Activity, Liquidity, Solvency, Profitability, and Valuation Ratios

Financial ratios are used to express one financial quantity in relation to another and can assist with company and security valuations, as well as with stock selections, and forecasting.

A variety of categories may be used to classify financial ratios. Although the names of these categories and the ratios that are included in each category can vary significantly, common categories that are used include: activity, liquidity, solvency, profitability, and valuation ratios.  Each category measures a different aspect of a company’s business; however, all are useful for evaluating a company’s overall ability to generate cash flows from operating its business.

Activity Ratios

Activity ratios, also known as asset utilization ratios or operating efficiency ratios, measure how efficiently a company performs its daily tasks such as managing its various assets. They generally combine income statement information in the numerator and balance sheet information in the denominator.

The list below provides a description of the most commonly used activity ratios:

  • Inventory turnover

Computation: Cost of goods sold/Average inventory

Interpretation: The ratio can be used to measure the effectiveness of inventory management. A higher inventory turnover ratio implies that inventory is held for a shorter time period.

  • Days of inventory on hand (DOH)

Computation: Number of days in period/Inventory turnover

Interpretation: The ratio can also be used to measure the effectiveness of inventory management. A lower DOH implies that inventory is held for a shorter time period.

  • Receivables turnover

Computation: Revenue/Average receivables

Interpretation: This measures the efficiency of a company’s credit and collection processes. A relatively high receivables turnover ratio may indicate that a company has highly efficient credit and collections, or it could imply that a company’s credit or collection policies are too stringent.

  • Days of sales outstanding (DSO)

Computation: Number of days in period/Receivables turnover

Interpretation: This measures the elapsed time between a sale and cash collection, and reflects how fast a company collects cash from customers to whom it offers credit. A low DSO indicates that a company is efficient in its credit and collection processes.

  • Payables turnover

Computation: Purchases/Average trade payables

Interpretation: This measures how many times per year a company theoretically pays off all its creditors.

  • Number of days of payables

Computation: Number of days in period/Payables turnover

Interpretation: This reflects the average number of days that a company takes to pay its suppliers.

  • Working capital turnover

Computation: Revenue/Average working capital

Interpretation: This indicates how efficiently a company generates revenue with its working capital. A high working capital turnover ratio indicates greater efficiency.

  • Fixed asset turnover

Computation: Revenue/Average net fixed assets

Interpretation: This measures how efficiently a company generates revenues from its investments in fixed assets. A higher fixed asset turnover ratio indicates a more efficient use of fixed assets in generating revenue.

  • Total asset turnover

Computation: Revenue/Average total assets

Interpretation: This measures a company’s overall ability to generate revenues with a given level of assets. A low asset turnover ratio can be indicative of inefficiency or of the relative capital intensity of the company.

Liquidity Ratios

Liquidity ratios measure a company’s ability to satisfy its short-term obligations. The list below provides a description of the most commonly used liquidity ratios. These ratios reflect a company’s position at a point in time and, therefore, usually uses ending balance sheet data rather than averages.

  • Current ratio

Computation: Current assets/Current liabilities

Interpretation: A higher current ratio indicates a higher level of liquidity or ability to meet short-term obligations.

  • Quick ratio

Computation: (Cash + Short-term marketable investments + Receivables)/Current liabilities

Interpretation: A higher quick ratio indicates a higher level of liquidity or ability to meet short-term obligations. It is a better indicator of liquidity than the current ratio in instances where inventory is illiquid.

  • Cash ratio

Computation: (Cash + Short-term marketable investments)/Current liabilities

Interpretation: The ratio is a reliable measure of liquidity in a crisis situation.

  • Defensive interval ratio

Computation: (Cash + Short-term marketable investments + Receivables)/Daily cash expenditures

Interpretation: This measures how long a company can pay its daily expenditures using only its existing liquid assets, without any additional cash inflow.

  • Other ratios

In addition to the above ratios, the cash conversion cycle is an additional liquidity measure that can be used. Computed as DOH + DSO – Number of days of payables, it measures the length of time that is required for a company to go from cash paid (used in operations) to cash received (as a result of operations).

Solvency Ratios

Solvency ratios measure a company’s ability to satisfy its long-term obligations. They provide information relating to the relative amount of debt in a company’s capital structure and the adequacy of earnings and cash flow to cover interest expenses and other fixed charges as they fall due.

There are two types of solvency ratios: (i) debt ratios, which focus on the balance sheet and measure the amount of debt capital relative to equity capital, and (ii) coverage ratios, which focus on the income statement and measure the ability of a company to cover its debt payments. Both sets of ratios are useful in assessing a company’s solvency and evaluating the quality of its bonds and other debt obligations.

The list below provides a list and description of the most commonly used solvency ratios:

  • Debt-to-assets ratio

Computation: Total debt/Total assets

Interpretation: This measures the percentage of a company’s total asssets that are financed with debt. A higher ratio implies higher financial risk and weaker solvency.

  • Debt-to-capital ratio

Computation: Total debt/(Total debt + Total shareholders’ equity)

Interpretation: This measures the percentage of a company’s capital (debt + equity) that is represented by debt. A higher ratio implies higher financial risk and weaker solvency.

  • Debt-to-equity ratio

Computation: Total debt/Total shareholders’ equity

Interpretation: This measures the amount of debt capital relative to equity capital. A higher ratio implies higher financial risk and weaker solvency.

  • Financial leverage ratio

Computation: Average total assets/Average total equity

Interpretation: This measures the amount of total assets that is supported for each one money unit of equity. The higher the ratio, the more leveraged the company in its use of debt and other liabilities to finance assets.

  • Interest coverage ratio

Computation: EBIT/Interest payments

Interpretation: This measures the number of times that a company’s EBIT could cover its interest payments. A higher ratio indicates stronger solvency.

  • Fixed charge coverage ratio

Computation: (EBIT + Lease payments)/(Interest payments + Lease payments)

Interpretation: This measures the number of times a company’s earnings (before interest, taxes, and lease payments) can cover its interest and lease payments. A higher ratio indicates stronger solvency.

Profitability Ratios

Profitability ratios measure a company’s ability to generate profits from its resources (assets). There are two types of profitability ratios: (i) Return-on-sales profitability ratios, which express various subtotals on the income statement as a percentage of revenue, and(ii) Return-on-investment profitability ratios, which measure income relative to the assets, equity, or total capital employed by a company.

The list below provides a description of the most commonly used solvency ratios:

  • Gross profit margin

Computation: Gross profit/Revenue

Interpretation: This indicates the percentage of revenue that is available to cover operating and other expenses and to generate profit. A higher gross profit margin indicates a combination of higher product pricing and lower product costs.

  • Operating profit margin

Computation: Operating income/Revenue

Interpretation: An operating profit margin that increases faster than the gross profit margin can indicate improvements in controlling operating costs, such as administrative overheads.

  • Pretax margin

Computation: EBT (earnings before tax but after interest)/Revenue

Interpretation: This reflects the effect on profitability of leverage and other non-operating income and expenses.

  • Net profit margin

Computation: Net income/Revenue

Interpretation: This measures how much of each dollar collected as revenue translates into profit.

  • Operating ROA

Computation: Operating income/Average total assets

Interpretation: This measures the return (prior to deducting interest on debt capital) that is earned by a company on its assets.

  • Return on Assets (ROA)

Computation: Net income/Average total assets

Interpretation: This measures the return earned by a company on its assets.

  • Return on total capital

Computation: EBIT/Short- and long-term debt and equity

Interpretation: This measures the profits that a company earns on all of the capital that it employs.

  • Return on Equity (ROE)

Computation: Net income/Average total equity

Interpretation: This measures the return earned by a company on its equity capital, including minority equity, preferred equity, and common equity.

  • Return on common equity

Computation: (Net income – Preferred dividends)/Average common equity

Interpretation: This measures the return earned by a company only on its common equity.

Valuation Ratios

Valuation ratios measure the quantity of an asset or flow that is associated with the ownership of a specified claim.

The list below provides a list and description of the most commonly used valuation ratios:

  • Price to earnings or P/E ratio

Computation: Price per share/Earnings per share

Interpretation: This tells how much an investor in common stock pays per dollar of earnings.

  • Price to cash flow or P/CF ratio

Computation: Price per share/Cash flow per share

Interpretation: This measures a company’s market value relative to its cash flow.

  • Price to sales or P/S ratio

Computation: Price per share/Sales per share

Interpretation: This compares a company’s stock price to its revenue and is sometimes used as a comparative price metric when a company does not have positive net income.

  • Price to book value or P/BV ratio

Computation: Price per share/Book value per share

Interpretation: This compares a stock’s market value to its book value and is often used as an indicator of market judgment about the relationship between a company’s required rate of return and its actual rate of return. A higher ratio implies that investors expect management to create more value from a given set of assets, all else equal.

Question 1

Using the following information on company ABC, what is company ABC’s net profit margin?

December 31, 2016 (audited)$

Revenue: 5,276,987

Gross profit: 3,534,099

Net income: 2,956,123

A. 10.95%

B. 66.97%

C. 56.02%

Solution

The correct answer is C.

Net profit margin = Net income/Revenue = $2,956,123/$5,276,987= 56.02%

Question 2

Which of the following categories of ratios could be used to evaluate a company’s ability to pay back a bank loan?

A. Liquidity ratios

B. Solvency ratios

C. Profitability ratios

Solution

The correct answer is B.

Solvency ratios measure a company’s ability to meet long-term obligations such as bank loans and bond obligations.

Option A is incorrect. Liquidity ratios measure a company’s ability to satisfy its short-term obligations.

Option C is incorrect. Profitability ratios measure a company’s ability to generate profits from its resources (assets).

Reading 24 LOS 24b:

Classify, calculate, and interpret activity, liquidity, solvency, profitability, and valuation ratios


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