Financial Position Statement Format (Balance Sheet)

As we mentioned earlier, a balance sheet (financial position statement) is one of the most important financial statements. Other important financial statements include the income statement, cash flow statement and statement of changes in equity. A balance sheet (financial position statement) outlines the financial position of the company at a given point in time. It is often called a “snapshot” of the company’s financial position.

Below we present the general format of the balance sheet (financial position statement). We also explain the items in the balance sheet.

General balance sheet format


(1) ASSETS

(1.1) Current assets comprise:

Cash

+

Marketable securities

+

Accounts receivable

+

Inventories

=

Total current assets

(1.2) Non-current assets (fixed assets) comprise

Land and buildings

+

Machinery and equipment

+

Vehicles

+

Fixtures and Furniture

+

Other (for example financial leases)

=

Total gross fixed assets

Less: Accumulated depreciation

=

Net fixed assets

+

Other assets (investments, goodwill, copyrights and patents)

=

TOTAL ASSETS

(2) LIABILITIES AND (3) EQUITY

Liabilities comprise current and non-current liabilities:

(2.1) Current liabilities:

Accrued expenses

+

Accounts payable

+

Short-term notes (notes payable)

=

Total current liabilities

(2.2) Non-current liabilities

Mortgage

+

Other long-term debt

=

Total Non-current liabilities

(3) Equity comprises:

Common stock

+

Paid-in capital in excess of par on common stock

+

Preferred stock

+

Retained earnings

=

TOTAL EQUITY

=

TOTAL LIABILITIES AND EQUITY

Assets


CURRENT ASSETS

Current assets are listed first in the balance sheet (financial position statement). Current assets are those that can be converted into cash within 12 months. The main reason why small businesses often experience financial trouble is inefficient management of current assets. That is, they run out of cash. This can happen for such reasons as having insufficient cash on hand or underestimating the amount of time it takes to liquidate assets to create cash.

Marketable securities, also often called “near cash”, are liquid securities such as US Treasury bills.

Accounts payable refer to money that has not yet been received from the firm’s debtors. Debtors are the firm’s customers who bought from the firm on credit and still need to pay for a product or service provided.

Inventories refer to the raw materials, products in the process of production and completed products ready for sale. Basically, inventory is the physical products the business intends to sell.

In the balance sheet (financial position statement), the most liquid assets are usually listed before less liquid assets. That is why we also listed current assets in terms of decreasing liquidity: cash, marketable securities, accounts receivable and inventories.

NON-CURRENT ASSETS OR FIXED ASSETS

After current assets are listed, we can list non-current assets in the balance sheet. Non-current assets or fixed assets refer to assets that cannot be converted into cash within a 12 months period. The majority of fixed assets are depreciable. It means that the cost of the asset is allocated over its useful life and deducted as expenses on the income statement. This decreases the amount of tax the firm has to pay.

On the balance sheet we need to show the net fixed assets, which refer to the gross fixed assets (assets before depreciation is taken into account) less accumulated depreciation (depreciation deducted over the useful life of the asset, up to this point). The net fixed assets of the firm is also referred to as the book value.

OTHER ASSETS

Other assets show assets on the balance sheet that do not fit under the first two categories and include such assets as goodwill, copyrights and patents. For some companies this can contribute a sizable portion, if not the majority, of their value.

Liabilities and equity


The second part of the balance sheet presents how the business was financed. It basically shows from which sources assets were financed. The two main sources of financing are debt and equity.

CURRENT LIABILITIES

We start the second part of the balance sheet with current liabilities. Current liabilities include accrued expenses, accounts payable and short-term notes.

Accrued expenses are expenses which the company is obligated to pay within 12 months and includes such items as salaries and wages.

Accounts payable refer to payments that company is still obligated to make within 12 months to the creditors which supplied their product on credit to the company.

Short-term notes refer to the money that must be repaid to the lenders within 12 months.

LONG-TERM LIABILITIES

The next step in compiling the balance sheet requires us to list long-term liabilities. Long-term liabilities refer to debt payment which is due in a period longer than 12 months.

EQUITY

The last step in compiling the balance sheet requires us to illustrate the equity position of the firm. Equity indicates the claims of firm’s owners on the firm.

Items “common stock” and “paid-in capital in excess of par on common stock” indicate the amount paid by common stock shareholders for their shares of common stock.

Preferred stock shows the amount of money received from issuing preferred stock.

Retained earning show the earnings of the firm which were not distributed in the form of dividends to the shareholders.

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Acid-Test Ratio

The acid-test ratio, along with the current ratio analysis, measures liquidity. Liquidity refers to the ability of the firm to meet its short-term obligations (obligations over the next 12 months) with its current assets (excluding inventory). In other words, the ratio allows us to determine the ease with which business can pay its bills as they come due. It is also sometimes referred to as the quick ratio.

A declining ratio is an indicator of declining liquidity, which usually serves as a warning of potential financial difficulties for the business. Such financial difficulties may even result in bankruptcy. The risk of bankruptcy increases further if the ratio falls significantly below 1. A ratio below 1 indicates a situation whereby current assets (excluding inventory) can no longer cover current liabilities.

The formula for the ratio is as follows:

Acid-test ratio = (Current assets – Inventory)/Current liabilities

Example of an acid-test ratio analysis


Assume Dynasties Inc. has current assets of $550,000, inventory of $300,000 and current liabilities of $300,000. The acid-test ratio of the of Dynasties Inc. is calculated as follows:

$550,000-$300,000/$300,000=0.8

This could indicate a ratio which may be too low. However, acceptable ratio values vary between industries. Therefore, the result must always be used in context via a comparison to industry averages as well as in comparison to the ratio of leading firms in the industry and Dynasties own historical ratio analysis.

Things to note about this ratio


A positive ratio is a must. A ratio of 1 or greater is generally advisable. If a company has a ratio of 1, it means that it has current assets (excluding inventory) which would be able to cover current liabilities once.

An acid-test ratio is similar to the current ratio. However, it differs from the current ratio because the former excludes inventory when calculating current assets. Inventory is excluded as it is seen as the least liquid form of current assets. Therefore, it is assumed the acid-test ratio shows a better representation of a firm’s liquidity for businesses which experience slow conversion of inventory into cash.

It is also important to note the acid-test ratio analysis ignores the timing of how quickly current assets can be converted into cash and how soon current liabilities come due. For example, imagine a situation where the business as an healthy acid-test ratio. However, most of its current assets are in accounts receivable, which can only be converted into cash in 4 months time and most of its current liabilities are due within next 30 days. In such a situation, despite a healthy acid-test ratio, a business’s liquidity may be unsatisfactory to meet short-term commitments of the business.

Lastly, as per the above, one should compare the ratios of individual firms to industry averages to obtain a better understanding. There is a large variability of ratio values between industries. This is because different industries have different operating requirements.

Current Ratio Analysis

Current ratio analysis, along with the acid-test ratio, measures liquidity. Liquidity refers to the ability of the firm to meet its short-term obligations (obligations over the next 12 months) with its current assets (such as cash, marketable securities and inventory). In other words, current ratio analysis allows us to determine the ease with which business can pay its bills as they come due.

A declining current ratio is an indicator of declining liquidity, which usually serves as a warning of potential financial difficulties for the business. Such financial difficulties may even result in bankruptcy. The risk of bankruptcy especially increases if the current ratio falls below 1 (a point at which current assets can no longer cover current liabilities). Current ratio analyses is also sometimes referred to as working capital ratio, real ratio, cash ratio, liquidity ratio and cash asset ratio.

The formula for current ratio analyses is as follows:

Current ratio = Current assets/Current liabilities

Example of current ratio analysis

Assume Dynasties Inc. has current assets of $550,000 and current liabilities of $300,000. The current ratio of the of Dynasties Inc. is calculated as follows:

$550,000/$300,000 = 1.8

Current ratio analyses of the Dynasties Inc. could indicate that the ratio may be too low. However, an acceptable current ratio value varies between industries. Therefore, the result must always be assessed in the context of industry averages as well as to current ratios of leading firms in the industry and the Dynasties own historical current ratio analysis.

Things to note about current ratio analysis

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

Current ratio analyses is similar to the acid test ratio. However, an acid-test ratio differs from current ratio because an acid-test ratio excludes inventory in calculating current assets. Inventory is excluded as it is seen as the least liquid form of current assets. Acid-test ratio shows a better representation of firm’s liquidity for businesses which experience slow conversion of inventories into cash.

It is also important to note that current ratio analyses ignores the timing of how quickly current assets can be converted into cash and how soon current liabilities come due. For example, imagine a situation where the business has a healthy current ratio. However, most of its current assets are in inventory which can only be converted into cash in 2 months time and most of its current liabilities are due within next 30 days. In such a situation, despite a healthy current ratio, a business’s liquidity may be unsatisfactory to meet the short-term commitments of the business.

Lastly, as per above, one should always compare the current ratio analyses of individual firms to industry averages, to obtain a better understanding. There is a large variability of current ratio industry averages between industries. This is because different industries have different operations requirements.