Definition of Last Fiscal Year (LFY)
The term "last fiscal year" or "LFY" refers to the most recent 12-month accounting period that a business uses when determining its annual financial performance. A business gets to determine its fiscal year — it may not be the same as a calendar year. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires businesses to list their last fiscal year's revenue, in addition to other financial figures measured on a fiscal year basis, in their 10-Q filings.
Analysts and management will often use figures and metrics from a company's last fiscal year in order to forecast whether or not a business's current performance will outdo that of the previous fiscal year.
Understanding Last Fiscal Year (LFY)
For example, ABC Corporation's fiscal year starts and ends in February, and it is currently July. If it were to list its revenue from the last fiscal year, it would show the results that took place from February 1st of the previous year to January 31st of the current year.
However, the inclusion of one-time financial anomalies in the last fiscal year's results may cause an ineffective comparison, as one-time non-operating events could skew a company's metrics.
For example, ABC Corporation sold a factory for $1 million and it reported the cash as revenue in the last fiscal year's financial statements. Unless it is specified that the extra million dollars were not from its regular operations, individuals may mistakenly believe that ABC Corp.'s operations generated an extra million dollars.