Common Size Financial Statements

Common Size Financial Statements expresses every item of financial statement in terms of a percentage of one convenient base parameter. The base item for common size balance sheet is taken as the total assets (for assets side) and total liabilities (for liabilities side), while for common size (Profit and Loss Statement) income and expenditure statement; the base parameter is taken as sales or revenue.

The common size financial analysis is also called vertical analysis. Common size ratios can be calculated as below:

Common Size Ratio

Concerned Parameter

Base parameter

For e.g., if your concerned parameter is inventory, we have

Common Size Ratio for Inventory


Total Assets

Thus, common ratios are expressed as a percentage of the base parameter. In the above case, inventory being a part of “Assets side of Balance Sheet” is expressed as a percentage of the total assets. 

Common Size Financial StatementUse of Common Size Financial Statements

Comparing Two Companies

Although most companies don’t report their financial statements in common ratios, these ratios may help in comparing two companies which differ in size. By expressing all the parameters in terms of percentage of sales or assets, the bias can be removed. One can use common size ratios to benchmark the company against the best in the business. This will help in evaluating where the business stands on various parameters as against competitors. 

Comparing the Performance of a Company over a Period of Time

Common size financial statements can also be used to evaluate the performance of a company over different periods of time. One can evaluate what percentage of sales was the cost of goods sold 5 years before, as compared to the current figure. This can present a fair idea of how the company has fared in respect of various years. 

Example Explaining Common Size Financial Statements

Firm X:

It maintains cash in hand at USD 8,000. And it has total assets of USD 100,000. Thus, the

Common Ratio of Cash in Hand






Firm Y:                     

It maintains cash in hand at USD 30,000. And it has total assets of USD 150, 000. Thus, the

Common Ratio of Cash in Hand






Thus, one can interpret that firm X maintains lesser cash in hand than Y. Going one step further, X manages with less cash in hand and therefore effectively using financial resources and saving on interest costs. If X and Y are in the same industry, Y can think of improving in the respect of Cash Utilization.  Thus, using common size financial statements, one can compare the performance of two companies.

Limitations of Common Sized Financial Statements

  • Different firms may adopt different accounting practices. In that case, the common ratios may not be directly comparable. In that case, adjustments will have to be made in order to compare the common ratios. 
  • Different firms may adopt different accounting principles. The Even same firm may adopt different accounting standards over a period of time. Thus, adjustments will have to be made in order to compare the ratios.

Last updated on : August 1st, 2017
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