Financial Ratio Analysis: Definition, Types, Examples, and How to Use
Have you ever tried to understand the financial health of a company? Whether you're an investor, a business owner, or simply curious, financial ratio analysis can be a powerful tool for understanding a company's performance. But let's face it; financial ratio analysis can be intimidating. This article will cover everything you need to know about financial ratio analysis.
What is Financial Ratio Analysis?
It is nothing but a quantitative observation and study into the profitability, liquidity, and operational efficiency of a company, which is done by gaining insight into its financial statements, including the balance sheet and income statement. As a result, it allows you to make informed decisions, predict future trends, and compare companies within the same industry.
Types of Financial Ratios
Financial ratios are mainly divided into four types: liquidity ratios, solvency ratios, profitability ratios, and efficiency ratios. These ratios are used to assess different aspects of a company's financial performance and help us gain a deeper understanding of how the company is operating. Making informed decisions is easier when you understand these different types of financial ratios. Let us discuss each in brief:
An organization's liquidity ratio measures its ability to meet its short-term obligations. In other words, these ratios show us whether a company has enough cash and other assets to be converted into cash to pay off its debts quickly.
The current and quick ratios are the two most common liquidity ratios. Using the current ratio, companies can determine if their current liabilities can be met with their current assets. In contrast, the quick ratio measures a company's ability to pay off its current liabilities with its most liquid assets.
Simply put, liquidity ratios are like checking your bank account balance to see if you have enough money to pay your bills on time.
On the other hand, solvency ratios are used to determine a company's long-term viability. In other words, they show us whether a company has enough assets to cover its long-term debts.
The two most common solvency ratios are debt-to-equity and interest coverage ratios. The debt-to-equity ratio measures a company's debt compared to its equity. In contrast, the interest coverage ratio measures a company's ability to pay off its interest expenses.
Simply put, solvency ratios are like checking your credit score to see if you can qualify for a loan.
The profitability ratio measures a company's ability to generate profits. In other words, they show us whether a company is making money.
The two most common profitability ratios are the gross and net profit margins. The gross profit margin measures a company's profit after deducting its cost of goods sold. The net profit margin, on the other hand, measures a company's profit after expenses are deducted. Profit ratios are like checking your paycheck to see how much money you make.
An efficiency ratio measures how well a company generates revenue from its assets. In other words, they show us how efficiently a company is operating.
The two most common efficiency ratios are the inventory turnover ratio and the accounts receivable turnover ratio. The inventory turnover ratio measures how often a company's inventory is sold and replaced within a certain period. In contrast, the accounts receivable turnover ratio measures how quickly a company collects payment from its customers.
In simpler terms, efficiency ratios are like checking how much you can get done in a day at work.
Examples of Financial Ratio Analysis
To better understand how financial ratio analysis can be applied in the real world, let's look at two examples of companies and how their financial ratios can provide insights into their performance.
Example 1: XYZ Corporation
Suppose XYZ Corporation is a large retailer with a chain of stores nationwide. Let's take a look at their financial ratios (example/ sample data set):
What do these ratios tell us about XYZ Corporation?
The current and quick ratios show that XYZ Corporation has a decent amount of assets to cover its short-term liabilities, but it may need help to pay off its debts in the long term. The debt-to-equity ratio confirms that XYZ Corporation has more debt than equity.
The interest coverage ratio, however, indicates that XYZ Corporation can comfortably pay off its interest expenses. The gross margin of 35% suggests that XYZ Corporation is doing well in generating profits from its sales. The net profit margin of 5% may seem low, but it's quite good for a large retailer.
The inventory turnover ratio of 7 times tells us that XYZ Corporation is selling its inventory relatively quickly, which is good. However, the accounts receivable turnover ratio of 9 times suggests that XYZ Corporation may take too long to collect payment from its customers.
These ratios indicate that XYZ Corporation is doing well in generating profits but may need to focus on reducing its debt and improving its accounts receivable turnover ratio.
Example 2: ABC Corporation
Suppose ABC Corporation is a small manufacturing company that specializes in producing electronic components. Let's take a look at their sample financial ratios:
What do these ratios tell us about ABC Corporation?
The current and quick ratios indicate that ABC Corporation has many assets to cover its short-term liabilities. The debt-to-equity ratio of 0.6 reflects that ABC Corporation has more equity than its debts, which is a good sign.
The interest coverage ratio of 10 indicates that ABC Corporation can comfortably pay off its interest expenses. The gross profit margin of 25% suggests that ABC Corporation is doing well in generating profits from its sales. The net profit margin of 8% is quite good for a small manufacturing company.
The inventory turnover ratio of 5 times tells us that ABC Corporation should be selling its inventory more quickly than it is, while the accounts receivable turnover ratio of 4 times suggests that ABC Corporation is taking a relatively long time to collect payment from its customers.
Overall, these ratios indicate that ABC Corporation is doing well in generating profits but may need to focus on improving its inventory and accounts receivable turnover ratios.
How to use Financial Ratio Analysis?
Financial ratio analysis can be a powerful tool for understanding a company's financial health and performance. Here are the steps to follow when utilizing financial ratio analysis:
Step 1: Identify the Objective
Before beginning any analysis, it's important to identify the objective. What questions are you trying to get answered? Are you trying to determine whether a company is a good investment opportunity? Are you trying to evaluate a company's financial health before extending credit? Knowing your objective will help you determine which financial ratios to focus on and what analysis to perform.
Step 2: Gather Financial Data
The next step is to gather financial data for the company you want to analyze. This data can be found in the company's financial statements, which include the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. You can also find financial data in the company's annual report or through financial databases such as Bloomberg or Yahoo Finance.
Step 3: Calculate Financial Ratios
Once you have the financial data, it's time to calculate the financial ratios. There are many different financial ratios to choose from, depending on your objective and the industry in which the company operates. Common financial ratios include liquidity ratios (such as the current ratio and quick ratio), profitability ratios (such as the gross profit margin and net profit margin), and efficiency ratios (such as inventory turnover and accounts receivable turnover).
Step 4: Analyze the Financial Ratios
After calculating the financial ratios, it's time to analyze them. This involves comparing the ratios to industry benchmarks, historical data, and company goals and objectives. It's important to look at the ratios in context and not rely on a single ratio to judge the company's financial health. For example, a low current ratio is not a problem if the company has a strong history of paying its bills on time.
Step 5: Draw Conclusions and Make Recommendations
Finally, after analyzing the financial ratios, it's time to draw conclusions and make recommendations. This may involve making investment decisions, extending credit, or recommending company management changes. It's important to communicate your findings and recommendations clearly and in a way that others can easily understand, especially if you are presenting your analysis to others who may not have a financial background.
Limitations of Financial Ratio Analysis
While financial ratio analysis is a valuable tool for evaluating a company's financial health, it's important to recognize its limitations.
Here are some of the limitations to keep in mind:
The Bottom Line
While financial ratios can provide valuable insights into a company's financial health, they should be used in conjunction with other sources of information and with an understanding of their limitations.