Chapter 15: Accounting and Financial Analysis
A. The Learning Goals of this chapter are to:
1. Explain how firms use accounting.
2. Explain how firms can ensure proper financial reporting.
3. Explain how to interpret financial statements.
4. Explain how to evaluate a firm’s financial condition.
B. Accounting is the summary and analysis of a firm’s financial condition. Accounting
information enables managers to make business decisions that increase the value of
I. How Firms Use Accounting
A. Reporting accurate data regarding the firm’s financial transactions is the
purpose of financial accounting. The first step in the reporting process is the
recording of the firm’s financial activities, which is called bookkeeping.
1. Publicly owned firms are regularly involved in reporting to shareholders
financial information regarding the performance of the firm.
2. Firms also report their financial condition to creditors. Lending institutions
often require a firm’s most recent financial statements. These provide the
creditors with information about the creditworthiness of the firm.
3. A common activity of public accountants is certifying of the accuracy of the
firm’s financial statements. The accountant’s stamp of approval indicates that the
financial records have been kept in accordance with generally accepted
accounting principles. Public accountants provide accounting services for
clients for a fee. Public accountants who meet specific educational requirements
and pass a national examination are referred to as certified public accountants
B. Decision support data, the type of information provided to help managers make
good decisions, are provided by managerial accounting.
C. By reviewing financial information, managers can monitor and control the
performance of individuals, divisions, and products. This will allow the manager to
identify the firm’s strengths and weaknesses.
1. Auditing refers to the assessment of the records that were used to prepare
the firm’s financial statements.
2. Internal auditors specialize in evaluating the various divisions of a
business to ensure that they are operating efficiently.
II. Responsible Financial Reporting
A. Companies like Enron and WorldCom that used accounting gimmicks to appear more
profitable than they were, were exposed as frauds in late 2001 and early 2002. Both
companies went bankrupt. Firms should use whatever method of accounting provides
the most accurate measure of its financial condition.
B. Auditors play an important role in ensuring proper reporting. Auditors ensure that
all information in a financial statement is accurate.
C. A firm’s board of director’s job is to represent the shareholders. In order to
discourage any temptation to misrepresent the firm’s earnings in order to inflate the
sale of their own stock, board members are often held to an agreement that they
cannot sell stock while they are serving on the board.
D. In light of the accounting fraud problems that have arisen in the past few years,
regulators have attempted to exert more control over firms that list on the exchange.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has been granted more power under the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The provisions of the act are:
1. An auditing firm is allowed to provide nonaudit services when auditing a client
only if the client’s audit committee pre-approves the services.
2. Auditing firms may not audit companies whose CEO, CFO, or other managers in
similar roles were employed by the auditing firm in the one-year prior to the
3. The board members of a firm who are assigned to oversee the audit should not
receive consulting or advising fees from the auditing firm.
4. The CFO and other managers of the firm must file an internal control report
along with each annual report.
5. The CEO and CFO must certify that the audited statements fairly represent the
operations and financial condition of a firm.
6. Major fines or prison terms are imposed on employees who mislead investors or
III. Interpreting Financial Statements
A. An income statement, which indicates the revenue, expenses, and profits (or losses)
of a firm over a period of time, is presented in Exhibit 15.1. Exhibit 15.2 presents
the income statement as a percentage of net sales. The components of an income
statement are as follow:
1. Net sales reflect total sales adjusted for any discounts.
2. Cost of goods sold is the cost of all materials that were used to produce
the goods that were sold.
3. Gross profit is equal to net sales minus the cost of goods sold.
4. Operating expenses are composed of selling expenses as well as general
and administrative expenses.
5. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) are calculated by subtracting
a firm’s operating expenses from its gross profits.
6. Earnings before taxes are earnings before interest and taxes minus interest
7. Earnings after taxes, sometimes referred to as net income, equal earnings
before taxes minus taxes.
B. A balance sheet, presented in Exhibit 15.3, reports the book value of all assets,
liabilities, and owner’s equity of a firm at a given point in time. Exhibit 15.4
presents a percentage breakdown of a balance sheet. The relationship between the
items on a balance sheet is described by the basic accounting equation:
Assets = Liabilities + Owner’s Equity
1. Assets represent anything of value owned by the firm.
a. Current assets are assets that will be converted into cash within one year.
Examples include cash, marketable securities, accounts receivable, and
b. Fixed assets are assets that will be used by the firm for more than one year.
Examples include the firm’s plant and equipment. These assets are subject to
depreciation, which represents a reduction in the value of a fixed asset to
reflect wear and tear, as well as obsolescence.
2. Liabilities represent the debts or obligations of the firm.
a. Current liabilities are debts that come due in a year or less. Accounts
payable are current liabilities. Accounts payable are short-term debts
incurred for the purchase of materials and supplies. Another current liability
is notes payable, which are short-term loans from creditors.
b. Long-term liabilities represent debts that are due in a time period of greater
than one year. Examples include long-term loans and bond issues.
3. Owner’s equity represents the investment made by the owners plus profits that
have been retained in the firm. Specifically, owner’s equity includes the par value
of all common stock issued, additional paid-in capital, and retained earnings.
IV. Ratio Analysis
A. An evaluation of the relationships between financial statement variables is called a
ratio analysis. The purpose of a financial ratio analysis is to identify the strengths
and weaknesses of the firm.
B. Measures of liquidity report a firm’s short-term debt-paying ability.
1. The current ratio reflects the relationship between current assets and current
liabilities. The larger the number, the greater the liquidity.
2. The quick ratio is similar to the current ratio, with one exception. Inventory is
excluded in the calculation of current assets. This is done because inventory
investments may not be as easily liquidated as other current assets. As with the
current ratio, the larger the firm’s quick ratio, the greater its liquidity.
C. Measures of efficiency indicate how well management is employing the
firm’s assets to generate revenue.
1. Inventory turnover reflects the number of times per year that inventory is
acquired and then sold. Ideally, management is holding just enough inventory to
satisfy consumer demand. A declining inventory turnover indicates slowing sales
and/or excess inventory.
2. Asset turnover focuses on management’s use of total assets in supporting sales.
Ideally, the firm’s asset turnover is larger than that of its competitors.
D. Measures of financial leverage report the percentage of assets that is financed with
debt. A firm with a high degree of financial leverage will incur the risk of greater
variation in profits. Leverage is a two-edged sword that can benefit or injure a firm
depending upon the growth rate in sales. A small increase (decrease) in sales will
result in a much larger increase (decrease) in earnings.
1. The debt-to-equity ratio compares long-term liabilities to total funds invested by
owners (i.e., owner’s equity).
2. The times interest earned ratio measures the ability of the firm to cover its
interest payments. A declining ratio indicates a debt level that is increasing faster
than earnings. However, if sales are decreasing, then a declining time interest
earned ratio indicates that debt is decreasing at an even slower rate.
E. Measures of profitability indicate management’s ability to generate profits for
owners of the firm.
1. Net profit margin is a measure of net income as a percentage of sales.
2. Return on assets (ROA) measures the net income of the firm as a percentage of
the total assets utilized by the firm.
3. Return on equity (ROE) expresses the net income as a percentage of the
owner’s investment in the business.
F. Comparison of Ratios with Those of Other Firms
1. One way to interpret the results of a financial analysis is to compare the ratios
with other firms in the same industry or with an industry average for a specific
2. Exhibits 15.5 and 15.6 provide formulas and interpretations of the most
commonly utilized ratios. A meaningful evaluation requires both an intra-industry
comparison and a trend analysis, comparing a firm’s ratios from one year to the
next. Exhibit 15.7 illustrates how a financial analysis can identify different
business functions that need improvement.
G. Limitations of Ratio Analysis
1. Comparing a firm with an industry average can be troublesome because many
firms operate in more than one industry. For example, Anheuser-Busch produces
beer and owns theme parks.
2. Accounting practices vary among firms, which may cause differences in the ratios
of one firm to another.
3. Firms with seasonal variations in sales may show large deviations from the
industry norm at certain times but not at others.
H. Sources of Information for Ratio Analysis
1. The booklet Annual Statement Studies, published by Robert Morris Associates,
provides financial ratios for many different industries.
2. Dun and Bradstreet also publish a series of financial ratios for selected
industries, classified by size.
Solutions to End-of-Chapter Materials
Answers to Review & Critical Thinking Questions
(1) What is accounting? Why is accounting important for a firm?
Accounting is the summary and analysis of a firm’s financial condition.
Firms use accounting to report their financial condition, support decisions,
and control business operations. Managers of all types of businesses use
accounting information to make better decisions. Financial analysis
resulting from accounting can detect deficiencies in the firm’s operations,
which can allow managers to revise those operations and thereby enhance
the firm’s value.
(2) List the parties that would be interested in a firm’s financial
condition. How would each use financial information about the firm?
The parties that would be interested in the financial condition of a firm would include
managers as well as the current and potential creditors and stockholders of the firm.
Managers use accounting information to plan for the future and control current
operations. Managers evaluate the firm in order to detect weaknesses that can be
corrected and strengths that can be exploited.
Creditors assess the financial statements of a firm to determine the probability that the
firm will default on loans. Creditors that plan to provide short-term loans assess financial
statements to determine the level of the firm’s liquidity (the ability to sell existing assets
in order to pay current liabilities). Creditors that plan to provide long-term loans may
assess the financial statements to determine whether the firm is capable of generating
sufficient income in future years to make interest and principal payments on the loan far
in the future.
Shareholders assess financial statements to evaluate the performance of a firm in which
they have invested. If the analysis determines that the firm has performed poorly,
existing shareholders may attempt to replace the board of directors or may sell their
(3) What is a public accountant? What is an important job of public
Public accountants are individuals who provide accounting services to a variety of firms
for a fee. A license is required to practice public accounting. To qualify for the license,
one must meet specific educational requirements and pass a national examination.
A common job for a public accountant is auditing to ensure that a firm’s financial
statements are accurate. All publicly owned firms must have their financial statements
audited by an independent accounting firm.
(4) What is the difference between a balance sheet and an income
One difference between the two financial statements is the time covered
by the statement. The income statement summarizes the performance of a
company over a certain time period, while the balance sheet provides a
snapshot of the firm’s financial condition at any given time.
The income statement indicates the revenue, expenses, and earnings
(profits or net income) of a firm over a period of time (such as a quarter or
year). The balance sheet reports the book value of all assets, liabilities,
and owner’s equity of a firm at a given point in time. Because the two
statements reveal different financial characteristics, both financial
statements must be analyzed along with other information to perform a
complete evaluation of the firm.
(5) What is the difference between current assets and fixed assets?
Provide examples of each type of asset.
Current assets are assets that will be converted into cash within one year. They include
cash, marketable securities, accounts receivable, and inventories. Fixed assets are assets
that will be used by a firm for more than one year. They include the firm’s plant and
(6) Discuss how assets can be financed by a firm.
Assets can be financed through liabilities, which include accounts payable and notes
payable. Accounts payable represent money owed by the firm for the purchase of current
assets, such as materials or supplies. Notes payable represent short-term loans to the firm
made by creditors such as banks. Long-term liabilities are liabilities that will not be
repaid within one year. These liabilities are commonly used to finance fixed assets.
Long-term liabilities include long-term loans provided by banks and the issuance of
A firm could also issue additional stock to finance its assets, resulting in owner’s equity.
(7) Why is responsible financial reporting important?
Responsible financial reporting is important because firms have some
flexibility when accounting for their financial condition. Some firms tend
to use whatever method of accounting will inflate the earnings, because
they know that their stockholders will be more satisfied if earnings are
Using responsible financial reporting will earn the firm some credibility
with existing and prospective stockholders by providing clear and
consistent reports that are easily understood. Furthermore, the managers
who work for the firm may be more able to detect and correct deficiencies
if an understandable and logical accounting method is used.
(8) What is the role does a firm’s board of directors play in ensuring proper
financial reporting? If board members are being compensated with shares of
the firm’s stock, how could they be forced to act in the long-term interests of
A firm’s board of directors represents the shareholders and should try to prevent the firm
from providing misleading financial reports.
Board members who hold company stock may be motivated to sell their holdings of
stock while the stock price is artificially high. By being forced to hold on to their shares
for a long-term period, they would make decisions to affect the long-term performance
of the firm.
(9) Discuss the pros and cons of financial leverage for a firm.
Financial leverage represents the degree to which a firm uses borrowed funds to finance
its assets. Firms that borrow a large proportion of their funds have a high degree of
financial leverage. This can have a favorable effect on the firm’s owners when the firm
performs well, because the earnings generated by the firm can be spread among a
relatively small group of owners. However, when the firm experiences poor
performance, a high degree of financial leverage is dangerous. Firms with a high degree
of financial leverage incur higher fixed financial costs (interest expenses) that must be
paid regardless of their levels of sales. These firms may experience debt repayment
problems and have more risk. Firms with a high degree of financial leverage increase the
volatility of their earnings. Firms that obtain a larger proportion of funds from equity
financing incur smaller debt repayments and therefore have less risk.
(10) Why is profitability relevant for a firm? How can profitability be measured?
Profitability indicates the performance of a firm’s operations during a given period of
time. The overall goal of a business is to increase the value of the firm for the owners.
Increasing the profitability of the firm is important because it is the only way to increase
the value of the firm.
The income statement, provided by the accounting function, identifies the profit, or net
income, of the firm’s operations. The dollar amount of profit generated by the firm can
be expressed as a ratio relative to the firm’s level of sales (net profit margin), assets
(return on assets), or equity (return on equity).
(11) What are the limitations of ratio analysis?
Ratio analysis has some major limitations. First, comparing some firms to an industry
average can be difficult because the firms operate in more than one industry. Second, the
industry used as a benchmark for comparison may include firms that are involved in a
variety of other businesses. This distorts the average ratios for the industry. Third,
accounting practices vary among firms. Fourth, firms with seasonal swings in sales may
show large deviations from the norm at certain times but not at other times. Normally,
however, the seasonal swings should not distort annual financial statements.
(12) Discuss the effect of exchange rates on the earnings of a
foreign subsidiary whose parent corporation is located in the
A U.S. firm that has subsidiaries in foreign countries typically generates
earnings in the local currencies of the countries where those subsidiaries
are located. Any firm with foreign subsidiaries must consolidate the
financial data from all subsidiaries when preparing its financial
statements. The consolidation process requires that foreign earnings be
reported in the currency of the parent company. Changes in exchange
rates can have a major impact on the firm’s reported earnings.
(13) Why do firms have to follow GAAP, SEC regulations, and IRS regulations
when they report financial information?
They have to follow these guidelines so that all firms report standardized
financial information to shareholders and potential creditors. In this way,
financial statements for two or more companies can be compared.
(14) Why do publicly owned firms have to hire public accountants when reporting
their financial statements?
The audit by public accountants is supposed to certify that financial statements are
accurately reported in a standardized format, so that shareholders can be confident that
financial statements are accurately reported.
(15) How did the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 affect auditors’ relationships with
the firms they audit?
Auditors now must be independent of the management of the firm. This means that they
are limited in terms of non-audit services they can provide to the firm, and that managers
of the firm cannot have worked for the auditing firm in the year prior to the audit.
(16) What kinds of disincentives does the Sarbanes-Oxley Act impose to discourage
managers from falsifying financial statements?
Employees who falsify information face major fines or imprisonment.
(17) What is the difference between assets and liabilities?
Assets are anything owned by a firm, whereas liabilities are anything owed by a firm.
(18) How do current assets differ from fixed assets?
Current assets are assets that will be converted into cash within one year. Fixed assets are
those that the firm will use for more than one year.
(19) Why do manufacturing firms hold relatively little cash compared to net fixed
Manufacturing firms hold little cash because they do not earn a rate of return on cash,
and because fixed assets are used in the production process.
(20) What is meant by “responsible” financial reporting?
Responsible financial reporting involves reporting financial information fairly, and
providing shareholders with trustworthy data rather than engaging in accounting
gimmicks, which mislead investors.
Answers to Discussion Questions
(1) Discuss the concept of short-term financing for short-term assets and
long-term financing for long-term assets.
The concept of short-term financing for purchasing short-term assets means that accounts
payable or trade credit will be used to finance inventory. The concept of long-term
financing to purchase long-term assets requires the firm to use long-term liabilities (such
as notes payable or corporate bonds) or equity financing through the issuance of
corporate stock to finance the firm’s plant and equipment.
(2) How can a firm use the Internet to provide information about its financial
Answers to this question may vary. However, a firm could use the Internet to provide
information about its financial performance by using its website to either display its
recent financial performance or to provide links to downloadable files. Furthermore, a
firm could provide information about its future plans to improve its financial
(3) Indicate the ratio that measures each of the following and classify it as a
measure of liquidity, efficiency, financial leverage, or profitability: (a) the
return of profits to owners, (b) the amount of debt financing relative to the
owner’s investment, and (c) the ratio of the firm’s short-term assets to its
a. Return on equity (ROE) or profitability ratio
b. Debt-to-Equity or leverage ratio
c. Current ratio or liquidity ratio
(4) Discuss the difference between gross profit and earnings before
interest and taxes.
The earnings before interest and taxes are equal to gross profit minus operating expenses.
(5) Assume that you are planning to invest in a corporation. Before you
do this, however, you would like to examine its financial statements. Which
statements would you want to review and why?
The would-be investor would want to review the income statement to assess sales
revenues, operating expenses, and net income. The balance sheet would be of interest to
assess the financial health of the business. This investigation would determine the asset
structure and how the assets were financed. If the firm’s balance sheet shows greater
equity investment than debt financing, less risk will be associated with the investment.
(6) You are ready to invest in a company, primarily because its financial
statements have recently been audited by a reputable accounting firm. Those
statements show that the company had a very strong financial performance
recently. Why might you conduct some additional research before investing
in this firm?
There is some evidence that auditors will certify financial reports that are
misleading. Sometimes, if the auditor will not certify the financial
statements, the company will hire another auditor that will. Given these
conflicts of interest, auditors can not always be trusted to ensure that a
firm provides proper disclosure of financial information to its
(7) Why is financial reporting important for firms? What impact might financial
reporting have on the firm’s stock price?
Financial reporting provides information to shareholders so that they can make decisions
about whether they want to hold the stock. If managers report information in compliance
with accounting standards, then shareholders will be able to monitor the performance of
(8) Describe the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. How did it affect auditors and
managers of publicly owned firms?
Sarbanes-Oxley required that auditors be independent of management of the firm. It
requires the CFO and CEO of the firm to certify that the financial statements are correct.
(9) Explain the basic accounting equation. What does each component represent?
What is owner’s equity?
Assets = Liabilities + Shareholders’ Equity
Assets represent investments made by the firm
Liabilities represent funds provided by creditors
Shareholders’ equity represents funds provided by owners of the firm.
(10) Describe the interaction between (a) auditors, (b) managers, and (c) the board
of directors in ensuring accurate financial reporting.
Auditors examine the financial statements of the firm to make sure they are in
compliance with accounting regulations and are accurate. Managers select the auditor and
put together the audit committee, which provides oversight over financial reporting. The
board of directors is supposed to oversee and discipline managers in order to make sure
that they are reporting the financial operations of the firm accurately.
It’s Your Decision: Financial Management at CHC
(1) Explain why the current ratio is important to CHC.
CHC needs to maintain enough liquidity so that it can pay its future liabilities such as
rent and wages.
(2) Explain how CHC’s financial leverage can be measured. If the leverage is too
high, what is the danger to CHC?
The financial leverage can be measured as the debt-to-equity ratio. If the financial
leverage is too high, CHC will have a relatively high amount of interest payments, and
may not be able to cover those payments.
(3) Explain how Sue Kramer can monitor CHC’s performance by comparing its net
income to the amount of equity invested in CHC.
CHC can use the return on equity (ROE) to measure performance, which is equal to net
income over a time period to the equity invested in CHC. A high ROE implies a high
level of income for the given amount of equity invested, or a high return on investment.
(4) If Sue decides to expand CHC’s existing facilities, explain why its earnings may
be lower initially.
If CHC expands its facilities, it would need additional funds to cover the higher rent
expense. Its revenue will not increase until it generates extra revenue. It might not
generate extra revenue to cover the extra expenses.
(5) A health club differs from manufacturing firms in that it produces a service
rather than products. Manufacturing firms tend to require more machinery
than service firms. Explain why manufacturing firms may need more financing
than service firms.
Manufacturing firms need financing to cover the expense associated with the machinery
that is purchased.
Case: Using an Accounting System
(1) If Sue wants to assess her firm’s performance, what type of firms
should she use for purposes of comparison?
Sue should compare her firm’s performance to those of other artists with similar small
(2) Explain how the two notebooks that Sue uses could be used to develop
an income statement.
The first notebook represents the revenue generated by her firm. The second notebook
represents expenses that are incurred. The revenue and expenses of the firm are all that is
needed to construct the income statement of her business.
(3) Sue notices that her asset turnover is low. Interpret this
Her net sales were low, relative to the investment of assets. Therefore, she did not
generate a high level of sales with those assets.
(4) How will a low asset turnover ratio affect the profits at Sue’s firm?
Since a low asset turnover ratio implies low sales generated by the assets, the revenue
will not be as high as is desirable. Because the costs of using the relatively large amount
of assets are high, profits will be low.
(5) Considering this is a sole proprietorship without shareholders, do you think
responsible financial reporting still applies to Sue’s business? Why or why
Yes, responsible financial reporting still applies to Sue’s business. Even
though there are no shareholders, Sue may be tempted to deflate her
earnings in order to avoid income taxes on her business. Sue should use
whatever method of accounting provides the most accurate indication of
her financial condition.
Video Case: Reporting Information at Archway
(1) Why was Archway’s management concerned about its old information system?
Archway’s management could not obtain cost information quickly due to manual
recording of information.
(2) What kinds of problems was Archway having with coordinating information?
Archway’s information systems were not integrated, so it could not obtain cost
(3) Why do Archway’s higher level managers need a global, summarized set of
information rather than specific details about the company’s production and
Archway’s management needs to be able to identify information at a macro level in order
to examine cost information for all operations.
(4)What kinds of problems may Archway encounter as it implements the new
Archway may face substantial costs of implementing the new system and in training
employees to use the new system.
Dell’s Secret to Success
(1) Based on Dell’s focus, what items on the income statement would Dell closely
monitor to ensure that it was achieving its goals?
Dell relies on efficient production so that it can still make profits even though its prices
are low. So it would closely monitor its expenses. It would also assess its sales (revenue)
(2) What balance sheet items would be very important to Dell?
Dell would pay close attention to the amount of cash that it has, its long-term assets, and
(3) Review Dell’s comments on its website about its financial reporting. Notice how
it emphasizes the integrity of its reporting process, and how it implements
systems, controls, and processes so that it can summarize timely and accurate
information. Why do you think that Dell emphasizes its integrity when
discussing financial reporting?
Dell recognizes that investors can not always trust financial statements because some
firms have distorted their reports in the past. Dell wants to convince investors that its
financial statements are accurate.