Business Finance Online

Financial Forecasting

Financial Forecasting describes the process by which firms think about and prepare for the future. The forecasting process provides the means for a firm to express its goals and priorities and to ensure that they are internally consistent. It also assists the firm in identifying the asset requirements and needs for external financing.

For example, the principal driver of the forecasting process is generally the sales forecast. Since most Balance Sheet and Income Statement accounts are related to sales, the forecasting process can help the firm assess the increase in Current and Fixed Assets which will be needed to support the forecasted sales level. Similarly, the external financing which will be needed to pay for the forecasted increase in assets can be determined.

Firms also have goals related to Capital Structure (the mix of debt and equity used to finance the firms assets), Dividend Policy, and Working Capital Management. Therefore, the forecasting process allows the firm to determine if its forecasted sales growth rate is consistent with its desired Capital Structure and Dividend Policy.

The forecasting approach presented in this section is the Percentage of Sales method. It forecasts the Balance Sheet and Income Statement by assuming that most accounts maintain a fixed proportion of Sales. This approach, although fairly simple, illustrates many of the issues related to forecasting and can readily be extended to allow for a more flexible technique, such as forecasting items on an individual basis.


Tools and Problems


© 2002 - 2010 by Mark A. Lane, Ph.D.