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Principles of Finance

6.3 Liquidity Ratios

Principles of Finance6.3 Liquidity Ratios

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Table of contents
  1. Preface
  2. 1 Introduction to Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 1.1 What Is Finance?
    3. 1.2 The Role of Finance in an Organization
    4. 1.3 Importance of Data and Technology
    5. 1.4 Careers in Finance
    6. 1.5 Markets and Participants
    7. 1.6 Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Matters
    8. 1.7 Financial Instruments
    9. 1.8 Concepts of Time and Value
    10. Summary
    11. Key Terms
    12. Multiple Choice
    13. Review Questions
    14. Video Activity
  3. 2 Corporate Structure and Governance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 2.1 Business Structures
    3. 2.2 Relationship between Shareholders and Company Management
    4. 2.3 Role of the Board of Directors
    5. 2.4 Agency Issues: Shareholders and Corporate Boards
    6. 2.5 Interacting with Investors, Intermediaries, and Other Market Participants
    7. 2.6 Companies in Domestic and Global Markets
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Video Activity
  4. 3 Economic Foundations: Money and Rates
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 3.1 Microeconomics
    3. 3.2 Macroeconomics
    4. 3.3 Business Cycles and Economic Activity
    5. 3.4 Interest Rates
    6. 3.5 Foreign Exchange Rates
    7. 3.6 Sources and Characteristics of Economic Data
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  5. 4 Accrual Accounting Process
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 4.1 Cash versus Accrual Accounting
    3. 4.2 Economic Basis for Accrual Accounting
    4. 4.3 How Does a Company Recognize a Sale and an Expense?
    5. 4.4 When Should a Company Capitalize or Expense an Item?
    6. 4.5 What Is “Profit” versus “Loss” for the Company?
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  6. 5 Financial Statements
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 5.1 The Income Statement
    3. 5.2 The Balance Sheet
    4. 5.3 The Relationship between the Balance Sheet and the Income Statement
    5. 5.4 The Statement of Owner’s Equity
    6. 5.5 The Statement of Cash Flows
    7. 5.6 Operating Cash Flow and Free Cash Flow to the Firm (FCFF)
    8. 5.7 Common-Size Statements
    9. 5.8 Reporting Financial Activity
    10. Summary
    11. Key Terms
    12. CFA Institute
    13. Multiple Choice
    14. Review Questions
    15. Problems
    16. Video Activity
  7. 6 Measures of Financial Health
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 6.1 Ratios: Condensing Information into Smaller Pieces
    3. 6.2 Operating Efficiency Ratios
    4. 6.3 Liquidity Ratios
    5. 6.4 Solvency Ratios
    6. 6.5 Market Value Ratios
    7. 6.6 Profitability Ratios and the DuPont Method
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  8. 7 Time Value of Money I: Single Payment Value
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 7.1 Now versus Later Concepts
    3. 7.2 Time Value of Money (TVM) Basics
    4. 7.3 Methods for Solving Time Value of Money Problems
    5. 7.4 Applications of TVM in Finance
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. CFA Institute
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  9. 8 Time Value of Money II: Equal Multiple Payments
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 8.1 Perpetuities
    3. 8.2 Annuities
    4. 8.3 Loan Amortization
    5. 8.4 Stated versus Effective Rates
    6. 8.5 Equal Payments with a Financial Calculator and Excel
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  10. 9 Time Value of Money III: Unequal Multiple Payment Values
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 9.1 Timing of Cash Flows
    3. 9.2 Unequal Payments Using a Financial Calculator or Microsoft Excel
    4. Summary
    5. Key Terms
    6. CFA Institute
    7. Multiple Choice
    8. Review Questions
    9. Problems
    10. Video Activity
  11. 10 Bonds and Bond Valuation
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 10.1 Characteristics of Bonds
    3. 10.2 Bond Valuation
    4. 10.3 Using the Yield Curve
    5. 10.4 Risks of Interest Rates and Default
    6. 10.5 Using Spreadsheets to Solve Bond Problems
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  12. 11 Stocks and Stock Valuation
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 11.1 Multiple Approaches to Stock Valuation
    3. 11.2 Dividend Discount Models (DDMs)
    4. 11.3 Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) Model
    5. 11.4 Preferred Stock
    6. 11.5 Efficient Markets
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  13. 12 Historical Performance of US Markets
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 12.1 Overview of US Financial Markets
    3. 12.2 Historical Picture of Inflation
    4. 12.3 Historical Picture of Returns to Bonds
    5. 12.4 Historical Picture of Returns to Stocks
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. Multiple Choice
    9. Review Questions
    10. Video Activity
  14. 13 Statistical Analysis in Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 13.1 Measures of Center
    3. 13.2 Measures of Spread
    4. 13.3 Measures of Position
    5. 13.4 Statistical Distributions
    6. 13.5 Probability Distributions
    7. 13.6 Data Visualization and Graphical Displays
    8. 13.7 The R Statistical Analysis Tool
    9. Summary
    10. Key Terms
    11. CFA Institute
    12. Multiple Choice
    13. Review Questions
    14. Problems
    15. Video Activity
  15. 14 Regression Analysis in Finance
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 14.1 Correlation Analysis
    3. 14.2 Linear Regression Analysis
    4. 14.3 Best-Fit Linear Model
    5. 14.4 Regression Applications in Finance
    6. 14.5 Predictions and Prediction Intervals
    7. 14.6 Use of R Statistical Analysis Tool for Regression Analysis
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  16. 15 How to Think about Investing
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 15.1 Risk and Return to an Individual Asset
    3. 15.2 Risk and Return to Multiple Assets
    4. 15.3 The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM)
    5. 15.4 Applications in Performance Measurement
    6. 15.5 Using Excel to Make Investment Decisions
    7. Summary
    8. Key Terms
    9. CFA Institute
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  17. 16 How Companies Think about Investing
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 16.1 Payback Period Method
    3. 16.2 Net Present Value (NPV) Method
    4. 16.3 Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Method
    5. 16.4 Alternative Methods
    6. 16.5 Choosing between Projects
    7. 16.6 Using Excel to Make Company Investment Decisions
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  18. 17 How Firms Raise Capital
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 17.1 The Concept of Capital Structure
    3. 17.2 The Costs of Debt and Equity Capital
    4. 17.3 Calculating the Weighted Average Cost of Capital
    5. 17.4 Capital Structure Choices
    6. 17.5 Optimal Capital Structure
    7. 17.6 Alternative Sources of Funds
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. CFA Institute
    11. Multiple Choice
    12. Review Questions
    13. Problems
    14. Video Activity
  19. 18 Financial Forecasting
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 18.1 The Importance of Forecasting
    3. 18.2 Forecasting Sales
    4. 18.3 Pro Forma Financials
    5. 18.4 Generating the Complete Forecast
    6. 18.5 Forecasting Cash Flow and Assessing the Value of Growth
    7. 18.6 Using Excel to Create the Long-Term Forecast
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Problems
    13. Video Activity
  20. 19 The Importance of Trade Credit and Working Capital in Planning
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 19.1 What Is Working Capital?
    3. 19.2 What Is Trade Credit?
    4. 19.3 Cash Management
    5. 19.4 Receivables Management
    6. 19.5 Inventory Management
    7. 19.6 Using Excel to Create the Short-Term Plan
    8. Summary
    9. Key Terms
    10. Multiple Choice
    11. Review Questions
    12. Video Activity
  21. 20 Risk Management and the Financial Manager
    1. Why It Matters
    2. 20.1 The Importance of Risk Management
    3. 20.2 Commodity Price Risk
    4. 20.3 Exchange Rates and Risk
    5. 20.4 Interest Rate Risk
    6. Summary
    7. Key Terms
    8. CFA Institute
    9. Multiple Choice
    10. Review Questions
    11. Problems
    12. Video Activity
  22. Index

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Calculate current, quick, and cash ratios to assess a firm’s liquidity and make informed business decisions.
  • Assess organizational performance using liquidity ratios.

Liquidity refers to the business’s ability to manage current assets or convert assets into cash in order to meet short-term cash needs, another aspect of a firm’s financial health. Examples of the most liquid assets include cash, accounts receivable, and inventory for merchandising or manufacturing businesses. The reason these are among the most liquid assets is that these assets will be turned into cash more quickly than land or buildings, for example. Accounts receivable represents goods or services that have already been sold and will typically be paid/collected within 30 to 45 days.

Inventory is less liquid than accounts receivable because the product must first be sold before it generates cash (either through a cash sale or sale on account). Inventory is, however, more liquid than land or buildings because, under most circumstances, it is easier and quicker for a business to find someone to purchase its goods than it is to find a buyer for land or buildings.

Current Ratio

The current ratio is closely related to working capital; it represents the current assets divided by current liabilities. The current ratio utilizes the same amounts as working capital (current assets and current liabilities) but presents the amount in ratio, rather than dollar, form. That is, the current ratio is defined as current assets/current liabilities. The interpretation of the current ratio is similar to working capital. A ratio of greater than one indicates that the firm has the ability to meet short-term obligations with a buffer, while a ratio of less than one indicates that the firm should pay close attention to the composition of its current assets as well as the timing of the current liabilities.

CurrentRatio=Current AssetsCurrent LiabilitiesCurrentRatio=Current AssetsCurrent Liabilities

The current ratio in the current year for Clear Lake Sporting Goods is

Current Ratio=$200,000$100,000 = 2 or 2:1Current Ratio=$200,000$100,000 = 2 or 2:1

A 2:1 ratio means the company has twice as many current assets as current liabilities; typically, this would be plenty to cover obligations. A 2:1 ratio is actually quite high for most companies and most industries. Again, it’s recommended that ratios be used in conjunction with one another. An analyst would likely look at the high current ratio and low accounts receivable turnover to begin asking questions about management performance, as this might indicate a trouble area (high inventory and slow collections).

Quick Ratio

The quick ratio, also known as the acid-test ratio, is similar to the current ratio except current assets are more narrowly defined as the most liquid assets, which exclude inventory and prepaid expenses. The conversion of inventory and prepaid expenses to cash can sometimes take more time than the liquidation of other current assets. A company will want to know what it has on hand and can use quickly if an immediate obligation is due. The formula for the quick ratio is

Quick Ratio=Cash + Short-Term Investments + Accounts ReceivableCurrent LiabilitiesQuick Ratio=Cash + Short-Term Investments + Accounts ReceivableCurrent Liabilities

The quick ratio for Clear Lake Sporting Goods in the current year is

Quick Ratio =$110,000+$20,000+$30,000$100,000=1.6 or 1.6:1Quick Ratio =$110,000+$20,000+$30,000$100,000=1.6 or 1.6:1

A 1.6:1 ratio means the company has enough quick assets to cover current liabilities. It’s again key to note that a single ratio shouldn’t be used out of context. A 1.6 ratio is difficult to interpret on its own. Industry averages and trend analysis for Clear Lake Sporting Goods would also be helpful in giving the ratio more meaning.

Cash Ratio

Cash is the most liquid asset a company has, and cash ratio is often used by investors and lenders to asses an organization’s liquidity. It represents the firm’s cash and cash equivalents divided by current liabilities and is a more conservative look at a firm’s liquidity than the current or quick ratios. The ratio is reflected as a number, not a percentage. A cash ratio of 1.0 means the firm has enough cash to cover all current liabilities if something happened and it was required to pay all current debts immediately. A ratio of less than 1.0 means the firm has more current liabilities than it has cash on hand. A ratio of more than 1.0 means it has enough cash on hand to pay all current liabilities and still have cash left over. While a ratio greater than 1.0 may sound ideal, it’s important to consider the specifics of the company. Sitting on idle cash is not ideal, as the cash could be used to earn a return. And having a ratio less than 1.0 isn’t always bad, as many firms operate quite successfully with a ratio of less than 1.0. Comparing the company ratio with trend analysis and with industry averages will help provide more insight.

Cash Ratio=Cash and Cash EquivalentsCurrent LiabilitiesCash Ratio=Cash and Cash EquivalentsCurrent Liabilities

The cash ratio for Clear Lake Sporting Goods in the current year is:

CashRatio=$110,000$100,000 = 1.1CashRatio=$110,000$100,000 = 1.1

A 1.1 ratio means the company has enough cash to cover current liabilities.

Rolled cash bills of various denominations, including 10, 20, and 100 US dollars.
Figure 6.5 Cash is the most liquid asset a company has and is often used by investors and lenders to assess an organization’s liquidity. (credit: “20 US Dollar” by Jack Sem/flickr CC BY 2.0)
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