Ratio Analysis is a form of Financial Statement Analysis that is used to obtain a quick indication of a firm's financial performance in several key areas. The ratios are categorized as Short-term Solvency Ratios, Debt Management Ratios, Asset Management Ratios, Profitability Ratios, and Market Value Ratios.
Ratio Analysis as a tool possesses several important features. The data, which are provided by financial statements, are readily available. The computation of ratios facilitates the comparison of firms which differ in size. Ratios can be used to compare a firm's financial performance with industry averages. In addition, ratios can be used in a form of trend analysis to identify areas where performance has improved or deteriorated over time.
Because Ratio Analysis is based upon accounting information, its effectiveness is limited by the distortions which arise in financial statements due to such things as Historical Cost Accounting and inflation. Therefore, Ratio Analysis should only be used as a first step in financial analysis, to obtain a quick indication of a firm's performance and to identify areas which need to be investigated further.
The pages below present the most widely used ratios in each of the categories given above. Please keep in mind that there is not universal agreement as to how many of these ratios should be calculated. You may find that different books use slightly different formulas for the computation of many ratios. Therefore, if you are comparing a ratio that you calculated with a published ratio or an industry average, make sure that you use the same formula as used in the calculation of the published ratio.
Short-term Solvency or Liquidity Ratios
Short-term Solvency Ratios attempt to measure the ability of a firm to meet its short-term financial obligations. In other words, these ratios seek to determine the ability of a firm to avoid financial distress in the short-run. The two most important Short-term