In this article, I want to introduce a fast and easy way to analyze the performance of any company, the trend analysis. This is the best way to understand the fundamental of any company. In fact, the purpose of this analysis is to determine how the target company performance evolved over time.
- Analysis set up
- Analysis Overview – make a very few assumptions
- Step-One: financial ratios set-up & two-year comparison
- Step number two: DuPont analysis
- Step three: select comparable set-up and comparative analysis completion
Analysis set up
We are going to perform this analysis up by taking three simple steps. But before we do that we have to have all the information needed available. Where do we find this information? Easy, we look at the target company’s website.
Analysis Overview – make a very few assumptions
In many financial analyses (especially those based on forecasts and financial models), the starting point is to make assumptions. In our analysis, instead, we want to make as few assumptions as possible.
In fact, we are going to let the financials speak for themselves. How? Through three simple steps: in step number one, we are going to select a set of that we will use as analytical tools to understand our target company.
In step number two, we are going to perform a DuPont analysis to understand how the evolved over time. Indeed, since we want to make very few assumptions, we are going to drill-down into the ROE and see what influenced it.
Let’s proceed with order:
Step-One: set-up & two-year comparison
In this step, we are going to select a set of ratios that will guide us toward our analysis. are metrics that help us in comprehending the main financial statements. To have a more detailed account of how they work check out our previous article on ratio analysis here.
In this phase, we have to select some ratios to assess few main aspects of the that we will divide into four main categories: profitability, liquidity, leverage and efficiency. In this phase, we are going to leave valuation out, which we are going to include in the third step of our analysis.
Once selected these ratios we have to run them for the current and previous year. This is because we want to understand how the company’s trend evolved over time. In this specific case, I decided to do an analysis for 2014 and 2015 for simplicity sake.
As you can see from the above table I picked ten different ratios and run them to understand how Apple Inc. performance changed from 2014 to 2015. The table shows increased profitability, liquidity, leverage and efficiency.
The only negative number that you see in this table is a good sign. This is because the receivable in days ratio tells us how long it takes for the company to collect the money from the customers that buy on credit.
In short, the shortest the time it takes for a company to collect money from its customers the more it becomes liquid over time. In Apple Inc. specific case, the receivable in days decreased by 12%, from 30.5 days to 26.8 days.
This is definitely a good sign. In fact, usually a number, which goes below 60 days, is positive, and in this case below 30 days is an extremely positive result.
After completing step one, we can move forward to our second step.
Step number two: DuPont analysis
In fact, as you can see from the previous table our ROE increased from 33% to 46%.
As you can see from this table, although the ROE increased substantially it did so due to leverage and profitability. In short, the company was able to improve itsbut also to contract more debt.
These two factors combined made the company ROE skyrocket. We are ready to move to our third and last step.
Step three: select comparable set-up and comparative analysis completion
In this phase here we have to select some comparable. In short, we want to select companies, which present the same features as our target firm. Afterward, we can relate the main financial ratios of our target company against those of the comparable.
The objective here is to understand the competitive context. In short, although we can make a first assessment of the company’s financials through the first and second step, we are still missing some pieces to complete our puzzle.
The business profile attains to qualitative aspects of the , which we can synthesize in four properties:
- Sector – in what sector does the target company operate?
- Product and services – what are the core products and services the target company offers?
- Distribution channel – how does the target company get to its end customers?
- Geography – what is the main market where our target company operates?
For instance, Apple Inc. operates in the consumer goods category and electronic equipment category. Its main products are iPhone, iPod, MAC (which make up most of its).
Apple Inc. distributes its products mainly through its own retails stores, and the primary market is the U.S. (although the company operates worldwide and currently Greater China makes up for 25% of the company’s sales).
The financial profile attains to quantitative aspects of the . We are going to consider five main aspects:
- Size – Market cap, income , net
- Profitability – Average net margin, or last three or five years
- Growth profile – Where does the revenue growth come from? Geography and product analysis
- Return on investment
- Credit profile – What rating was the company assigned lately? Or what level of the company has?
For instance, Apple Inc. 2015 market cap surpassed $500 billion dollars, with over $230 billion dollars in and over $50 billion in .
It is time to select Apple’s main comparable.
For simplicity sake, here I want to highlight the fact that when selected Apple comparable I gave more importance to criteria such as geography, products and services, size, and profitability.
In fact, Apple has been able to achieve a powerful position in so many different industries in the tech world and therefore it has also several direct competitors. For instance, in the smartphone industry, Apple’s direct competitors are Samsung, Sony, Lenovo and so on.
In the personal computer industry, Apple’s main competitors are Microsoft, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. We could go on forever.
Although, my assumption here is that de facto Apple’s success was mainly due to its ability to integrate several products through a very intuitive interface that differentiated it from its competitors.
In short, I am assuming (sometimes we have to use assumptions) that the future battle in the tech industry will be played on the software side, rather than the hardware. Therefore, the two biggest players, which are competing against Apple in this respect, are Microsoft and Google.
Perform comparative analysis
In this table is summarized the financial performance of Apple Inc. in comparison with Microsoft and Google for 2015. As you can see from the date Apple has better and efficiency ratios but also worse liquidity, leverage and market valuation ratios.
Wrap-up and Conclusions
In step-two, we went further and analyzed how the ROE evolved over time.
Eventually in step-three, we sleeted comparable companies, and performed a comparative analysis to determine how our target company performed in comparison to the group of company, which operate in the same context.
From the above analysis, you can already be able to draw some conclusions but also investigate further what is going on with our target company. But I hope this article wasn’t too long. Therefore, we will remand our further investigations to another future occasion.
Resources for your business:
- What Is a Business Model? 30 Successful Types of Business Models You Need to Know
- What Is a Business Model Canvas? Business Model Canvas Explained
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- What Is Business Development? The Complete Guide To Business Development
- The Three Most Important Financial Ratios for the Manager
- 13 Financial Ratios Formulas To Analyse Any Business
- What Is a Financial Ratio? The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Financial Ratios
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