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:

$550,000/$100,000=5.5

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

ROA/ROI=400,000/3,500,000

ROA/ROI=0.11

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

 

Average Collection Period

The average collection period is one of the activity ratios which measures the relationship between accounts receivable and average credit sales per day. Activity ratios help businesses to measure how efficiently various accounts are converted into sales or cash. Other activity ratios include average payment period, total asset turnover and inventory turnover analysis.

It calculates how efficiently accounts receivable are collected. It indicates the quality of debtors of the business (how promptly debtors pay their bills as they come due). It is also referred to as the average age of accounts receivable, debtors collection period ratio or a collection ratio.

The formula to calculate the average collection period ratio is as follows:

Average Collection Period = Accounts receivable/Average sales per day

The figure for accounts receivable is obtained from the balance sheet and the figure for sales is obtained from the income statement. Sales must be further adjusted to credit sales, by excluding cash sales. Further, credit sales must be divided by the number of days per year to finally obtain average sales per day (average credit sales per day).

Average sales per day = Credit sales/365

Example calculation


Assume Heroic Company has accounts receivable of $750,000 and credit sales of $4,050,000. Heroic Company has credit terms of 30 days. Assume 365 days year.

The average collection period of Heroic Company is calculated as follows:

Average sales per day = Credit sales/365

= $4,050,000/365

= $11,095.89

Average collection period = $750,000/$11,095.89=67.6 days = 68 days.

It takes on average 68 days to collect the accounts receivable. However, the credit terms of Heroic Company is 30 days. This means that company’s customers have 30 days to settle their accounts.

In light of this information, it is evident that collection of accounts receivable and/or process of granting the credit to customers is inadequately managed. The performance and processes of credit and collection departments should be investigated to draw further conclusions.

Things to note about this ratio


Results are only relevant when compared to a company’s credit terms.

The average collection period ratio therefore allows business to gain a better understanding of the cash inflows to be anticipated. Understanding of cash inflows are vital for successful operation of the business.

It also allows to identify trends in the collection of the accounts receivable. This can bring to management’s attention important variables that must be investigated to ensure successful operation of the business. For example, if the average collection period of the business increased from 30 to 68 days over 1 year, a further investigation will be required to understand such a large increase in this ratio.

Furthermore, to obtain a better understanding, one should compare the average collection period ratio to industry averages, to the ratio of leading firms in the industry and to the firms own historical results.

 

Total Asset Turnover

Total asset turnover is one of the activity ratios indicating the relationship between assets and sales (revenue). Activity ratios help businesses to measure how efficiently various accounts are converted into sales or cash. Other activity ratios include average payment period, average collection period and inventory turnover analysis.

It calculates how efficiently assets are used to produce sales or revenue. In other words, how efficiently the balance sheet is managed. It shows how many dollars of revenue is earned per each dollar of assets. It is also referred to as asset turnover or asset turnover ratio.

The formula to calculate the ratio is as follows:

= Sales(Revenue)/Total assets

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

Example of total asset turnover ratio analysis


Assume Heroic Company has sales of $750,000 and total assets of $880,000. The total asset turnover of Heroic Company is calculated as follows:

$750,000 /$880,000=0.85 or 0.9

This indicates that Heroic Company turns over its assets 0.85 (0.9) times per year.

Things to note about total asset turnover ratio


Usually the higher the asset turnover number the more efficiently assets of the business are utilized.

Further, to obtain a better understanding, one should compare the ratio of individual firms to industry averages, to that of leading firms in the industry and to historical results.