Overview of financial ratios

Liquidity ratios

Current ratios measure liquidity, which refers to the ability of the firm to meet its short-term debt obligations. The formula for current ratio is as follows:

Current ratio=Current assets/Current liabilities

A positive current ratio is a must. A current ratio of at least two is generally advisable. If a company has current ratio of two, it means that it has current assets which would be able to cover current liabilities twice.

Activity ratios

Total asset turnover calculates how efficiently assets are used to generate sales. In other words, how efficiently the balance sheet is managed.

Total asset turnover=Sales/Total assets

The health of this ratio is an important factor which contributes to a healthy return on investment (ROI/ROA).

Inventory turnover ratio measures the liquidity of a firm’s inventory. It measures how many times the company turns over (sells, uses or replaces) its inventory during a period, such as the financial period.

It is calculated by dividing cost of goods sold by inventory.

Inventory turnover ratio = Cost of goods sold/Inventory

The result of this ratio is only meaningful in comparison. It can be compared to industry averages, to firms past inventory turnover ratios and to inventory turnover ratios of competitors.

Industry averages differ significantly between industries for inventory turnover ratio. Inventory turnover is positive (higher than zero) as long as firm has any inventory. Generally high inventory turnover is considered to be a good indicator.

However, the norm would differ significantly between industries. If industry turnover is too high compared to the norm within the industry, it may mean the company keeps too little inventory and, therefore, may lose some sales.

Debt ratios

Debt ratio measures how many of firm’s assets are financed by debt. The formula for debt ratio is as follows:

Debt ratio=Total liabilities/Total assets

For example, assume that ABC’s total liabilities are $1,700,000 and total assets are $4,000,000. The debt ratio of ABC is as follows: $1,700,000/$4,000,000=42.5%

This means that ABC’s capital structure is 42.5% of debt and 57.5% of equity.

Debt-equity ratio measures how much of equity and how much of debt a company uses to finance its assets.

Debt-equity ratio = Total debt / Equity

If the debt-equity ratio is less than one, then it means that equity is mainly used to finance operations. However, if the debt-equity ratio is more than one, then it means that debt is mostly used for financing. If the debt-equity ratio is equal to one, then it means that half of financing comes from debt and half from equity.

The more debt compared to equity the firm uses in financing its assets, the higher the financial risk and the higher potential return. Financial risk refers to risk of firm being forced into bankruptcy if the firm does not meet its debt obligations as they come due.

Times Interest Earned Ratio (Interest Coverage Ratio)

Times Interest Earned Ratio (Interest Coverage Ratio) measures the ability of the enterprise to meet its financial obligations (interest payments on debt that come due). The formula for the Times Interest Earned Ratiois as follows:

TIER=EBIT/interest charges

EBIT refers to earnings before interest and taxes, which is also called operating profit (refer to Income Statement format to see how it is calculated).

For example, assume that ABC has an operating profit of $550,000 and interest charges of $100,000. The TIER of ABC is as follows:


One should also compare ratios of individual firms to industry averages, to obtain a better understanding. It is generally advisable that TIER should be between 3 and 5.

ABC’s TIER could be too high. It may be possible that the firm is unnecessarily careful in using debt as a source of capital. This means the risk the firm takes is lower than average, but so is the return.

Profitability ratios

Operating profit margin measures how much of each sales dollar remains after all costs except for interest, tax and preferred dividends are deducted.In other words it measures how efficient the business manages its operations or how efficiently the firm manages its income statement (keeping a healthy balance between sales and costs).

Operating profit margin = Operating profit/Sales

For example, if ABC has a operating profit of $500,000 and sales of $3,000,000 then the operating profit margin is calculated as follows

Operating profit margin = $500,000/$3,000,000

Operating profit margin = 0.167 or 16.7%

The higher the operating profit margin, the better it is.

Return on total assets (ROA) is also called return on investment (ROI). It refers to how effective management is in generating returns on assets of the firm.

ROA/ROI=Earnings available for common stockholders/Total assets

For example, if ABC’s total assets are $3,500,000 and the earnings available for common stockholders is $400,000 than



This means that for every dollar of assets, ABC earned 11 cents. The more the firm earns on every dollar of assets the better.



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