Variance Trend Analysis

Select a line item and use Variance Trend Analysis to make some initial assessments about how the company is performing.

  • Locate and post a screen shot of a Balance Sheet from the investor relations section of the website from the latest fiscal year for one of the following companies:
    • FedEx
    • Walmart
  • Pick a Balance Sheet line item from the following list:
    • Accounts Receivable
    • Inventory
    • Property, Plant, and Equipment (PP&E)
    • Accounts Payable
    • Long-Term Debt
    • Total Equity
    • Retained Earnings
  • What does this line item measure and why is it important item for Management to understand this number?
  • From the Balance Sheet, identify the Current Year and the Previous Year closing amounts for your line item. Share these using a data table similar to the below:
Jack’s Toy Shop
(In thousands)
2018 2017
Inventory $336.2 $304.5
  • Answer the following questions:
    • Has the amount for the line item increased or decreased, and by how much (dollar and/or percentage)?
    • Is this a “good” thing or a “bad” thing for this company?
    • What might this mean for the organization?
    • What might management do to improve this line item?
  • You must use the real posted balance sheet for the company you choose. Do not use 3rd party sources to locate the balance sheet. Go under the Investor Relations section of the organization and use the “official” financial statement.
  • You must post a copy of just the “balance sheet” in the discussion.
  • After you have discussed a particular line item, ask yourself, how can I incorporate the “leadership” portion of the grading rubric in my post. What knowledge is out in the world to help explain your discussed line item. If you are discussing “long-term debt,” what value you can add. What should business owners be aware of? What calculations can we use to explain this area, and the list goes on?
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