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      A good report is crucial to communicating what you have done and instilling confidence in the reader that you have done a thorough analysis.  A report should be well-organized with a definite path that leads the reader from an introduction to a conclusion.  Outlining your report in advance could aid you in this endeavor.  A typical outline might look something like this:

I.    Introduction

      The purpose of the analysis and report

II.   Background

      A brief summary of the company does and how the business is changing.  (Outlook for increased sales due to more focused marketing efforts, larger customer accounts, etc.)

III.  Analysis

A.    Projected Income Statements

a.    Sales

b.    Cost of goods sold

c.    Administrative expenses

d.    Depreciation expense

e.    Interest expense

f.     Taxes

B.    Projected Balance Sheets

a.    Projected asset requirements to support projected sales

                          i.    Cash

                         ii.    Accounts Receivable

                        iii.    Inventories

                       iv.    Fixed Assets

b.    Financing of asset requirements

                          i.    Accounts Payable

                         ii.    Accruals

                        iii.    Long-term Debt

                       iv.    Retained Earnings (Dividend policy)

                        v.    Additional Financing Required

C.   Statement of Cash Flows (This would show the annual needs versus the cumulative needs indicated on the balance sheets)

D.   Financing Alternatives

a.    Debt

                          i.    Bank restrictions

                         ii.    Total debt availability

                        iii.    Short-term debt availability

            b.   Required equity financing

III.  Conclusions/Recommendations

      Advantages and Disadvantages of financing alternatives.  What you would recommend and why.

      In writing up the report, be as concise as possible.  Remember, the person who is reading the report is a busy person and all “fluff” does is waste their time.  Also, the report should be written so that a non-technical person can get a basic understanding of what you have done.  For example, in describing the projection of accounts receivable, one might write

“Accounts receivables are projected to increase from their current level of $110,800 to $351,435 by 2018 (See Exhibit II).  The tripling of receivable balances over this period, when sales are anticipated to only double in volume, is due to more of our customers demanding more advantageous credit terms.  The result is an expected increase in the average collection period from approximately 32 days to just over 40 days (See Exhibit IV for calculations).”

      You have communicated to the reader what your numerical analysis reveals and why it does so without burdening them with the detail of how it was calculated.  Thus, a non-numbers person can understand what is anticipated to occur in terms of increased asset (receivables) requirements and the cause of the increase.  A more technically-oriented person (such as myself) has been directed to Exhibit II to see the actual balance sheets and to Exhibit IV in order to see how you have derived the average collection periods using ratios, probabilities, or whatever.

      The report itself should only quote key figures from the exhibits such as the beginning and ending accounts receivable balances used in the above example.  (Obviously, in some cases, such as the amount of financing needed, you will want to quote the amount required for each year.)  The bulk of the numbers should otherwise be restricted to exhibits.  Exhibits should be numbered.  In general, an exhibit that is not referred to in the report is not needed for the report and should not be included.  (There can be exceptions to this, but they are relatively rare.)

      The result of a good report is that the reader can understand what you have done without having to look at the exhibits specifically, feel confident in your abilities to analyze the circumstances, and be persuaded into accepting your conclusions.

      I strongly encourage you to proofread your report very carefully.  While some errors will inevitably be missed, you want to minimize them.  The spell-checker and grammar-checker in Word are notoriously bad and cannot tell that the word “in” should have been “is”.  Mistakes in your spelling and grammar cast serious doubt upon the quality of the analysis itself.

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