Current Ratio

    The ratio between all current assets and all current liabilities; another way of expressing liquidity.

    The current ratio is an indication of a firm's market liquidity and ability to meet creditor's demands. Acceptable current ratios vary from industry to industry and are generally between 1.5 and 3 for healthy businesses. If a company's current ratio is in this range, then it generally indicates good short-term financial strength. If current liabilities exceed current assets (the current ratio is below 1), then the company may have problems meeting its short-term obligations. If the current ratio is too high, then the company may not be efficiently using its current assets or its short-term financing facilities. This may also indicate problems in working capital management.

    Low values for the current or quick ratios (values less than 1) indicate that a firm may have difficulty meeting current obligations. Low values, however, do not indicate a critical problem. If an organization has good long-term prospects, it may be able to borrow against those prospects to meet current obligations. Some types of businesses usually operate with a current ratio less than one. For example, if inventory turns over much more rapidly than the accounts payable become due, then the current ratio will be less than one. This can allow a firm to operate with a low current ratio.

    If all other things were equal, a creditor, who is expecting to be paid in the next 12 months, would consider a high current ratio to be better than a low current ratio, because a high current ratio means that the company is more likely to meet its liabilities which fall due in the next 12 months. You should view the relation between the operation cycle period and the current ratio.

    One problem with the current ratio is that it ignores timing of cash received and paid out. For example, if all the bills are due this week, and inventory is the only current asset, but won't be sold until the end of the month, the current ratio tells very little about the company's ability to survive.


(Current Assets) / (Current Liabilities)