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by 5paisa Research Team Last Updated: 2023-10-10T11:40:42+05:30
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In finance and business, measuring a company's financial health is a complex task that requires carefully examining various financial ratios and metrics. One of these critical tools is the Acid-Test Ratio, the Quick Ratio. This ratio is an important aspect associated with the company's short-term liquidity and ability to meet urgent financial obligations without any need to rely on the inventory.  In this blog, we will go deep into the topic of Acid-Test Ratio to explore what it is and how it is used.

 

What is the Acid-test Ratio?

The Acid-Test Ratio (or the Quick Ratio) is a financial metric used to analyze a company's short-term liquidity and ability to meet urgent financial obligations. It provides a look into a company's ability to cover its short-term liabilities using its most liquid assets without using the inventory.

 

Calculation & Acid-Test Ratio Formula

The below-mentioned formula can be used to calculate the Acid- Test Ratio- 

Acid-Test Ratio equals the sum of Cash, Marketable Securities, and Accounts Receivable divided by the Current Liabilities.

Here's what each component means:

1. Cash is the physical cash on hand and cash equivalents.

2. Marketable Securities: Investments that can be converted to cash.

3. Accounts Receivable: Money owed to the company through purchases on credit.

4. Current Liabilities: Company's short-term obligations.
 

Understanding the Acid-Test Ratio

The Acid-Test Ratio is a more conservative measure of liquidity than the current ratio because it excludes inventory from the calculation. This exclusion is based on the assumption that inventory may be less easily convertible to cash in the short term, and it provides a clearer picture of a company's immediate ability to pay its bills without relying on inventory sales.

Acid test ratio example

Let's illustrate the Acid-Test Ratio formula with a simple example:

Suppose you're analyzing the financial health of Company XYZ, a retail business. You want to calculate their Acid-Test Ratio to assess their short-term liquidity. Here are the relevant financial figures from their balance sheet:

  • Cash on hand: Rs10,000
  • Marketable Securities: Rs5,000
  • Accounts Receivable: Rs8,000
  • Inventory: Rs12,000
  • Accounts Payable: Rs6,000
  • Short-Term Loans: Rs4,000

Now, let's calculate the Acid-Test Ratio step by step:

1. Identify the relevant assets and liabilities:

  •    Liquid Assets = Rs. 23,000
  •    Current Liabilities = Rs. 10,000

2. Put these values into the Acid-Test Ratio formula:

Acid-Test Ratio = 23,000/10,000

3. Calculate the ratio:

Acid-Test Ratio = 2.3

Here the, Company XYZ has an Acid-Test Ratio of 2.3. This means that for every dollar of short-term liabilities they owe, they have Rs2.30 in highly liquid assets that can be used to cover those liabilities without relying on inventory sales.
 

Interpretation of Acid Test Ratio

Understanding the Acid-Test Ratio requires an understanding of what the different values of the ratio mean: 

1. Acid-Test Ratio = 1 or Higher: If the ratio is equal to or greater than 1, the company has sufficient liquid assets to cover its short-term liabilities without relying on inventory sales. 

2. Acid-Test Ratio Less Than 1: If the ratio falls below 1, the company may need help meeting its short-term obligations using only its most liquid assets. 

3. Industry and Benchmark Comparison: Interpreting the Acid-Test Ratio also involves considering industry benchmarks and comparing the company's ratio to those of its peers. A ratio that is below average for its industry might still be acceptable if the industry norm is lower. 

4. Trends Over Time: Examining the trend of the Acid-Test Ratio over multiple periods is essential. A declining ratio may indicate worsening liquidity, while an improving ratio suggests better short-term financial health. 

5. Contextual Analysis: The Acid-Test Ratio should always be interpreted in the context of the company's unique financial situation. Factors such as seasonality, industry cycles, and specific business strategies can influence the ideal ratio for a particular company. 
 

Difference between current and acid test ratio

The Current Ratio and the Acid-Test Ratio are used to assess a company's liquidity and ability to meet its short-term obligations. However, they differ in terms of the assets and liabilities they consider and their level of conservatism:

1. Composition of Assets:

  •  Current Ratio: All current assets are considered while calculating the current ratio. Inventory is an essential component of the Current Ratio, even though it may not be as easily convertible to cash in the short term.
  •  Acid-Test Ratio (Quick Ratio): The Acid-Test Ratio focuses on a more conservative selection of assets. It excludes inventory and includes only the most liquid assets. This makes the Acid-Test Ratio a more stringent measure of short-term liquidity.

 

2. Formula:

  •  Current Ratio Formula: Current Ratio equals Current Assets divided by the Current Liabilities.
  •   Acid-Test Ratio Formula: Acid-Test Ratio equals the sum of Cash, Marketable Securities, and Accounts Receivable divided by the Current Liabilities.


3. Level of Conservatism:

  •    Current Ratio: The Current Ratio provides a broader view of a company's short-term liquidity. It is less conservative in its assessment of liquidity.
  •    Acid-Test Ratio: The Acid-Test Ratio takes a more conservative approach by focusing solely on highly liquid assets. Excluding inventory provides a more stringent assessment of a company's ability to meet short-term obligations.

 

4. Use Cases:

  •    Current Ratio: The Current Ratio is suitable for a general liquidity assessment.
  •    Acid-Test Ratio: The Acid-Test Ratio is used when a more conservative measure of liquidity is required.

 

Drawbacks of the Acid-Test Ratio

While the Acid-Test Ratio (Quick Ratio) is a valuable metric for assessing short-term liquidity, it has certain drawbacks and limitations that should be considered:

1. Overly Conservative: The Acid-Test Ratio can be excessively conservative by excluding inventory. 

2. Ignores Timing of Cash Flows: The ratio does not consider the timing of cash flows, which can be crucial as not all accounts receivable may be collectible in the short term.

3. Lack of Industry Context: The ideal Acid-Test Ratio can vary significantly by industry. Failing to consider industry norms can lead to misinterpretation.

4. Dependence on Receivables: A high proportion of accounts receivable in the ratio can artificially inflate the Acid-Test Ratio. 

5. Neglects Future Cash Sources: The Acid-Test Ratio focuses solely on current assets and liabilities.

 

Conclusion

The acid test ratio is the right tool to know about the company's finances without considering the inventory. The interpretation is essential according to the industry. Knowing all the details before using the ratio is important as it also has certain drawbacks.

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