By: Shaun From: www.myaccountingcourse.com
Efficiency ratios also called activity ratios measure how well companies utilize their assets to generate income. Efficiency ratios often look at the time it takes companies to collect cash from customer or the time it takes companies to convert inventory into cash—in other words, make sales. These ratios are used by management to help improve the company as well as outside investors and creditors looking at the operations of profitability of the company.
Efficiency ratios go hand in hand with profitability ratios. Most often when companies are efficient with their resources, they become profitable. Wal-Mart is a good example. Wal-Mart is extremely good at selling low margin products at high volumes. In other words, they are efficient at turning their assets. Even though they don’t make much profit per sale, they make a ton of sales. Each little sale adds up.
Here are the most common efficiency ratios include:
Acccounts Receivable Turnover Ratio
What is accounts receivable? It’s an efficiency ratio or activity ratio that measures how many times a business can turn its accounts receivable into cash during a period. In other words, the accounts receivable turnover ratio measures how many times a business can collect its average accounts receivable during the year. A turn refers to each time a company collects its average receivables. If a company had $20,000 of average receivables during the year and collected $40,000 of receivables during the year, the company would have turned its accounts receivable twice because it collected twice the amount of average receivables. This ratio shows how efficient a company is at collecting its credit sales from customers. Some companies collect their receivables from customers in 90 days while other take up to 6 months to collect from customers.
Since the receivables turnover ratio measures a business’ ability to efficiently collect its receivables, it only makes sense that a higher ratio would be more favorable. Higher ratios mean that companies are collecting their receivables more frequently throughout the year. For instance, a ratio of 2 means that the company collected its average receivables twice during the year. In other words, this company is collecting is money from customers every six months. Higher efficiency is favorable from a cash flow standpoint as well. If a company can collect cash from customers sooner, it will be able to use that cash to pay bills and other obligations sooner. Accounts receivable turnover also is and indication of the quality of credit sales and receivables. A company with a higher ratio shows that credit sales are more likely to be collected than a company with a lower ratio. Since accounts receivable are often posted as collateral for loans, quality of receivables is important.
Asset Turnover Ratio
The asset turnover ratio is an efficiency ratio that measures a company’s ability to generate sales from its assets by comparing net sales with average total assets. In other words, this ratio shows how efficiently a company can use its assets to generate sales. The total asset turnover ratio calculates net sales as a percentage of assets to show how many sales are generated from each dollar of company assets. For instance, a ratio of .5 means that each dollar of assets generates 50 cents of sales. This ratio measures how efficiently a firm uses its assets to generate sales, so a higher ratio is always more favorable. Higher turnover ratios mean the company is using its assets more efficiently. Lower ratios mean that the company isn’t using its assets efficiently and most likely have management or production problems.
For instance, a ratio of 1 means that the net sales of a company equals the average total assets for the year. In other words, the company is generating 1 dollar of sales for every dollar invested in assets. Like with most ratios, the asset turnover ratio is based on industry standards. Some industries use assets more efficiently than others. To get a true sense of how well a company’s assets are being used, it must be compared to other companies in its industry. The total asset turnover ratio is a general efficiency ratio that measures how efficiently a company uses all of its assets. This gives investors and creditors an idea of how a company is managed and uses its assets to produce products and sales. Sometimes investors also want to see how companies use more specific assets like fixed assets and current assets. The fixed asset turnover ratio and the working capital ratio are turnover ratios similar to the asset turnover ratio that are often used to calculate the efficiency of these asset classes.
Inventory Turnover Ratio
The inventory turnover ratio is an efficiency ratio that shows how effectively inventory is managed by comparing cost of goods sold with average inventory for a period. This measures how many times average inventory is “turned” or sold during a period. In other words, it measures how many times a company sold its total average inventory dollar amount during the year. A company with $1,000 of average inventory and sales of $10,000 effectively sold its 10 times over. This ratio is important because total turnover depends on two main components of performance. The first component is stock purchasing. If larger amounts of inventory are purchased during the year, the company will have to sell greater amounts of inventory to improve its turnover. If the company can’t sell these greater amounts of inventory, it will incur storage costs and other holding costs. The second component is sales. Sales have to match inventory purchases otherwise the inventory will not turn effectively.
Inventory turnover is a measure of how efficiently a company can control its merchandise, so it is important to have a high turn. This shows the company does not overspend by buying too much inventory and wastes resources by storing non salable inventory. It also shows that the company can effectively sell the inventory it buys. This measurement also shows investors how liquid a company’s inventory is. Think about it. Inventory is one of the biggest assets a retailer reports on its balance sheet. If this inventory can’t be sold, it is worthless to the company. This measurement shows how easily a company can turn its inventory into cash. Creditors are particularly interested in this because inventory is often put up as collateral for loans. Banks want to know that this inventory will be easy to sell. Inventory turns vary with industry. For instance, the apparel industry will have higher turns than the exotic car industry.
Days’ Sales in Inventory
The days sales in inventory calculation, also called days inventory outstanding or simply days in inventory, measures the number of days it will take a company to sell all of its inventory. In other words, the days sales in inventory ratio shows how many days a company’s current stock of inventory will last. This is an important to creditors and investors for three main reasons. It measures value, liquidity, and cash flows. Both investors and creditors want to know how valuable a company’s inventory is. Older, more obsolete inventory is always worth less than current, fresh inventory. The days sales in inventory shows how fast the company is moving its inventory. In other words, it shows how fresh the inventory is. This calculation also shows the liquidity of inventory. Shorter days inventory outstanding means the company can convert its inventory into cash sooner. In other words, the inventory is extremely liquid.
The days sales in inventory is a key component in a company’s inventory management. Inventory is a expensive for a company to keep, maintain, and store. Companies also have to be worried about protecting inventory from theft and obsolescence. Management wants to make sure its inventory moves as fast as possible to minimize these costs and to increase cash flows. Remember the longer the inventory sits on the shelves, the longer the company’s cash can’t be used for other operations. Management strives to only buy enough inventories to sell within the next 90 days. If inventory sits longer than that, it can start costing the company extra money. It only makes sense that lower days inventory outstanding is more favorable than higher ratios.
“Do you know your numbers? Knowing your numbers starts with knowing and understanding how the numbers are generated”.