Common size statements are not financial ratios. Rather they are a way of presenting financial statements that makes them more suitable for analysis. However, analysts always use them in conjunction with ratio analysis. In fact, financial analysts use common size statements as the starting point to help them dig deeper. Common size statements tell them what particular group of ratios deserves more attention for any given set of financial statements.
Common size statements are financial statements expressed in percentage form. Therefore a common size income statement would consider the sales figure as 100%. Every expense in the income statement will then be expressed as a percentage of the sales figure. Similarly in common size balance sheet the total assets figure is considered to be 100%. Everything else is expressed as a percentage of the same.
Standardized for Comparison
The logic behind creating common size financial statements is that they are easily comparable. Analysts can compare the COGS across two companies and state which one has lower COGS without any calculation! Thus, using the common size statements the analysts look step by step at the financial statements and compare them with other companies. This helps them understand how the company has a different asset structure and cost structure in comparison to its competitors and whether it is favorable or unfavorable for the organization.
Trend analysis is analysis which entails comparison with the company’s own past performance. The problem in conducting this analysis is that all the numbers keep changing and there is no fixed base. With the help of common size statements, the base gets fixed at 100% and all the numbers can be compared across years. Thus with the help of this trend analysis, a company can figure out whether its advertising costs have gone up compared to last year and if so why?
Sample of a typical common size income statement: