Liquidity ratios

Liquidity ratios: What is it?

Liquidity ratios are the ratios that measure the ability of a company to meet its short term debt obligations. These ratios measure the ability of a company to pay off its short-term liabilities when they fall due.

The liquidity ratios are a result of dividing cash and other liquid assets by the short term borrowings and current liabilities. They show the number of times the short term debt obligations are covered by the cash and liquid assets. If the value is greater than 1, it means the short term obligations are fully covered.

Generally, the higher the liquidity ratios are, the higher the margin of safety that the company posses to meet its current liabilities. Liquidity ratios greater than 1 indicate that the company is in good financial health and it is less likely fall into financial difficulties.

Most common examples of liquidity ratios include current ratio, acid test ratio (also known as quick ratio), cash ratio and working capital ratio. Different assets are considered to be relevant by different analysts. Some analysts consider only the cash and cash equivalents as relevant assets because they are most likely to be used to meet short term liabilities in an emergency. Some analysts consider the debtors and trade receivables as relevant assets in addition to cash and cash equivalents. The value of inventory is also considered relevant asset for calculations of liquidity ratios by some analysts.

The concept of cash cycle is also important for better understanding of liquidity ratios. The cash continuously cycles through the operations of a company. A company’s cash is usually tied up in the finished goods, the raw materials, and trade debtors. It is not until the inventory is sold, sales invoices raised, and the debtors’ make payments that the company receives cash. The cash tied up in the cash cycle is known as working capital, and liquidity ratios try to measure the balance between current assets and current liabilities.

A company must posses the ability to release cash from cash cycle to meet its financial obligations when the creditors seek payment. In other words, a company should posses the ability to translate its short term assets into cash. The liquidity ratios attempt to measure this ability of a company.


Acid-Test Ratio

The term “Acid-test ratio” is also known as quick ratio. The most basic definition of acid-test ratio is that, “it measures current (short term) liquidity and position of the company”. To do the analysis accountants weight current assets of the company against the current liabilities which result in the ratio that highlights the liquidity of the company.

Cash Ratio

Cash ratio (also called cash asset ratio) isthe ratio of a company's cash and cash equivalent assets to its total liabilities. Cash ratio is a refinement of quick ratio and indicates the extent to which readily available funds can pay off current liabilities. Potential creditors use this ratio as a measure of a company's liquidity and how easily it can service debt and cover short-term liabilities.

Current Ratio

Current ratio is balance-sheet financial performance measure of company liquidity. Current ratio indicates a company's ability to meet short-term debt obligations. The current ratio measures whether or not a firm has enough resources to pay its debts over the next 12 months.

Net Working Capital

Net working capital (NWC) = current assets minus current liabilities.

Quick Ratio

The quick ratio is a measure of a company's ability to meet its short-term obligations using its most liquid assets (near cash or quick assets). Quick assets include those current assets that presumably can be quickly converted to cash at close to their book values. Quick ratio is viewed as a sign of a company's financial strength or weakness; it gives information about a company’s short term liquidity. The ratio tells creditors how much of the company's short term debt can be met by selling all the company's liquid assets at very short notice.

Working Capital

Working capital is the amount by which the value of a company's current assets exceeds its current liabilities. Also called net working capital. Sometimes the term "working capital" is used as synonym for "current assets" but more frequently as "net working capital", i.e. the amount of current assets that is in excess of current liabilities. Working capital is frequently used to measure a firm's ability to meet current obligations. It measures how much in liquid assets a company has available to build its business.

Working Capital Ratio

Working capital ratio is the alternative term for the term "current ratio".

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