A trend analysis examines the factors that drive business success. The analysis is used to make projections for the future, identify areas that need attention from managers, and benchmark the business against others in the industry.
A trend analysis is done by collecting data at selected times and then plotting any observed changes over longer periods.
The most common operating factors tracked in a trend analysis are:
- Sales in units/dollars
- Gross margin
- Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT)
- Cash flow from operating, investing and financing activities
- Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA)
- Earnings after tax (EAT)
- Earnings per common share (EPS)
- Stock price
The most common line items from the balance sheet included in a trend analysis are:
- Total assets
- Total liabilities
- Total shareholder equity
- Debt-to-equity ratio
- Current ratio
- Acid test ratio
Other commonly monitored factors include number of employees, ratio of client-facing employees versus non-client-facing employees, number of clients, percentage of new and existing clients, client loyalty scores and employee engagement scores.