesses can use it to better understand their financial performance. We’ll look at the different components of horizontal analysis, the advantages and disadvantages of using it, and some examples of how it can be used by companies. By the end of this post, you should have a good understanding of what horizontal analysis is and how to use it in your own business.

What is a horizontal analysis?

A horizontal analysis is an analytical technique that is used to identify changes in financial information over time. This type of analysis can be useful for trend analysis, forecasting, and decision-making.

A horizontal analysis is performed by comparing two or more financial statements from different periods of time. This type of analysis can be used to identify trends in financial data, assess the impact of changes in business operations, and make better informed decisions about the future.

The goal of a horizontal analysis is to identify changes in financial information over time. This information can be used to assess the performance of a company, predict future trends, and make decisions about investments and other strategic decisions.

How is a horizontal analysis used?

A horizontal analysis is used in financial accounting to compare line items in a company’s financial statements over time. This type of analysis is useful in identifying trends in the company’s financials, such as an increase or decrease in revenue or expenses.

A horizontal analysis can be performed on any type of financial statement, but is most commonly used on the income statement. To complete a horizontal analysis, the first step is to determine the base year, which is the year that will be used as the starting point for comparisons. The base year is typically the most recent year for which complete financial statements are available.

Once the base year has been determined, each line item in the financial statements for subsequent years is compared to the corresponding line item in the base year. These comparisons can be expressed either in terms of absolute dollars or as a percentage change.

A horizontal analysis can reveal important trends about a company’s financial health, such as whether revenues and profits are increasing or decreasing over time. It can also help to identify areas where further investigation may be warranted.

What are the benefits of a horizontal analysis?

A horizontal analysis is a tool that can be used to evaluate financial data over time. When conducting a horizontal analysis, you are essentially comparing data from one period to another. This can be useful in identifying trends and detecting potential problems.

There are several benefits of conducting a horizontal analysis:

1. You can identify trends.
2. You can detect potential problems.
3. You can compare data from different periods.
4. You can evaluate the financial health of a company.
5. You can make more informed investment decisions.

What are the limitations of a horizontal analysis?

A horizontal analysis is a financial statement analysis technique that shows changes in the amounts of corresponding financial statement items over a period of time. It is a useful tool to evaluate trend data, but it has several limitations.

First, horizontal analysis only looks at changes in absolute numbers, without considering the underlying reasons for those changes. For example, a significant increase in sales could be due to strong demand or lower prices, and it would be difficult to determine which without further analysis.

Second, horizontal analysis can be misleading when comparing companies of different sizes. For instance, a 10% increase in sales may be much more significant for a small company than a large one.

Third, horizontal analysis assumes that all items on the financial statements are equally important. However, some items may be more important than others in determining the health of the business. For instance, increases in inventory levels may be more relevant for a manufacturing company than a service company.

Finally, horizontal analysis does not take into account inflationary effects over time. For example, if prices have increased by 5% over the past year but all other amounts have stayed the same, the Horizontal Analysis would show no change. In reality, there has been a 5% decrease in purchasing power.

How to prepare a horizontal analysis

A horizontal analysis is used to compare financial information over time. This can be done by looking at financial statements from different periods or by comparing the financial statements of different companies.

There are a few things you need to do in order to prepare a horizontal analysis. First, you need to select the base year. This is the year that will be used as a point of comparison for all other years. All amounts will be expressed as a percentage of the base year amount.

Next, you need to gather the financial statements for the years you want to compare. If you are comparing different companies, you will need to find their financial statements for the same years. Once you have all of the necessary information, you can begin your analysis.

To do a horizontal analysis, you will need to calculate the percentage change from the base year to each subsequent year. You can do this by subtracting the base year amount from each subsequent year’s amount and then dividing that number by the base year amount. The resulting number will be expressed as a percentage and will show how much each item has changed over time.

Once you have calculated the percentage change for each item, you can start to interpret your results. Look for items that have had a large increase or decrease in percentage terms. These items may warrant further investigation to see if they are indicative of trends in the business or if they are one-time events.


A horizontal analysis is an important tool for financial professionals, since it allows them to quickly and easily compare the performance of a company over multiple periods. By comparing different years or quarters side-by-side, they can see how their business is progressing or regressing in relation to itself from period to period. Understanding what a horizontal analysis is and having the ability to use it effectively are both crucial components of being successful as a financial analyst. With this knowledge, you too can become more effective at analyzing businesses and make informed decisions about investments.

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