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What is a Common-Size Statement?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 June 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The common-size statement is a financial document that is often utilized as a quick and easy reference for the finances of a corporation or business. Unlike balance sheets and other financial statements, the common-size statement does not reflect exact figures for each line item. Instead, the structure of the common size statement uses a common base figure, and assigns a percentage of that figure to each line item or category reflected on the document.

A company may choose to utilize financial statements of this type to present a quick snapshot of how much of the company’s collected or generated revenue is going toward each operational function within the organization. The use of a common-size statement can make it possible to quickly identify areas that may be utilizing more of the operating capital than is practical at the time, and allow budgetary changes to be implemented to correct the situation.

The common size statement can also be a helpful tool in comparing the financial structures and operation strategies of two different companies. The use of percentages in the common size statements removes the issue of which company generates more revenue, and brings the focus on how the revenue is utilized within each of the two businesses. Often, the use of a common-size statement in this manner can help to identify areas where each company is utilizing resources efficiently, as well as areas where there is room for improvement.

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Common-size statements can be prepared for any review period desired. Companies that choose to make use of financial statements of this type may choose to utilize this format for quarterly, semi-annual, or annual reviews. When there is concern about operational costs, the common-size statement may be prepared on a more frequent basis, such as monthly. Because the common-size statement is very easy to read and does not necessarily contain information that would be considered proprietary, the format can often be employed as part of general information that is released to the public.

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