19 Most Important Financial Ratios for Investors

#19 Most Important Financial Ratios for Investors

#19 most important Financial ratios for investors: 

Reading the financial reports of a company can be a very tedious job. The annual reports of many of the company are over 100 pages which consist of a number of financial jargons.

If you do not understand what these terms mean, you won’t be able to read the reports efficiently.

Nevertheless, there are a number of financial ratios that has made the life of investors very simple. Now, you do not need to make a number of calculations and you can just use these financial ratios to understand the gist.

In this post, I’m going to explain 19 most important financial ratios for the investors. We will cover different types of ratios like valuation ratios, profitability ratios, liquidity ratios, efficiency ratios and debt ratios.

Please note that you do not need to mug up all these ratios or formulas. You can always google these terms anytime (or when you need). Just understand them and learn how & where they are used. These financial ratios are created to make your life easier, not tough.

Let’s get started.

19 most important Financial ratios for investors:

Valuation Ratios

valuation ratios

These ratios are also called price ratios and are used to find whether the share price is over-valued, under-valued or reasonably valued.

Valuation ratios are relative and are generally more helpful in comparing the companies in the same sector. For example, these ratios won’t be of that much use if you compare the valuation ratio of a company in an automobile industry with another company in the banking sector. Here are few of the most important Financial ratios for investors to validate a company’s valuation.

1. P/E ratio: 

Price to earnings ratio is one of the most widely used ratios by the investors throughout the world. PE ratio is calculated by:

P/E ratio = (Market Price per share/ Earnings per share)

PE ratio value varies from industry to industry.

For example, the industry PE of Oil and refineries is around 10-12. On the other hand, PE ratio of FMCG & personal cared is around 55-50. Therefore, you cannot compare the PE of a company from Oil sector with another company from FMCG sector. In such scenario, you will always find oil companies undervalued compared to FMCG companies.

A company with lower PE ratio is considered under-valued compared to another company in the same sector with higher PE ratio.

2. P/B ratio:

The book value is referred as the net asset value of a company. It is calculated as total assets minus intangible assets (patents, goodwill) and liabilities.

Price to book value (P/B) ratio can be calculated using this formula:

P/B ratio = (Market price per share/ book value per share)

Here, you can find book value per share by dividing the book value by the number of outstanding shares.

As a thumb rule, a company with lower P/B ratio is undervalued compared to the companies with higher P/B ratio. However, this ratio also varies from industry to industry.

3. PEG ratio:

PEG ratio or Price/Earnings to growth ratio is used to find the value of a stock by taking in consideration company’s earnings growth.

This ratio is considered to be more useful than PE ratio as PE ratio completely ignores the company’s growth rate. PEG ratio can be calculated using this formula:

PEG ratio = (PE ratio/ Projected annual growth in earnings)

A company with PEG < 1 is good for investment.

Stocks with PEG ratio less than 1 are considered undervalued relative to their EPS growth rates, whereas those with ratios of more than 1 are considered overvalued.


This is a turnover valuation ratio. EV/EBITDA is a good valuation tool for companies with lots of debts.

Here,  EV = (Market capitalization + debt – Cash)

EBITDA = Earnings before interest tax depreciation amortization

A company with lower EV/EBITDA value ratio means that the price is reasonable.

5. P/S ratio:

The stock’s price/sales ratio (P/S) ratio measures the price of a company’s stock against its annual sales. It can be calculated using the formula:

P/S ratio = (Price per share/ Annual sales per share)

P/S ratio can be used to compare companies in the same industry. Lower P/S ratio means that the company is undervalued.

6. Dividend yield:

Dividends are the profits that the company shares with its shareholders as decided by the board of directors. Dividend yield can be calculated as:

Dividend yield = (Dividend per share/ price per share)

Now, what dividend yield is good?

It depends on the investor’s preference. A growing company may not give good dividend as it uses that profit for its expansion. However, the capital appreciation in a growing company can be large.

On the other hand, well established large companies give a good dividend. But their growth rate is saturated. Therefore, it depends totally on investors whether they want a high yield stock or growing stock.

As a rule of thumb, a consistent and increasing dividend over past few years should be preferred.

7. Dividend payout:

Companies do not distribute its entire profit to its shareholders. It may keep few portion of the profit for its expansion or to carry out new plans and share the rest with its stockholders.

Dividend payout tells you the percentage of the profit distributed as dividend. It can be calculated as:

Dividend payout = (Dividend/ net income)

For an investor, steady dividend payout is favorable. Moreover, dividend/Income investors should be more careful to look into dividend payout ratio before investing in dividend stocks.

Also read: Where should I invest my money?

Profitability ratio

liquidity ratio

Profitability ratios are used to measure the effectiveness of a company to generate profits from its business. Few of the most important financial ratios for investors to validate company’s profitability ratios are ROA, ROE, EPS, Profit margin & ROCE as discussed below.

1. Return on assets (ROA)

Return on assets (ROA) is an indicator of how profitable a company is relative to its total assets. It can be calculated as:

ROA = (Net income/ Average total assets)

A company with higher ROA is better for investment as it means that the company’s management is efficient in using its assets to generate earnings. Always select companies with high ROA to invest.

2. Earnings per share (EPS)

EPS is the annual earnings of a company expressed per common share value. It is calculated using the formula

EPS = (Net Income – Dividends on Preferred Stock) / Average Outstanding Shares

As a rule of thumb, companies with increasing Earnings per share for the last couple of year can be considered as a healthy sign.

3. Return on equity (ROE)

ROE is the amount of net income returned as a percentage of shareholders equity. It can be calculated as:

ROE= (Net income/ average stockholder equity)

It shows how good is the company in rewarding its shareholders. A higher ROE means that the company generates a higher profit from the money that the shareholders have invested. Always invest in companies with high ROE.

4. Net Profit margin

Increased revenue doesn’t always mean increased profits. Profit margin reveals how good a company is at converting revenue into profits available for shareholders. It can be calculated as:

Profit margin = (Net income/sales)

A company with steady and increasing profit margin is suitable for investment.

5. Return on capital employed (ROCE)

ROCE measures the company’s profit and efficiency in terms of the capital it employes. It can be calculated as

ROCE= (EBIT/Capital Employed)

Where EBIT = Earnings before interest and tax

Capital employed is the total number of capital that a company utilizes in order to generate profit. It can be calculated as the sum of shareholder’s equity and debt liabilities.

As a rule of thumb, invest in companies with higher ROCE.

Also read: #27 Key terms in share market that you should know

Liquidity ratio

liquidity ratio

Liquidity ratios are used to check the company’s capability to meet its short-term obligations (like debts, borrowings etc). A company with low liquidity cannot meet its short-term debts and may face difficulties to run it’s business efficiently. Here are few of the most important financial ratios for investors to check the company’s liquidity:

1. Current Ratio:

It tells you the ability of a company to pay its short-term liabilities with short-term assets. Current ratio can be calculated as:

Current ratio = (Current assets / current liabilities)

While investing, companies with a current ratio greater than 1 should be preferred. This means that the current assets should be greater than current liabilities of a company.

2. Quick ratio:

It is also called as acid test ratio. Quick ratio takes accounts of the assets that can pay the debt for the short term.

Quick ratio = (Current assets – Inventory) / current liabilities

The quick ratio doesn’t consider inventory as current assets as it assumes that selling inventory will take some time and hence cannot meet the current liabilities.

A company with the quick ratio greater that one means that it can meet its short-term debts and hence quick ratio greater than 1 should be preferred.

Efficiency ratio

Efficiency ratios

Efficiency ratios are used to study a company’s efficiency to employ resources invested in its fixed and capital assets. Here are three of the most important financial ratios for investors to check the company’s efficiency:

1.Asset turnover ratio:

It tells how good a company is at using its assets to generate revenue. Asset turnover ratio can be calculated as:

Asset turnover ratio = (sales/ Average total assets)

Higher the asset turnover ratio, better it’s for the company as it means that the company is generating more revenue per rupee spent.

2. Inventory turnover ratio:

This ratio is used for those industries which use inventories like the automobile, FMCG, etc.

A company should not collect piles of shares and should sell its inventories as early as possible. Inventory turnover ratio helps to check the efficiency of cycling inventory. It can be calculated as:

Inventory turnover ratio = (Costs of goods sold/ Average inventory)

Inventory turnover ratio tells how good a company is at replenishing its inventories.

3. Average collection period:

Average collection period is used to check how long company takes to collect the payment owed by its receivables.

It is calculated by dividing the average balance of account receivable by total net credit sales and multiplying the quotient by the total number of days in the period.

Average collection period = (AR * Days)/ Credit sales

Where AR = Average amount of accounts receivable

Credit sales= Total amount of net credit sales in the period

Average collection period should be lower as higher ratio means that the company is taking too long to collect the receivables and hence is unfavorable for the operations of the company.

Also read: 10 Must Read Books For Stock Market Investors.

Debt Ratio

debt ratio

Debt or solvency or leverage ratios are used to determine a company’s ability to meet its long-term liabilities. They are used to calculate how much debt a company has at its current financial situation. Here are the two most important Financial ratios for investors to check debt:

1. Debt/equity ratio:

It is used to check how much capital amount is borrowed (debt) vs that of contributed by the shareholders (equity) in a company.

As a thumb rule, invest in companies with debt to equity ratio less than 1 as it means that the debts are less than the equity.

2. Interest coverage ratio:

It is used to check how well the company can meet its interest payment obligation. Interest coverage ratio can be calculated by:

Interest coverage ratio = (EBIT/ Interest expense)

Where EBIT = Earnings before interest and taxes

The interest coverage ratio is a measure of the number of times a company could make the interest payments on its debt with its EBIT. A higher interest coverage ratio is preferable for a company as it reflects- debt serving ability of the company, on-time repayment capability and credit rating for new borrowings

Always invest in a company with high and stable Interest coverage ratio. As a thumb rule, avoid investing in companies with interest coverage ratio less than 1, as it may be a sign of trouble and might mean that the company has not enough funds to pay its interests.

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That’s all. I hope this post on the most important Financial ratios for investors is useful to the readers.

In case I missed any important financial ratio, feel free to comment below.

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