Horizontal Analysis

What is Horizontal Analysis?

Horizontal analysis interprets the change in financial statements over two or more accounting periods based on the historical data. It denotes the percentage change in the same line item of the next accounting period compared to the value of the baseline accounting period.

Understanding Horizontal Analysis

Horizontal Analysis is used for evaluating trends year over year (YoY) or quarter over quarter (QoQ). If you are an investor and thinking about investing in a company, only a year-end balance sheet or income statement wouldn’t be enough for you to judge how a company is doing. You need to look at a couple of years at least to be sure. Better yet, if you can see many years of balance sheets and income statements and make a comparison among them.

Through horizontal analysis of financial statements, you would be able to see two actual data for consecutive years and would be able to compare each and every item. And on the basis of that, you can forecast the future and understand the trend.

You don’t need any special financial skill to ascertain the difference between the previous year’s data and last year’s data. All you need is diligence, attention to details, and a logical mind to decipher why the change happens.

Horizontal Analysis

In this GKSR example above, we are able to identify the YoY growth rate using Horizontal Analysis of Income Statement. It helps us identify potentials areas of growth and concerns.

For example, in GKSR, we note that the provision for income tax has increased by 12.6%; however, revenues have increased by only 5.5%. Why did provisions increase at a higher rate? Also, there has been a comparatively higher growth of 9.1% in Selling and Admin costs. What could have contributed to this increase?

As we see, we are able to correctly identify the trends and also come up with relevant areas to target for further analysis.

Horizontal Analysis Formula

First, we need to take the previous year as the base year and last year as the comparison year. For example, let’s say we are comparing between 2015 and 2016; we will take 2015 as the base year and 2016 as the comparison year.

Horizontal Analysis formula = [(Amount in comparison year – Amount in the base year)/ Amount in a base year]  x 100

Horizontal Analysis

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For eg:
Source: Horizontal Analysis (wallstreetmojo.com)

Horizontal Analysis Example

Let us assume that we are provided with the Income Statement data of company ABC. We need to perform horizontal analysis of the income statement of this company.

Details2016 (In US $)2015 (In US $)AmountPercentage
Sales30,00,00028,00,000200,000 *7.14% **
(-) Cost of Goods SoldCost Of Goods SoldThe Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the cumulative total of direct costs incurred for the goods or services sold, including direct expenses like raw material, direct labour cost and other direct costs. However, it excludes all the indirect expenses incurred by the company. read more (COGS)(21,00,000)(20,00,000)100,0005%
Gross Profit900,000800,000100,00012.50%
General Expenses180,000120,00060,00050%
Selling ExpensesSelling ExpensesThe amount of money spent by the sales department on selling a product is referred to as selling expenses. This includes expenses incurred on advertising, distribution and marketing. Because it is indirectly related to the production and delivery of goods and services, it is classified as an indirect cost.read more220,000230,000(10,000)(4.35%)
Total Operating Expenses(400,000)(350,000)50,00014.29%
Operating Income500,000450,00050,00011.11%
Interest expensesInterest ExpensesInterest expense is the amount of interest payable on any borrowings, such as loans, bonds, or other lines of credit, and the costs associated with it are shown on the income statement as interest expense.read more(50,000)(50,000)§§
Profit before Income Tax450,000400,00050,00012.50%
Income Tax(125,000)(100,000)25,00025%
Net Income325,000300,00025,0008.33%

This is a basic example, where we have divided our approach into two parts. First, we found the absolute difference between the comparative years.

Likewise, we can do the same for all the other entries in the Income Statement.

Colgate Horizontal Analysis

Let us now look at the horizontal analysis of Colgate’s Income Statement. Here we have the YoY growth rates of Colgate’s Income statement from 2008 until 2015. We calculate the growth rate of each of the line items with respect to the previous year.

For example, to find the growth rate of Net Sales of 2015, the formula is (Net Sales 2015 – Net Sales 2014) / Net Sales 2014.
Horizontal Analysis - Income Statement Colgate

Here are the following observations from Colgate’s.

Uses in Financial Modeling

Horizontal Analysis is very useful for Financial Modeling and ForecastingFinancial Modeling And ForecastingFinancial modeling refers to the use of excel-based models to reflect a company's projected financial performance. Such models represent the financial situation by taking into account risks and future assumptions, which are critical for making significant decisions in the future, such as raising capital or valuing a business, and interpreting their impact.read more. The approach used here is fairly simple.

  • Step 1 – Perform the horizontal analysis of income statement and balance sheet historical data.
  • Step 2 – Based on the YoY or QoQ growth rates, you can make an assumption about future growth rates.

Let us now look at Colgate 10K 2013 report. We note that in the income statement, Colgate has not provided segmental information; however, as additional information, Colgate has provided some details of segments on Page 87 Colgate Segment InformationSource – Colgate 2013 – 10K, Page 86

Since we do not have any further information about the segments, we will project the future sales of Colgate on the basis of this available data. We will use the sales growth approach across segments to derive the forecasts. Please see the below picture. We have calculated the year-over-year growth rate for each segment. Colgate - Revenue ProjectionsNow we can assume a sales growth percentage based on the historical trends and project the revenues under each segment. Total Net sales are the sum total of the Oral, Personal & Home Care, and Pet Nutrition Segment. Colgate - Revenue Projections - complete

Horizontal Analysis Video


This article has been a guide to what is horizontal analysis. Here we discuss the formula of horizontal analysis on the income statement and balance sheet along with practical examples. You may go through the following articles for further readings on financial analysis

Reader Interactions


  1. Ajeet says

    Helpful article . easy to understand. thank you so much.

    • Dheeraj Vaidya says

      Thanks for your kind words!

  2. Syed Talat Abbas Rizvi says

    thank you dheeraj vaidya

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