3 Steps to an Effective Financial Statement Analysis
In general, Financial statement reports can show the enterprise’s financial situation, operating results, and cash flow. However, this is just a vague concept because the original data is unable to speak, and you cannot know the conclusion just from financial data. To let the data speak and reflect the enterprise’s financial situation and problems, you need to do an effective financial statement analysis and display financial statement reports in the right form and method. In this article, for newbies, I concluded the 3 basic steps to an effective financial statement analysis.
1. Be clear about the most critical in your financial Analysis
Different roles in the company focus on different aspects of financial analysis. Therefore, identify the purpose of the company’s financial analysis and who is using the report to be clear about the most critical in your financial analysis report is the very first step at the beginning.
Operating income is the life of enterprises. When we get a report, we first need to analyze three aspects: the revenue composition, growth situation, and gross margin of the enterprise.
- Revenue Composition: include the sales mix, the proportion of regional revenue, the proportion of channel revenue, etc. It can be analyzed to find whether there are barriers to the products of the enterprise, whether the products can stand out from the competition, whether the core business is clear, and whether the profitability is stable, etc.
- Growth Situation: The most important thing you should pay attention to include the revenue growth rate, compound annual growth rate, sales growth, customer development growth, and product growth. Also, take care of whether m&a growth, internal growth exists, etc.
- Gross margin: The gross margin represents how well are the products’ differences, brand influence, and market competitiveness
- R& D cost analysis：Focus on the company’s investment in research and development over the years, and also pay attention to the direction of investment in R&D;
- Sales cost analysis: Concentrate on the types of sales expenses, whether the company has established sales channels, incentive policies, etc.
- Financing cost analysis: include loans, internal financial consumption, interest, etc.
- Valued Profit: If non-operating income, investment income, asset disposal income, interest income, gain from fair value changes account for a small proportion of the total profit composition of the company, the company’s profit is more valuable.
- Analysis of the relationship between net profit and net cash flow from operating activities: that is, whether the company’s net profit is supported by net cash from operating activities
- Analysis of profit growth: whether the company’s profit growth belongs to m&a growth, whether the profit belongs to internal growth, etc.
2. Select data analysis methods for financial analysis
Data analysis is an excellent thinking mode in financial analysis to help companies to identify potential problems and opportunities, no matter how complex the real business scenario is. Start from a single core indicator, and decomposing this index, then conduct in-depth multi-dimensional analysis, and discover the abnormal data, to finally solve the business problem by adjusting the decision.
Vertical analysis is a proportional analysis to analyze each amount on a financial statement as a percentage of another amount
Step1: Calculate and determine the proportion or percentage of each item in the financial statement.
Step2: Through the proportion of each item, analyze its importance in enterprise management. The more significant the proportion of general projects is, the higher their importance is, and the greater the overall impact on the company is.
Step3: Compare the proportion of each project in the analysis period with the proportion of the same project in the earlier period, study the change of the proportion of each project, and further analyze the important projects that change a lot.
Horizontal analysis is used to compare historical data over a number of accounting periods, comparing the data of each project reporting period in the financial statements with the data of the previous period, and analyzing the changes of the financial data of the enterprise.
Generally, horizontal analysis is not used to compare just one or two items, but a comprehensive comparison and analysis of all items in the reporting period of financial statements and the previous period, revealing the problems in various aspects and laying the foundation for further comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the financial situation of enterprises.
Trend analysis is a long-term analysis based on the concept that what has happened in the past gives an idea of what will happen in the future. It calculates the fixed-base index of data of one or more consecutive reporting periods compared with the base period, or the sequential index compared with the previous period. In this way, to form an index time series and analyze the long-term trend of this report.
Ratio analysis is performed by comparing two items in the financial statements to analyze the relationship between two projects.
Financial ratios generally fall into two categories: margin ratios and return ratios. The most commonly used in the company are gross profit margin, EBITDA margin, operating profit margin, net profit margin, cash flow margin, return on assets, return on equity and return on invested capital.
Factor analysis is used to calculate the degree of influence of several interrelated driving factors on comprehensive financial indicators. For example, sales revenue depends on two factors, sales volume and unit price. When an enterprise raises its price, sales volume will fall. We can use factor analysis to measure the impact of price rise and sales decline on revenue.
The first is the comparative analysis of internal indicators. For example, the sales of various regions can be compared and analyzed. It can help to identify regions with relatively good sales performance, as well as summarize relevant experience for the optimization of regions with relatively poor sales performance.
The second is to do a comparative analysis of the same indicators formed at different times. For instance, MoM and YoY can be calculated for sales. With the warning icons, it can help to quick to detect the rise and decrease of sales and to find problems of enterprise management at the corresponding times.
In addition to comparing the data of the enterprise itself, we can also compare and analyze with the main competitors, including competitiveness, financial ability, etc. It is conducive to clear the current level of their enterprises in the market, to finally choose enterprise management strategies that more suitable for them.
3. Select the right financial analysis tool
At present, in most enterprises, financial statement reports are made manually. It is common for finance staff to use Excel to make and manage financial reports. The data was collected and input first, and then the relevant calculation was made according to the presentation logic of the report. Finally, the chart was used to present the data analysis. However, the manual production of financial statements has many disadvantages. First of all, it is easy to make mistakes when making reports by inputting the data by hand, especially when the data is massive. And, you know, a small data error can make a big difference. Second, Excel causes duplication of effort, especially when it comes to daily reports, monthly reports, annual reports.
For enterprises, the automated reporting system is more recommended to capture financial data in real-time and present the output visually. It can be used for financial personnel to analyze financial data at any time and for the managers to control the financial status and adjust the strategy timely. For example, with FineReport, which I used to make the reports are shown above, after I connect it to the MySQL and drag the field to the interface, the feature ‘dynamic calculation between cells’ help me to dynamically generate MoM and YoY analysis without the need to input the formula. Besides, I can set the daily, monthly and yearly reports to automatically generate the financial reports based on the latest data from the database, without extra effort. It truly reduces my time and frees me for more subjective analysis.