Analyzing Financial Statements
1. Explain the three perspectives from which financial statements can be viewed.
2. Describe common-size financial statements, explain why they are used, and be able
to prepare and use them to analyze the historical performance of a firm.
3. Discuss how financial ratios facilitate financial analysis, and be able to compute and
use them to analyze a firm’s performance.
4. Describe the DuPont system of analysis and be able to use it to evaluate a firm’s
performance and identify corrective actions that may be necessary.
5. Explain what benchmarks are, describe how they are prepared, and discuss why
they are important in financial statement analysis.
6. Identify the major limitations in using financial statement analysis
I. Chapter Outline
4.1 Background for Financial Statement Analysis
A. Stockholders’ Perspective
• Shareholders’ focus centers on the value of the stock they hold.
• Their interest in the financial statement is to gauge the cash flows that the firm
will generate from operations,
• This allows them to determine the firm’s profitability, their return for that
period, and the dividend they are likely to receive.
B. Managers’ Perspective
• On one hand, management’s interest in the firm’s financial statement is
similar to that of shareholders.
• A good performance by the firm will keep the management in the firm, while
a poor performance can cost them their jobs.
• In addition, management gets feedback on their investing, financing, and
working capital decisions by identifying trends in the various accounts that are
reported in the financial statements.
C. Creditors’ Perspective
• Creditors or lenders are primarily concerned about getting their loans repaid
and receiving interest payments on time.
• Their focus is on:
Amount of debt the firm has.
Firm’s ability to meet short-term obligations.
Firm’s ability to generate sufficient cash flows to meet all legal
obligations first and still have sufficient cash flows to meet debt
repayment and interest payments.
D. Guidelines for Financial Statement Analysis
• Identify whose perspective you are using to analyze a firm—management,
shareholder, or creditor.
• Use only audited financial statements if possible.
• Perform analysis over a three- to five-year period—trend analysis.
• Compare the firm’s performance to its direct competitors—that is, firms that
are similar in size and offer similar products.
• Perform a benchmark analysis. This involves comparing it to one or more of
the most relevant competitors—American Air with Delta or United Airlines.
4.2 Common-Size Financial Statements
A common-sized balance is created by dividing each asset or liability by a base number
like total assets or sales. Such common-size or standardized financial statements allow
one to compare firms that are different in size.
A. Common-Size Balance Sheets
• Each asset and liability item on the balance sheet is standardized by dividing it
by total assets,
• This results in these accounts being represented as percentages of total assets.
B. Common-Size Income Statements
• Each income statement item is standardized by dividing it by the dollar
amount of sales.
• Each income statement item is now indicated as a percentage of sales.
4.3 Financial Statement Analysis
• A ratio is computed by dividing one balance sheet or income statement item
• A variety of ratios can be computed to focus on specialized aspects of the
• The choice of the scale determines the story that can be garnered from the
• Different ratios can be calculated based on the type of firm being analyzed or
the kind of analysis being performed.
• Ratios may be computed to measure liquidity, efficiency, leverage,
profitability, or market-value performance.
B. Liquidity Ratios
• Liquidity ratios measure the ability of the firm to meet short-term obligations
with short-term assets without putting the firm in financial trouble.
• There are two commonly used ratios to measure liquidity—current ratio and
• Current ratio is calculated by dividing the current assets by current
It tells how many dollars of current assets the firm has per dollar of current
The higher the number, the more liquid the firm and the better its ability to
pay its short-term bills.
• Quick ratio or acid-test ratio is calculated by dividing the most liquid of
current assets by current liabilities. Inventory that is not very liquid is
subtracted from total current assets to determine the most liquid assets.
It tells us how many dollars of liquid assets the firm has per dollar of
The higher the number, the more liquid the firm and the better its ability to
pay its short-term bills.
• Quick ratios will tend to be much smaller than current ratios for
manufacturing firms or other industries that have a lot of inventory, while
service firms that tend not to carry too much inventory will see no significant
difference between the two.
C. Efficiency Ratios
• This set of ratios, sometimes called asset turnover ratios, measures the
efficiency with which a firm’s management uses the assets to generate sales.
• While management can use these ratios to identify areas of inefficiency that
require improvement, creditors can use some of these ratios to determine the
speed with which inventory can be converted to receivables, which can then
be converted to cash and help the firm to meet its debt obligations.
• These efficiency ratios focus on inventory, receivables, and the use of fixed
and total assets.
• Inventory turnover ratio is calculated by dividing the cost of goods sold by
Year-end inventory can be used or, if a firm experiences significant
changes in the inventory level during the year, the average inventory level
can be used.
It measures how many times the inventory is turned over into saleable
The more times a firm can turn over the inventory, the better.
Too high a turnover or too low a turnover could be a warning sign.
• Another ratio that builds on the inventory turnover ratio is the days’ sales in
It measures the number of days the firm takes to turn over the inventory.
The smaller the number, the faster the firm is turning over its inventory
and the more efficient it is.
• Accounts receivables turnover ratio measures how quickly the firm collects
on its credit sales.
The higher the frequency of turnover, the quicker it is converting its credit
sales into cash flows.
• Another measure of the firm’s efficiency in this regard is Days Sales
It measures in days the time the firm takes to convert its receivables into
The fewer the days it takes the firm to collect on its receivables, the more
efficient the firm is.
Recognize, however, that an overzealous credit department may turn off
the firm’s customers.
• Total asset turnover ratio measures the level of sales a firm is able to
generate per dollar of total assets.
The higher the total asset turnover, the more efficiently management is
using total assets.
• Fixed asset turnover ratio measures the level of sales a firm is able to
generate per dollar of fixed assets.
The higher the fixed asset turnover, the more efficiently management is
using its plant and equipment.
This ratio is more significant for equipment-intensive manufacturing
industry firms, while the total assets turnover ratio is more relevant for
service industry firms.
D. Leverage Ratios
• The ability of a firm and its owners to use their equity to generate borrowed
funds is reflected in the leverage ratios.
• Financial leverage refers to the use of long-term debt in a firm’s capital
• The use of debt increases shareholders’ returns thanks to the tax benefits
provided by the interest payments on debt.
• Two sets of ratios can be used to analyze leverage—debt ratios that quantify
the use of debt in the capital structure and coverage ratios that measure the
ability of the firm to meet its debt obligations.
• The first ratio, total debt ratio, is calculated by dividing total debt by total
Total debt includes short-term and long-term debt.
The higher the amount of debt, the higher the firm’s leverage, and the
more risky it is.
• The second leverage ratio is debt-to-equity ratio.
It measures the amount of debt per dollar of equity.
• The third leverage ratio is called the equity multiplier or leverage
It tells us the amount of assets that the firm has for every dollar of equity.
It serves as the best measure of the firm’s ability to leverage shareholders’
equity with borrowed funds.
• Of the coverage ratios, the first one is times interest earned.
It measures the number of dollars in operating earnings the firm generates
per dollar of interest expense.
The higher the number, the greater the ability of the firm to meet its
• The second ratio is the cash coverage ratio.
It measures the amount of cash a firm has to meet its interest payments.
E. Profitability Ratios
• These ratios measure the financial performance of the firm.
• Gross profit margin measures the amount of gross profit generated per dollar
of net sales, while operating profit margin measures the amount of operating
profit generated by the firm for each dollar of net sales. Net profit margin
measures the amount of net income after taxes generated by the firm for each
dollar of net sales.
• In each case, the higher the ratio, the more profitable the firm.
• While management and creditors are likely to focus on these profitability
measures, shareholders are likely to concentrate on two others.
• The return on assets (ROA) ratio measures the amount of net income per
dollar of total assets.
• A variation of this ratio, called the EBIT return on assets, is a powerful
measure of return because it tells us how efficiently management utilized the
assets under their command, independent of financing decisions and taxes.
This measures the amount of EBIT per dollar of total assets.
• The return on equity (ROE) ratio measures the dollar amount of net income
per dollar of shareholder s’ equity.
• For a firm with no debt ROA = ROE; for firms with leverage ROE > ROA
(assuming that ROA is positive).
F. Market-Value Indicators
• The ratios that follow tell us how the market views the company’s liquidity,
efficiency, leverage, and profitability.
• The earnings per share (EPS) ratio measures the income after taxes
generated by the firm for each share outstanding.
• The price-earnings (P/E) ratio ties the firm’s earnings per share to price per
The P/E ratio reflects investors’ expectations that the firm’s earnings will
grow in the future.
4.4 The DuPont System: A Diagnostic Tool
A. An Overview
• The DuPont system is a set of related ratios that links the balance sheet and
the income statement.
• It is used as a diagnostic tool to evaluate a firm’s financial health.
• Both management and shareholders can use this tool to understand the factors
that drive a firm’s ROE.
• It is based on two equations that relate a firm’s ROA and ROE.
B. The ROA Equation
• Return on assets, which is Net income / Total assets, can be broken down into
two components—profit margin and total assets turnover ratio. See Equation
• The net profit margin measures management’s ability to generate sales and
efficiently manage the firm’s operating expenses; overall, this is a measure of
• Total asset turnover looks at how efficiently management uses the assets
under its command—that is, how much output can be generated with a given
asset base. Thus, asset turnover is a measure of asset use efficiency.
• The ROA equation says that if management wants to increase the firm’s ROA,
it can increase the profit margin, asset turnover, or both.
• By the same token, management can examine a poor ROA and determine
whether operating efficiency is the problem or asset use efficiency problem.
C. The ROE Equation
• This equation is simply a restatement of Equation 41.8. Reorganization of the
terms allows ROE to be restated as a product of the ROA and the equity
• ROE is determined by the firm’s ROA and its use of leverage.
• A firm with a small ROA can magnify it by using a higher leverage to get a
D. The DuPont Equation
• Substituting the ROA into the ROE equations gives us the DuPont equation as
shown in Equations 4.23 and 4.24.
• The DuPont equation shows that a firm’s ROE is determined by three factors:
(1) net profit margin, which measures the firm’s operating efficiency, (2) total
asset turnover, which measures the firm’s asset use efficiency, and (3) the
equity multiplier, which measures the firm’s financial leverage.
• Analyzing a firm’s financial performance will allow one to identify where the
inefficiencies are and where the strengths are.
• If operational efficiency is the area of weakness, then it calls for a closer look
at the firm’s income statement items.
• If asset turnover or leverage is the problem area, then the focus shifts to the
E. ROE as a Goal
• The issue of whether maximizing ROE is equivalent to maximizing
shareholders’ wealth is something to be discussed.
• Those who do not agree that they are the same identify three key weaknesses.
The first weakness with ROE is that it is based on after-tax earnings, not
Next, ROE does not consider risk.
Third, ROE ignores the size of the initial investment as well as future cash
• Those who believe that they are consistent propose that:
ROE allows management to break down the performance and identify
areas of strengths and weaknesses.
ROE is highly correlated with shareholder wealth maximization.
4.5 Selecting a Benchmark
• A ratio analysis becomes relevant only if it can be compared against a
• Financial managers can create a benchmark for comparison in three ways:
through trend analysis, industry average analysis, and peer group analysis.
A. Trend Analysis
• This benchmark is based on a firm’s historical performance.
• It allows management to examine each ratio over time and determine whether
the trend is good or bad for the firm.
B. Industry Analysis
• Industry analysis is another way of developing a benchmark.
• Firms in the same industry are grouped by size, sales, and product lines to
establish benchmark ratios.
• One way of identifying industry groups is the Standard Industrial
Classification (SIC) System.
C. Peer Group Analysis
• Instead of selecting an entire industry, management may choose to identify a
set of firms that are similar in size or sales, or who compete in the same
• The average ratios of this peer group would then be used as the benchmark.
• Depending on the industry, peer groups can be as small as three or four firms.
4.6. Using Financial Ratios
Limitations of ratio analysis include the following:
• It depends on accounting data based on historical costs.
• There is no theoretical backing in making judgments based on financial
statement and ratio analysis.
• When doing industry or peer group analysis, you are often confronted with
large, diversified firms that do not fit into any one SIC code.
• Trend analysis could be distorted by financial statements affected by inflation.