How Do I Read and Analyze an Income Statement?


A balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement are the three most common financial statements for small business owners. Broadly, financial statements are reports that show a business’ performance and profitability. An income statement summarizes the performance and profitability of a business. It calculates final profit after tax by tallying revenuesRevenuesRevenue is the amount of money that a business can earn in its normal course of business by selling its goods and services. This document is prepared to discover areas where expenses can be controlled and more income can be generated.

Depreciation in the income statement

This document communicates a wealth of information to those reading it—from key executives and stakeholders to investors and employees. Being able to read an income statement is important, but knowing how to generate one is just as critical. An income statement is one of three major financial statements used to evaluate the health of a company, along with the balance sheet and cash flow statement. There are several terms you’ll need to understand in order to know how to read an income statement.


The income statement is the most important of the three (but don’t tell the others we said that). In contrast, a horizontal analysis compares the dollar amounts in a company’s income statements over multiple reporting periods. For example, it compares a company’s revenue in one quarter to its revenue in the same quarter the year before. This type of analysis allows investors to see how a company is growing and performing over time. A major part of an income statement is the gross income or gross profit section.

Revenue and Gains

Finance Strategists is a leading financial education organization that connects people with financial professionals, priding itself on providing accurate and reliable financial information to millions of readers each year. At Finance Strategists, we partner with financial experts to ensure the accuracy of our financial content. It can also be used to make decisions about inorganic or organic growth, company strategies, and analyst consensus. Income statements serve as an indicator of how successful the implemented strategies are and whether there are areas that need improvement. It starts with the top-line item which is the sales revenue amounting to $90,000.

  1. Like the name mentions, the figures on the balance sheet must match as any increases or decreases must be offset.
  2. When calculating gross profit, take a company’s revenue and subtract the cost of goods sold, operating expenses, interest, taxes, legal judgments, and all other expenses.
  3. From managers to potential investors, it allows them to see many factors of the organization’s dealings and enables them to make the decisions that will best benefit them.
  4. This makes it easier for users of the income statement to better comprehend the operations of the business.
  5. However, balance sheets are usually for a specific date, while income statements are for longer periods, like a month, quarter, or year.

What is the approximate value of your cash savings and other investments?

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Cost of goods sold

The statement is one of the most important for investors to analyze, as it contains the most important information that affects the share price. Investors can use the statement to determine whether the organization’s share price is correct or if there is a way to make a profit. This section of the statement deals with the income or losses that are the consequences of extraordinary events.

The purpose of an income statement is to show a company’s financial performance over a given time period. Unlike the balance sheet, the income statement calculates net income or loss over a range of time. For example annual statements use revenues and expenses over a 12-month period, while quarterly statements focus on revenues and expenses incurred during a 3-month period. An Income Statement is a financial statement that shows the revenues and expenses of a company over a specific accounting period. A balance sheet provides a snapshot of the value of a company’s assets, liabilities and equity at a specific point in time, typically the last day of an accounting period.

If you’re ready to seek funding for your business, lenders look at your financial statements as they determine your eligibility for a business loan. Public companies are also required to publish their financial statements in an annual report. One of the key financial statements that summarizes the revenues, expenses, and gross or net profit (and losses, if any) for the period.

Non-operating revenue comes from ancillary sources such as interest income from capital held in a bank or income from rental of business property. There are a few red flags that can indicate trouble with your financial statements. Incorporating financial statements into your workflow and processes can not only help you better manage your business, but they can highlight areas in need of improvement and opportunities for growth. Read the statement, address any discrepancies, and use it to understand your business’s financial health better.

However, relevance to the reader may dictate that a better approach is to present expenses by function, in which case the layout changes to something similar to the following example. This format usually works best for a larger organization that has multiple departments. An example is if the organization has an expensive but socially and ethically responsible production process. They may decide to forego that process and choose cheaper but socially irresponsible options, which may lead to lawsuits or boycotts in the future. The final way to benchmark is by benchmarking against their historical performance.

If the expenses are too high for one period, the organization can look at the income statement and identify costs that are causing and take steps to minimize them. The financial statement shows the organization’s performance in terms of the money it receives for its key business dealings (revenue) and the money it spends to gain this money (expense) over a certain period. Every company has costs of doing business, and these expenses are included in the income statement. If certain expenses meet IRS guidelines, a company may be able to deduct them from taxable income.

It shows the revenue and profit generated from operations as well as other gains and losses. Investors and other stakeholders examine income statements to see how profitably leaders run a business. The company’s three main financial statements—the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement—each serve a different purpose, although they are interrelated.

So is operating income, which you generate from day-to-day business activities. Non-operating income is inconsistent and unpredictable, so you can’t rely on it to produce annual profits. Your business must produce a majority of its net income from operating income activities because operating income is sustainable. Most companies produce a multi-step income statement, which documents how a firm produces net income. In a multi-step income statement, you first find your gross profit then your operating income for a period of time. Since these records are prepared internally, there are chances of manipulation and forgery.