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This project allows students the opportunity to perform critical
thinking, by addressing specific financial trends and industry
comparisons for a company of their choosing.  This project will be a
comparison/contrast paper that shows a demonstration of the
application of financial analysis and critical thinking in a large
organization.  The student will be performing trend analysis and
industry comparisons on 3-4 years worth of financial statement data
(whatever tells the story).

Trend Analysis & Ratio Analysis

Ratio analysis uses percentage or decimal calculations of comparison
to at least two different sets of financial data.  You are comparing
how one relates (compares) to another.  Decision makers use ratios
because they illuminate relationships between financial data taken
from the company’s statements.

Although ratio analysis can be used to evaluate financial performance,
the number, by itself, does not reveal the entire story.  To take the
analysis to the next level, one must engage in trend analysis.  Trend
analysis utilizes the aforementioned ratios and shows the changes in
those ratios, over time.  Stakeholders can use trend analysis to not
only compare “this year” to “last year” for this company, but can
compare each year to the industry as a whole and even to the number
one competitor for benchmarking purposes.

When you are setting up your paper, it would help to group your ratios
and analysis together by content area (profitability, debt management,
asset utilization, liquidity, and market value ratios).


Choose a publicly traded, publicly held, U.S. company.  This means you
need to pick a company that is public and has stock.    You will use a
variety of sites to find your financial date.  Start with either
Yahoo! Finance site or These two sites will allow you
to capture one year of data for each of the two companies you are
going to review as well as the industry ratios you will need. You will
need to acquire annual reports for the company sites for years older
than the most current year. You will need to review three – five years
of financial information on this company, more years of data will
produce a more thorough analysis.

Specific areas of analysis are noting major ratio categories and
identifying whether the trend is up or down, whether that is good or
bad, and why.  Once the data are gathered, analyzed, and trends
revealed; the student will acquire the same information for a
competitor within the same industry.  The same ratio and trend
analysis will be gathered for the competitor.  A comparison will
ensue, identifying specific strengths and weaknesses of various
components of the financial statements.   Upon completion of the
original company trend analysis and the competitor’s trend analysis,
an analysis and trend comparison with the industry is required.  This
will allow the student to demonstrate an understanding of financial
ratios and what trends are present among two different companies in
one industry, as well as, being able to determine the position of the
industry and be able to project future trends and how the company
being evaluated can budget for changes in the industry.

            So . . . .what is required . . . .

1.     Your chosen company (financial ratios and trend analysis)

a.     Using the data provided at the Yahoo! Finance site, use the
ratios in the textbook and determine the status of your chosen company
based on those ratios.  Also, identify any trends you notice and what
the impact might be if those trends continue.  The ratios you will be
reviewing are the same ratios as you will find in chapter 3, page 95
of the text.  Note that some of these ratios may not be applicable to
your company.  Some ratios are specific to certain types of firms.
Not all firms carry significant accounts receivable as an example.

2.     A competitor in the same industry (financial ratios and trend analysis)

a.     Using the data provided at the site, use the ratios in the
textbook and determine the status of your chosen competitor based on
those ratios.  Also, identify any trends you notice and what the
impact might be if those trends continue.

3.     The industry as a whole; how does your chosen company compare
and what evaluations can you make (predict) for future financial

a.     Review industry data and determine where these two companies
fit within that industry.  Are they leaders/followers?  What does the
future hold for this industry?

4.     Using your chosen company and the current conditions in the
financial markets, assume the firm needs to raise a large amount of
cash.  Compare the choices of raising these funds in the capital
market (selling new shares of stock) versus the bond market (debt
financing), and make a decision as to what is best and why.  Also,
consider ethical implications of financial reporting and how it
relates to acquiring additional investors and accessing markets for
additional capital.

5.     Take one of the following positions and justify your decision:

a.     You are a banker who has been approached by this company to
borrow a sum of money (you decide how much, and why).  Based on the
company’s financials and its future business prospects, would you loan
the money?  Why or why not.

b.     You are an investor with a large sum of money (or a company
looking for an investment), and buying either the company or shares of
stock in the company is being considered.  Determine, based on the
company’s financials and its future business prospects, whether you
will invest in this company or not.

There is no specific number of pages required to do this assignment,
but past experience has shown it takes at least 8-10 pages of text to
adequately complete this assignment.  This is a critical thinking
assignment so all the specifics are not laid out in front of you.  You
must research, assess, analyze, and strategize about the company you
have chosen, the competitors, and the industry as a whole.

When using the Yahoo! Finance site or other similar financial sites,
you are going to have access to a large volume of data, as well as
company websites.  Understand this must be cited using APA
methodology.  DO NOT COPY and PASTE anything from this or other
sources without proper citing.

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