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Vertical Analysis


Vertical analysis, in financial accounting, refers to a method of financial statement analysis in which each line item is listed as a percentage of a base figure. For an income statement, this base is typically net sales, while for a balance sheet, the base is total assets or total liabilities and shareholders’ equity. This analysis style allows for easier comparison and understanding of the relative proportions of different line items.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Vertical Analysis” is: /ˈvɜːrtɪkəl əˈnælɪsɪs/

Key Takeaways


  1. Standardization: Vertical analysis, also known as common size analysis, helps in standardizing financial information. This allows comparisons of companies of different sizes, providing a deeper understanding of the financial health of the businesses.
  2. Percentage of Sales: One key aspect of vertical analysis is that it presents each item in the financial statement as a percentage of a base figure. In the income statement, each line item is expressed as a percentage of sales, which helps in assessing cost structure and profitability.
  3. Identify Trends: Vertical analysis effectively identifies trends, particularly when performed over multiple periods. By converting the raw financial data into percentages, it facilitates trend analysis and enables the identification of key changes in a company’s performance over time.



Vertical analysis is a pivotal financial tool that enables businesses or investors to understand the relationship between individual financial statement items and the total amount of revenue. This type of analysis converts each line of a company’s financial statement into a percentage of a total figure, often revenues for the income statement, or total assets for the balance sheet. Such an approach allows for a straightforward comparison of the company’s financial performances over varying periods and against competitors, irrespective of their sizes. This insight is fundamentally important because it exposes trends and financial health indicators that may not be apparent from merely considering raw financial data, hence enhancing the decision-making process.


Vertical analysis, commonly known as common-size analysis, is an accounting method used for financial statement analysis where each line item is listed as a percentage of a base figure within the statement. Thus, each line of the income statement is shown as a percentage of gross sales or revenue, while each line of the balance sheet is shown as a percentage of total assets or liabilities. This method allows for a much simpler comparison of financial statements from different periods of an entity’s existence or between different entities.The main purpose of vertical analysis is to provide information on the relative proportion of different elements within a financial statement, offering valuable insights about the organization’s financial health. It is used by analysts, managers, and investors to evaluate the structure of the financial statements, understand underlying trends, and make informed decisions. For example, vertical analysis can be used to detect changes in an entity’s expense trends, identify potential problems in terms of growing costs or dwindling revenue, or assess how effectively the entity is utilizing its assets and managing its liabilities. By making financial data more digestible and comparative, it is a valuable tool for financial analysis and decision-making.


1. Analyzing Financial Statements: A very common real world example is when a company’s financial statements are analyzed using vertical analysis. For instance, a company might have its income statement analyzed where each item like revenue, cost of goods sold, gross profit, operating expenses, etc., are represented as a percentage of total sales. This allows for easier comparison across different periods and assesses trends in cost, profits and expenses as a proportion of sales. 2. Investment Decision: An investor considering investing in two different companies may use vertical analysis to compare them. By converting each line of the income statement into a percentage of total sales, the investor can directly compare the companies regardless of their size. This can help the investor better understand each company’s financial health and make an informed investment decision.3. Industry Comparison: Vertical analysis can also be used to compare a company’s financial health to industry standards. By conducting a vertical analysis of a company’s financial statements and comparing the results to industry averages, the company can identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. For instance, if a company’s cost of goods sold is significantly higher than average for their industry, this could indicate a need to negotiate better prices with suppliers or improve production efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Vertical Analysis in finance?

Vertical Analysis is a method of financial statement analysis in which each line item is listed as a percentage of a base figure within the statement, facilitating the scalability and comparability of the financial data.

How is Vertical Analysis different from Horizontal Analysis?

Vertical Analysis is focused on comparing different items within the same financial statement period, while Horizontal Analysis involves analyzing trends over multiple periods.

What are the key advantages of Vertical Analysis?

Vertical Analysis helps in analyzing the proportion of individual components to the whole, comparison of companies of different sizes, and identification of cost structure and spending patterns.

What are some examples of Vertical Analysis?

In an Income Statement, all items are usually expressed as a percent of Sales. In a Balance Sheet, all items are typically expressed as a percent of Total Assets.

Which financial statements are evaluated using Vertical Analysis?

Both Income Statement and Balance Sheet are evaluated using Vertical Analysis, along with any other financial statement that summarizes data in relative percentages.

How is Vertical Analysis performed?

Vertical Analysis is performed by converting each line item of a financial statement into a percentage of a chosen base amount. For example, in the Income Statement, every line item could be converted into a percentage of total sales/revenue.

Can Vertical Analysis be used for forecasting?

Yes, Vertical Analysis can be used as a tool for forecasting by analyzing trends and relationships in historical data and applying them to predict future outcomes.

Is Vertical Analysis relevant for investors?

Yes, it allows investors to compare different companies regardless of their size, making comparisons more effective.

What potential problems should I be aware of when using Vertical Analysis?

Vertical Analysis assumes a linear relationship between different line items in an income statement or a balance sheet, which is not always the case. It also cannot pick up changes in key variables over the years, something the horizontal analysis is more suited for.

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