Definition of 'Cross-Sectional Analysis'
A type of analysis an investor, analyst or portfolio manager may conduct on a company in relation to that company's industry or industry peers. The analysis compares one company against the industry it operates within, or directly against certain competitors within the same industry, in an attempt to discover the best of the breed.
Investopedia explains 'Cross-Sectional Analysis'
When conducting a cross-sectional analysis, the analyst seeks to identify, by using comparative metrics, the valuation, debt-load, future outlook and/or operational efficiency of the target company. This allows the analyst to evaluate the target company's efficiency in these areas, and to make the best investment choice among a group of competitors or the industry as a whole.
When comparing the target firm to competitors, the analyst must be careful to consider the unique operating characteristics of each company and how that will affect any comparative metrics used.