As much as we like to pore over the details of one company at time around here, we know that sometimes Calcbench users need compare the financial metrics of a group of companies at a glance. We can do that too, and since everyone likes to scrutinize every detail of the banking sector, we’ll use 10 large U.S. banks as an example.

First you visit our Multi-Company page. That’s where you can build a peer group of companies to examine or select from some standard groups we already offer, such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Industrials. You start by hitting the ‘Choose Company’ button on the upper left corner of your screen, and that takes you to our peer group builder (Figure 1 below):

We’re going to build our own peer group, which is a breeze: go to the ‘Current Peer Group’ column on the right-hand side, and start entering company names or ticker symbols. If you squint at the image above, you can see the 10 banks we selected. For the record, they are:

  • Bank of America
  • Bank of New York
  • Capital One
  • Citigroup
  • Goldman Sachs
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Morgan Stanley
  • PNC Financial
  • US Bancorp
  • Wells Fargo

Once you select your peer group, Calcbench automatically returns a list of those companies with some basic metrics (revenue, operating income) for the most recent full calendar year’s results. If you want results for a different period, you can change that default using the Select Calendar Year & Period button on the top left. (Circled below in red, Figure 2.) For our experiment, we set the period to first quarter of 2016.

The single metric by which banks live and die is return on equity—which Calcbench can capture and present immediately. To do that, go to the Explore Normalized Metrics button on the left side of the screen (circled above in blue), and then tab your way to Ratios, and the Profitability choices we offer you after that. The ROE metric is near the bottom. Select it, and you see the return on equity appear as another column of results along with all the other metrics.

In our example, you can see that ROE ranged from 11.77 percent (US Bancorp) to 4.13 percent (Bank of America). If you want to see the numbers behind any specific bank’s ROE, just click on that percentage and our ‘trace’ option appears. Click on that, and a small box rolls across the screen to show the underlying math.

But wait, you say—I don’t need a list of numbers, I need a handy chart to drop into a PowerPoint presentation for the boss! No worries, Calcbench has you covered there too.

Simply move your mouse over the ROE heading in the results. A menu appears with a series of choices to add data from prior periods or compare one column’s data against another—and to get a chart of year-over-year results. We chose that one, to see how the banks’ ROE for first-quarter 2016 compared to 2015. The result is Figure 3, below.

You can see that six of our 10 banks had a decline in ROE from the year prior period (2015 ROE is in gold, 2016 in blue). Each column also states the percentage change from one year to the next.

Once you learn those basics, you can go from idea percolating in your head to specific data, complete with PPT chart to impress the boss, in less than 90 seconds.

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