Research / BFI Working PaperMay 22, 2024

Financial Statement Analysis with Large Language Models

We investigate whether an LLM can successfully perform financial statement analysis in a way similar to a professional human analyst. We provide standardized and anonymous financial statements to GPT4 and instruct the model to analyze them to determine the direction of future earnings. Even without any narrative or industry-specific information, the LLM outperforms financial analysts in its ability to predict earnings changes. The LLM exhibits a relative advantage over human analysts in situations when the analysts tend to struggle. Furthermore, we find that the prediction accuracy of the LLM is on par with the performance of a narrowly trained state-of-the-art ML model. LLM prediction does not stem from its training memory. Instead, we find that the LLM generates useful narrative insights about a company’s future performance. Lastly, our trading strategies based on GPT’s predictions yield a higher Sharpe ratio and alphas than strategies based on other models. Taken together, our results suggest that LLMs may take a central role in decision-making.

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