Accounting Ratio Definition and Different Types

Using the financial statement, we can compare two derived numbers in order to gain a broader understanding of them. An accounting ratio is a group of metrics employed for measuring efficiency and profitability. Companies and investors use accounting ratios to monitor progress and consider the best investment option. These ratios, also known as financial ratios, can be used to measure cash flow, predict profit, and find out how quickly your customers pay you. A company’s accounting ratios can be compared to the ratios of other companies in the same industry. An accounting ratio can also be compared to the company’s same ratio in recent periods to see whether the company is improving or declining.

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  • Where the operating profit is the difference between gross profit and sum of operating costs such as selling, general and administrative expenses.
  • Static numbers on their own may not fully explain how a company is performing.

For example, debt ratios can be used to determine whether the company has enough liquid assets to avoid bankruptcy due to a business disruption. Liquidity ratios are similar to debt ratios in that they are used to calculate a company’s indebtedness. But they do not consider all assets and liabilities for a company in their calculations.

Understanding Accounting Ratios

Below are just a few of the more common ratios that any size business can use. Individual ratios can be grouped in multiple categories as there is overlap in the categorization. So many of us like to invest money either in short- or long-term opportunities.

  • The purpose of the ratio is to see if a business is being efficient with its expenditures to create products that can be sold at reasonable price points.
  • Accounting ratios can be used to compare two line items in a company’s financial statements from its income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement.
  • When a company is experiencing financial difficulties and is unable to pay its debts, it can convert its assets into cash and use the money to settle any pending debts with more ease.
  • But sticking with it can give you a clear picture of your company’s current financial health so you can make crucial decisions.

Likewise companies having too high a current ratio relative to the industry standard suggests that they are using their assets inefficiently. Analyzing accounting ratios is an important step in determining the financial health of a company. It can often point out areas that are bringing the profitability of a company down and therefore need improvement. The efficacy of new management plans, new products, and changes in operational procedures, can all be determined by analyzing accounting ratios. Accounting ratios can be broadly classified as liquidity ratios, solvency ratios, profitability ratios, activity/efficiency ratios and coverage/leverage ratios. As you can see from the examples of accounting ratios above, the gross profit margin is much higher than the net profit margin.

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Thus, if the financial statements contain erroneous data, ratios too would depict a false analysis of the company’s financial results. Because we’re only concerned with the most liquid assets, the ratio excludes inventories from current assets. The Net profit margin ratio measures the net profit from the profit and loss account against revenue. The Net profit is calculated by taking the gross profit and deducting the expenses.

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This process called ratio analysis allows a company to gain better insights to how it is performing over time, against competition, and against internal goals. Ratio analysis is usually rooted heavily with financial metrics, though ratio analysis can be performed with non-financial data. First, ratio analysis can be performed to track changes to a company over time to better understand the trajectory of operations. Second, ratio analysis can be performed to compare results with other similar companies to see how the company is doing compared to competitors. Third, ratio analysis can be performed to strive for specific internally-set or externally-set benchmarks.

Static numbers on their own may not fully explain how a company is performing. The three most common types of accounting ratios are debt ratios, liquidity ratios, and profitability ratios. They are calculated by analyzing data from financial statements such as balance sheets, income statements, and more. Accounting ratios are commonly used by business owners, investors, and analysts to make informed decisions about the company’s future. Accounting ratios measure your organization’s profitability and liquidity and can show if it’s experiencing financial problems.


The earnings can be in the form of higher stock value or future dividends. Investors can use current earnings and dividends to help determine the probable future stock price and the dividends they may expect to earn. Key coverage ratios include the debt coverage ratio, interest coverage, fixed charge coverage, and EBIDTA coverage.

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B) Inventory Turnover Ratio

A ratio is only useful if we benchmark it against something else, like another company or past performance. In other words, if that ratio is above one, the reciprocal will be below one, and vice versa. A financial professional will offer guidance based on the information provided and offer a no-obligation call to better understand your situation. Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master’s in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology.

He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This is because they only summarize what has happened in a business using certain accounting conventions. These two figures should accounting, tax and business advisors be very carefully selected so that the resulting ratio, or the percentage, carries meaning and usefulness for decision-making purposes. Browse all our upcoming and on-demand webcasts and virtual events hosted by leading tax, audit, and accounting experts. Companies want to establish a strong relationship with their first-time customers.

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