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Income Statement Analysis: Key Areas & Example

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Income Statement AnalysisIncome statement analysis, also known as profit and loss (P&L) analysis, involves the examination and interpretation of a company’s income statement. The income statement, one of the three main financial statements, summarizes a company’s revenues, expenses, and profits over a specific period, such as a quarter or a year.

Key Terms

Understanding key terms of an income statement is essential in analyzing a company’s financial performance and making informed decisions about its operational efficiency, profitability, and overall financial health.

Term Definition
Revenue (Sales) The total amount of money earned by the company from its primary business activities, such as sales of goods or services.
Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) The direct costs associated with producing the goods or services sold by the company, including materials and labor.
Gross Profit The difference between revenue and the cost of goods sold, representing the profit generated from core business operations.
Operating Expenses The costs incurred in the day-to-day operations of the business, including salaries, rent, utilities, marketing, and other overhead expenses.
Operating Income (Operating Profit) The profit derived from subtracting operating expenses from gross profit, indicating the company’s profitability from its core operations.
Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization is a measure of a company’s operating performance, excluding non-operating expenses.
Net Income The final profit or loss figure after deducting all expenses, taxes, and interest from revenue, representing the company’s bottom line or overall profitability.

Key Activities

Here’s a table outlining activities and financial ratios in income statement analysis, what to assess within each activity, and the interpretation of the findings:

Activity What to Assess Specific Focus Interpretation
Profitability Analysis Overall profitability of the company – Gross Profit Margin = (gross profit / revenue) * 100

– Operating Profit Margin = (operating profit / revenue) * 100

– Net Profit Margin = (net profit / revenue) * 100

Higher margins indicate better profitability.
Expense Analysis Efficiency and control over expenses – Identify major expense categories

– Assess expense trends over time

Identify cost-cutting opportunities and operational efficiency opportunities.
Trend Analysis Changes and patterns in financial performance – Compare income statements over multiple periods

– Revenue/ Profitability over quarters/ annual/ time

– Expenses over time

Identify and elaborate on trends in revenue growth, expense management, and overall performance.
Comparative Analysis Company performance relative to industry benchmarks or competitors – Compare key ratios with industry averages: revenue growth rate, earnings per share (EPS)

– Benchmark against competitors

Assess the company’s relative position and competitiveness within the industry.
Earnings Quality Assessment The sustainability and reliability of reported earnings – Assess consistency in earnings growth

– Assess the consistency and reliability of reported profits.

– Examine non-recurring items and one-time gains/losses

Ensure earnings are not artificially inflated or volatile.
Non-GAAP Adjustments Evaluation of non-GAAP measures provided by the company – Understand the rationale for non-GAAP adjustments

– Assess impact on reported earnings

Consider whether non-GAAP adjustments provide a clearer picture of performance.

These activities provide a comprehensive approach to income statement analysis, offering insights into the company’s profitability, expense management, trends, competitiveness, earnings quality, and the impact of non-GAAP adjustments. Interpretations should take into account industry benchmarks, historical performance, and the company’s specific business context.

Example: Apple Inc. Income Statement Analysis (2020-2023)

Here is an analysis of Apple Inc.’s income statements for the 2020-2023 financial period. Access a copy of the income statement here.

A. Profitability Analysis

Profitability Ratio 2020 2021 2022 2023
Gross Profit Margin = (104956/ 274515) * 100

= 38.23%

= (152836/ 365817) * 100

= 41.78%

= (170782/ 394328) * 100

= 43.31%

= (169148/ 383285) * 100

= 44.13%

Operating Profit Margin = (66288/ 274515) * 100

= 24.15%

= (108949/ 365817) * 100

= 29.78%

= (119437/ 394328) * 100

= 30.29%

= (114301/ 383285) * 100

= 29.82%

Net Profit Margin = (57411/ 274515) * 100

= 20.91%

= (94680/ 365817) * 100

= 25.88%

= (99803/ 394328) * 100

= 25.31%

= (96995/ 383285) * 100

= 25.31%

B. Expenses Analysis

Expense 2020 2021 2022 2023
Selling/General/Admin. Expenses, Total 19916 21973 25094 24932
Research & Development 18752 21914 26251 29915
Depreciation / Amortization 1356 1784 2404 3019
Interest Expense (Income) – Net Operating -2873 -2645 -2931 -3933
Other Operating Expenses, Total 1517 861 527 914

C. Trends Analysis

Let’s conduct a trends analysis for Apple Inc using the provided data for the years 2020 to 2023:

  1. Gross Profit Margin:
    • The gross profit margin has been steadily increasing from 38.23% in 2020 to 44.13% in 2023.
    • This indicates that Apple has been improving its efficiency in managing production costs, possibly through economies of scale, efficient supply chain management, or product mix optimization, resulting in a higher percentage of revenue retained as gross profit.
  2. Operating Profit Margin:
    • The operating profit margin increased significantly from 24.15% in 2020 to 30.29% in 2022 but saw a slight decrease to 29.82% in 2023.
    • Apple Inc. demonstrated strong operational efficiency, with a notable improvement in 2021.
    • The small decrease in 2023 might be worth monitoring for future trends; it may face challenges in maintaining the same level of efficiency.
  3. Net Profit Margin:
    • The net profit margin has remained relatively stable, ranging from 20.91% in 2020 to 25.31% in 2022 and 2023.
    • Apple has maintained a consistent level of profitability after accounting for all expenses, including taxes and interest.
  4. Selling/General/Admin. Expenses:
    • The expenses in this category have been consistently increasing from $19,916 million in 2020 to $24,932 million in 2023.
    • A consistent increase suggests that Apple is investing in areas related to sales, general operations, and administration. Stakeholders should assess whether the growth aligns with revenue growth and overall business strategy.
  5. Research & Development (R&D) Expenses:
    • R&D expenses have shown a continuous upward trend, growing from $18,752 million in 2020 to $29,915 million in 2023.
    • The continuous upward trend indicates a commitment to innovation. This aligns with Apple’s reputation for developing cutting-edge products and staying competitive in the technology industry.
  6. Depreciation / Amortization:
    • Depreciation and amortization expenses have been consistently increasing, reflecting the ongoing investment in capital assets and intangible assets.
    • The growth in these expenses may be associated with the development and acquisition of new technologies and assets.
  7. Interest Expense (Income) – Net Operating:
    • The interest expense (income) has been negative, indicating that Apple has been earning more interest income than incurring interest expenses.
    • The negative values suggest that Apple is effectively managing its interest-related costs and potentially generating income from investments.
    • Investors may view this favorably as it implies additional income.
  8. Other Operating Expenses:
    • Other operating expenses have shown some variability, decreasing from $1,517 million in 2020 to $527 million in 2022 before increasing to $914 million in 2023.
    • The fluctuations in other operating expenses may be attributed to various factors such as changes in business operations, restructuring, or one-time events.

D. Comparative Analysis (vs. Industry Averages)

Ratio Apple Inc. Technology Industry
Y/Y Revenue Growth (Q4 MRQ) 2.07% 6.82%
5-Year Average Revenue Growth Rate 7.61% 9.31%
5-Year Average Operating Income Change 10.02% 10.62%
5-Year Average Net Income Growth 10.26% 10.79%
Y/Y EPS Net Growth (Q4 MRQ) 15.96% 39.65%
5-Year Average EPS Net Change 15.54% 11.79%

Let’s conduct a comparative analysis of Apple Inc. against the Technology Industry based on this data:

  1. Year-over-Year (Y/Y) Revenue Growth (Q4 MRQ):
    • Apple Inc.: 2.07% vs. Technology Industry: 6.82%
    • Analysis: The Technology Industry has a higher year-over-year revenue growth rate compared to Apple Inc., indicating that the industry as a whole is experiencing faster revenue expansion.
  2. 5-Year Average Revenue Growth Rate:
    • Apple Inc.: 7.61% vs. Technology Industry: 9.31%
    • Analysis: While both Apple Inc. and the Technology Industry have experienced positive revenue growth over the past five years, the Technology Industry’s growth rate is higher on average, suggesting that other companies within the industry have outperformed Apple Inc. in revenue growth.
  3. 5-Year Average Operating Income Change:
    • Apple Inc.: 10.02% vs. Technology Industry: 10.62%
    • Analysis: The average change in operating income over the past five years is similar for both Apple Inc. and the Technology Industry. This indicates that Apple Inc.’s operating income has grown at a comparable rate to the industry average.
  4. 5-Year Average Net Income Growth:
    • Apple Inc.: 10.26% vs. Technology Industry: 10.79%
    • Analysis: Apple Inc.’s 5-year average net income growth is slightly lower than the Technology Industry average, suggesting that, on average, companies in the industry have experienced slightly higher net income growth over the same period.
  5. Y/Y Earnings-per-Share (EPS) Net Growth (Q4 MRQ):
    • Apple Inc.: 15.96% vs. Technology Industry: 39.65%
    • Analysis: Apple Inc. exhibits a significantly lower year-over-year EPS net growth compared to the Technology Industry. This indicates that other companies in the industry have seen substantial growth in earnings per share during the most recent quarter.
  6. 5-Year Average EPS Net Change:
    • Apple Inc.: 15.54% vs. Technology Industry: 11.79%
    • Analysis: Apple Inc. has a higher average change in earnings per share over the past five years compared to the industry average. This suggests that while Apple Inc. may have experienced slower growth in EPS compared to its industry peers in the most recent quarter, its performance over the longer term has been relatively strong.
  7. Overall Assessment:
    • Apple Inc. generally performs well in terms of average net income and EPS net change over a 5-year period.
    • However, in recent quarters, Apple Inc. lags behind the Technology Industry in year-over-year revenue growth and EPS net growth.
    • Investors may want to assess whether Apple’s strategy aligns with industry trends and whether recent performance is indicative of a short-term fluctuation or a more sustained trend.

E. Earnings Quality Assessment

Earnings (Cash Flows) 2020 2021 2022 2023
Net Income 57411 94680 99803 96995
Cash From Operating Activities 80674 104038 1122151 110543
Cash From Investing Activities -4289 -14545 -22354 3705
Cash From Financing Activities -86820 -93353 -110749 -108488
Net Change in Cash -10435 -3860 -10952 5760

Let’s perform an earnings quality assessment for Apple Inc. using this financial data for the years 2020 to 2023:

  1. Consistency in Earnings and Cash Flow:
    • Apple Inc.’s net income has shown fluctuations over the years, with an increase from 2020 to 2021 followed by a slight decrease in 2022 and 2023.
    • Cash flow from operating activities has generally increased over the same period, indicating positive cash generation from core business operations. However, the significant spike in 2022 warrants further investigation.
  2. Operating Cash Flow vs. Net Income:
    • In 2020 and 2021, Apple Inc.’s operating cash flow exceeded net income, suggesting that reported earnings were supported by actual cash generated from core business operations.
    • However, in 2022 and 2023, despite the increase in net income, the gap between operating cash flow and net income widened significantly, with operating cash flow far surpassing net income. This divergence raises questions about the quality of reported earnings and potential non-cash factors impacting net income.
  3. Cash Flow from Investing and Financing Activities:
    • Cash flow from investing activities reflects capital expenditures and investments in assets. Apple Inc. has consistently invested in its business, with cash outflows in this category.
    • Cash flow from financing activities represents cash flows from debt and equity financing. Apple Inc. has predominantly shown cash outflows in this category, indicating debt repayments and share repurchases.
  4. Net Change in Cash:
    • The net change in cash indicates the overall change in Apple Inc.’s cash position during each period.
    • Given fluctuations in cash flows from operating, investing, and financing activities, Apple Inc. has negative net changes in cash. However, in 2023 financial year, Apple Inc. managed a positive net change.
  5. Quality of Revenue:
    • Net Change in Cash and Cash From Investing Activities:
      • Positive change in cash in 2023 indicates a net inflow of cash.
      • Cash From Investing Activities shows both positive and negative values, reflecting investment decisions.
    • Analysis: The net inflow suggests that cash is generated from business operations and investments, supporting the quality of revenue.
  6. Overall Assessment:
    • While Apple Inc. has reported strong net income figures over the years, the widening gap between net income and operating cash flow in 2022 and 2023 raises concerns about the quality of reported earnings.
    • Stakeholders should carefully scrutinize the reasons behind this divergence and assess whether non-cash items or other factors are artificially inflating reported earnings.
    • Additionally, monitoring cash flow trends and the overall financial health of the company is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of earnings quality and sustainability.


The key to conducting a successful income statement analysis is to systematically evaluate the various components of the statement to gain insights into a company’s financial performance. This involves understanding revenue sources, cost structures, and profitability drivers. Key steps include:

  1. Understand the Basics: Familiarize yourself with the basic components of the income statement, such as revenue, expenses, and net income.
  2. Calculate and Analyze Ratios: Use financial ratios to assess profitability, liquidity, solvency, and efficiency. Ratios provide a quantitative basis for comparing performance.
  3. Look Beyond the Numbers: Consider the qualitative aspects of earnings, including the quality of revenue, sustainability of profit margins, and potential non-recurring items.
  4. Compare Over Time: Conduct trend analysis by comparing income statements over multiple periods. This helps identify patterns, growth trajectories, and potential areas of concern.
  5. Benchmark Against Industry Peers: Compare the company’s ratios and performance metrics with industry averages or competitors to gauge its relative standing. Learn more on industry analysis.
  6. Evaluate Non-GAAP Adjustments: Assess any non-GAAP adjustments made by the company. Understand the rationale behind these adjustments and their impact on reported earnings.
  7. Consider External Factors: Be mindful of external factors, such as economic conditions, industry trends, and regulatory changes, that may influence the company’s financial performance.
  8. Review Management Discussions: Read management discussions and analyses accompanying financial statements to gain insights into the company’s strategic initiatives and future prospects.
  9. Assess Earnings Quality: Evaluate the sustainability and reliability of reported earnings by examining cash flow, provisions, and the transparency of financial disclosures.
  10. Maintain a Comprehensive View: Combine income statement analysis with assessments of other financial statements, such as the balance sheet and cash flow statement, to get a comprehensive view of a company’s financial health.

In conclusion, by employing a systematic and comprehensive approach, analysts can extract meaningful insights from income statements, aiding in informed decision-making and a thorough understanding of a company’s financial performance.