Research Paper Writing- Finance



The purpose of this project is two-fold:

                        1) to become sufficient in basic Excel functionality, including formulas and formatting

                        2) to analyze the operations of a hospitality company

In addition this project will address the following learning objectives required of this course.

 University Undergraduate Learning Objectives:

-Inquiry and Critical Thinking: Graduates are able to identify problems, articulate questions,  and use various forms of research and reasoning to guide the collection, analysis, and use of  information related to those problems.

-Communication: Graduates are able to write and speak effectively to both general and specialized audiences, create effective visuals that support written or spoken communication, and use electronic media common to one’s field or profession.

Hospitality College Learning Objectives:

-Communicate effectively in written, spoken, visual and digital modes to different audiences  (e.g. industry leaders, employees, employers, faculty and peers).

-Manage all forms of capital (e.g., human, financial) in an ethical and sustainable way.

-Analyze financial, marketing, and operational results and outcomes for hospitality operations.

-Demonstrate effective management techniques in hospitality operations (hotel, F&B, gaming, meetings, events, etc.).

You will prepare the income statement and balance sheet for 2 calendar years (2018-2019), conduct a horizontal and vertical analysis, and calculate ratios of the company you choose.  As a group you will analyze these financials statements and ratios to evaluate your company performance between the 2 years.

This project is intended to integrate the material learned in class and specifically Chapters 2, 3, and 5.  This project will give students an application example that is very common in industry.  This project is typically the first steps hospitality management takes in not only analyzing their financial performance and making adjustments if necessary, but also preparing to conduct their forecast and budgets, which we cover in Chapter 9 and 10 (and which you will do in Project 2).

Submissions are expected to resemble those presented to an upper level manager in a hospitality operation and will give students an opportunity to apply written communication skills.


This project is to be completed using a publicly traded hospitality company’s financial statements (10-Ks).  Each group must choose a different hospitality company.

Vertical and Horizontal Analysis

You are to start by building in Excel the year end 2019 and 2018 Income Statement and Balance Sheet for your hospitality firm based off the company’s 10-K (If there is a 10-KA must use that).  All statements should have account names first than the 2019 numbers in the second column and 2018 in the third column.  No other years will be accepted without prior approval.  If your company does not do a calendar year end (or within 1 month of the year end) you must email me what their year-end is and get approval.

The Income Statement must have subtotals for Total Revenue, Total Operating Expenses, Operating Income, Income Before Taxes, and Net Income at a minimum. You may have more subtotals based on the company’s financial statements but you MUST have these 5 at a minimum.  You must include all subtotals off the 10-K in addition to these stated.  All subtotals must be formulas and not hardcoded numbers.  If you believe your company financials do not have these subtotals you must check with the professor for a variation to this requirement.  Anything turned in without these will be penalized points. If you do not know what a subtotal should include do not ignore it, come to office hours to ask.

Only go to Net Income or Net Loss.  If your company has multiple Net Income/(Loss) lines due to subsidiary companies and such, go all the way to the last one right before earning per share.  Do not include any Earnings Per Share information or additional information below that.

The Balance Sheet must have subtotals and totals for Current Assets, Long-term Assets, Other Assets, Total Assets, Current Liabilities, Long-term Liabilities, Total Liabilities, Total Stockholders’ Equity, and Total Liabilities and Stockholders’ Equity at a minimum. More subtotals may be added based on the company’s financial statements, but you MUST have these 9 even if the company does not show these subtotals.  You must include all subtotals off the 10-K. All subtotals and totals must be formulas and not hardcoded numbers. 

You are to do a horizontal and vertical analysis for each statement.  You are to do all vertical and horizontal analysis possible given that you only have 2 years of data.  Do not do any more years.


Calculate the following ratios for both years:

Current Ratio (coverage ratio)

Working Capital (show to nearest dollar, ie. $10,000)

Debt-to-Equity (coverage ratio)

Asset Turnover (turnover ratio)

Profit Margin (percentage ratio)

Return on Assets (percentage ratio)

Return on Equity (percentage ratio)

Earnings Per Share (Per unit basis – show in dollars and cents, ie. $1.25)

If your company is not publicly traded, you must check with the professor to get an alternative ratio to calculate.  You cannot just ignore this ratio.

Solvency Ratio (coverage ratio)

Number of Times Interest Earned (coverage ratio) – If you company does not have interest expense you must see the professor to validate and be given an alternative ratio to calculate.  If you calculate this and have no interest and did not check you will receive no credit on this ratio.

  1. For any formulas that use Net Income, you must use your company’s bottom Net Income (the last one).  Using a different Net Income line will cause you to get no points.
  1. Some of these ratios may require you to get additional information that is not on the financial statements.  Do not ignore those ratios, make sure to get the additional information.    
  1. All ratios must be linked to the Income Statement and/or Balance Sheet and the only numbers allowed to be hardcoded are those that do not appear on the financial statements.


Based on the horizontal and vertical analysis and the ratios you calculated, as a group select 5 accounts per statement that as management of this company you would want to analyze.  You must select accounts not subtotals or totals.  You should have a write-up on 10 accounts (5 from the Income Statement and 5 from the Balance Sheet).  Each account must answer the following 2 questions (See Criteria section for an example).  You cannot select Accounts Receivable (or an equivalent account) as an account to analyze since the example given below is on that account.

For each account you must provide a short explanation (1-2 sentences) of why you choose to analyze this account.  Your reasoning for account selection should be based on class discussions, what you have learned in class, and the results of your horizontal and vertical analysis or ratio calculations.  Specifically discuss what on the horizontal and vertical analysis or ratios calculations made you choose this account and this includes stating the exact numbers that caused you to select these accounts.  If you choose an account that had minimal change based on your analysis you must support why you choose to look into an account that did not have a big change. 

After discussing why you selected the account you must explain what caused the change in the account.  You must get this information from the 10-K directly and cite the page number you got your information from.  If you cannot find a valid explanation for the change you must select another account (although most accounts have a reason but it may not be explicitly stated).  If you do not understand the change, please see the professor for assistance.  Do not guess.  Make sure you include the correct reason.  For instance if the account went down (like in the example below for accounts receivable) you cannot state that the allowance for doubtful accounts, which is a contra asset account went down.  This account going down would cause Accounts Receivable to go up. Also make sure to address an issue that was a main reason for the change.  For instance, if the account changed $10 million, do not include an explanation for $1 million of the change when there is also information on $4 million of the change.

Team Member Evaluation

If you want (not required though) you may do a team member evaluation and turn it in on the same day you turn your project in.  Just like working in teams in the real world, sometimes certain members of a group do not do their share of work even though everyone gets the same credit.  After reviewing the evaluations if the majority of team members give significantly lower scores and is supported with comments and proof such as unanswered emails, that team member’s score will be lowered and if the member did no work they will receive a “0”.  The evaluations along with all supporting proof should be turned in on the same date and can be turned in during office hours instead of in the classroom. Evaluations turned in with no proof will not be accepted. The instructor may request a meeting with you about your evaluation before adjusting teammates grades.


Due Date

The project is due on Wednesday, October 14, 2020.  Projects received after this date will be penalized 10 points (out of 100) each 24-hour period they are late (beginning at the start of class).  This includes not submitting both parts online by the due date.  You can earn extra credit by turning the project in at the beginning of class or before Wednesday, October 7, 2020.  All projects turned in for extra credit will earn 1% point additional on your final class grade. 

Projects must be submitted online (regular due date and extra credit date).  No projects will be accepted for extra credit after the start of class on the due date, including even one minute late.  Any projects not completed are not eligible for extra credit including not having all pages or parts attached.

It is imperative you turn in professional work and not leave this until the last minute.  I will not accept unprofessional work just as your manager would not.  Unprofessional work is not college level, it’s extremely hard to grade, and the scores are extremely low.  If I determine your work is unprofessional, such as no formatting on the statements, multiple pages per statement, papers not straight or unreadable, etc. you will incur a 15 point penalty and be informed via email that you then have ONLY 24 hours to fix and resubmit. 


All vertical and horizontal analysis and ratios must be completed using Excel. All write-ups must be completed in Word.  Handwritten assignments or portion thereof are unacceptable.

You must have a vertical and horizontal analysis for the Income Statement and Balance Sheet. All statements (4 in total) and ratios should be printed “portrait” style and be on one sheet of paper each.  If you cannot fit them on one sheet of paper you must check with the professor beforehand to get approval for multiple pages or points will be taken off.  To get approval please bring in your copy and a copy of the 10-K statement. (Note: in case of remote learning, you will not need to submit hardcopy).

You must do this in Excel and I will be reviewing all electronic submissions to confirm you did all required formulas in Excel.  Not doing this project in Excel, not submitting this online, or not using the Excel formulas will result in no credit for this part and hence a 60% point penalty on the entire project grade.

On the horizontal and vertical analysis, all dollar figures should be presented exactly like the 10-K and all percentage columns should be shown as percentages with 1 decimal (i.e. 7.2%).  Make sure that your all statements are formatted with dollar signs, commas, borders, underlining, etc. and are presentable.  Also make sure to note what value your company’s dollar values are in, for instance thousands or millions.

On the ratios, dollar figures should be rounded to the nearest dollar or cents depending on ratio, coverage and turnover ratios should be presented to 2 decimals (i.e. 1.12 times or 1.12 to 1), and percentage ratios should be shown as percentages with 2 decimal (i.e. 7.25%).  Make sure that all ratios are formatted correctly and are presentable.  

The write-ups must also be portrait style and must be double spaced in 12-point font. 

You must submit your Excel submission and your Word submission to WebCampus and check your plagiarism score. Both are due before the due date and time online in addition to being turned in in class.

Spelling and grammar count.  Remember you are presenting to upper management and the report should be written with that in mind.  Run spell check in both Excel and Word. It is suggested you see the Writing Center if your writing skills are lacking.  Points will be deducted for papers that are hard to read and if they are too hard to read it will be a “0”.

You must submit hard copies (or word file, if the class is remote) of each part of the project and you must present your work as follows in order to receive credit:

Individual Excel Analyses and Ratios

Cover Page with your name and the name of your company

Income Statement horizontal analysis

Income Statement vertical analysis

Balance Sheet horizontal analysis

Balance Sheet vertical analysis

Ratio calculations

Print out of the Income Statement from the company’s 10-K for all years used

Print out of the Balance Sheet from the company’s 10-K for all years used

Group Write-ups

Cover Page with all students’ names listed, the name of your company, and the originality score your received when you uploaded the write-ups.  The originality score can be handwritten.

Income Statement write-up

Balance Sheet write-up

Print out all pages from the 10-K that you cite in your write-up.  Put them in order of how you cite and highlight the area you cited.  Also make sure each is numbered and in order.

  1. This should be presented as a “unified” group project.  This means that all sheets must be in the same font, format, etc.  Do not just copy and paste each group member’s part into the document and submit without making sure it is consistent in format, tone, wording, etc.  Remember this is a group project so you should not use “I” and instead use “we”.

Staple all of your analysis together.  No binders or paperclips are allowed.

The grading rubric below should be carefully reviewed and followed.

The write-up should be no longer than ¼ page for each account and really only needs to be 2-3 sentences to address the questions sufficiently.  Here is an example of a write-up that would get full credit.

      As management in Boyd Gaming, we choose to look into Accounts Receivable, net.  We choose this account because it decreased $38.33 million and 58.5% from 2013 to 2014.  This account also decreased from 1.1% of total assets in 2013 to 0.6% of total assets in 2014.  This account decreased mainly due to the allowance for doubtful accounts, which lowers the amount of accounts receivable, decreasing $19.8 million due to the company deconsolidating Borgata in Atlantic City on September 30, 2014, which caused Boyd Gaming to no longer record those assets, liabilities, and non-controlling interests in the property (Pg. 65).   This one decrease accounts for over half the change, 51.7%.

You will notice both the vertical and horizontal reasons were given for selecting the account.  That is not required.  You can select based only on 1 of those (or the ratio calculations) if you want, but I wanted to give you both scenarios so you can see how they should be written.

Grading Rubric

This is a high-level guide to make sure the project is completed and follows all the requirements.  This has been added since I have found that most points off are because students do not read all the instructions and make up their own “rules”. This is just a guide, so you don’t miss any minimum requirements.

These items are points that come right off the starting score of 100%:

  Requirement Points off if not followed
Unprofessional work -15 and required to fix within 24 hours
No Cover page missing any required information  Up to -10
Not Turning in on time including turning in on WebCampus  -10 per 24 hours
Project in not in required order as listed in #9 of Requirements -5
Project is not stapled (binders and paperclips not allowed) (if your class is remote, you will submit the project as a file) -5
10-K statements not included (any missing is total points off) -10
Errors in formatting, grammar, spelling, etc. (dollar signs, spelling, presentable, borders, consistency, etc.) Up to -20
Spelling and grammar issues, after first 2 -1 point each error

These are the maximum points for each required part:

  Requirement Points off if not followed
Horizontal and Vertical analysis for each statement – 10 points each 40
Subtotal or totals must be formulas – 2 points off for each that are hardcoded numbers even if the horizontal and vertical analyses are done correctly  
Horizontal or vertical formula are correct – 5 points off each wrong one  
Ratio Calculations – 2 points each calculation (1 each year) 20
Write Up – 4 points per account 40
    Why you selected this account – 2 points What caused the change – 2 points  
Choosing a subtotal instead of an account will have the full points taken off even if you answered all questions  

For Answers Contact us via

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: