Cash Ratio

Cash ratio measures a company's liquidity by comparing its cash and cash equivalents to its current liabilities. It shows the company's ability to pay short-term debts using its most liquid assets.
Cash Ratio
3 mins read
10-June-2024

Cash ratio assesses a company's liquidity, reflecting its capacity to settle short-term debts using its most readily available assets, comprising cash and cash equivalents. It primarily compares the company's cash and cash equivalents to its current liabilities. It is a fundamental financial metric used by investors, analysts, and creditors to evaluate a company's liquidity position. This article delves into the concept of cash ratio, its formula, interpretation, examples, relevance, limitations, and frequently asked questions to provide a comprehensive understanding.

Mutual funds maintain a cash ratio to manage liquidity, ensuring they have sufficient cash on hand to meet redemption requests while striving to maximise returns for investors. Incorporating the cash ratio into your financial analysis can significantly enhance your understanding of a company's liquidity position, illustrating its capacity to settle short-term liabilities with its cash and cash equivalents.

This metric serves as a critical indicator within financial planning, offering insights into the company’s immediate solvency and operational stability, akin to how mutual funds schemes play a role in achieving broader investment objectives. Adding established mutual funds to your portfolio, whether through a single lump sum investment or a SIP investment, can play a crucial role in helping you meet your overall financial goals in several different ways.

What is the cash ratio?

The cash ratio is a liquidity ratio that measures the proportion of a company's cash and cash equivalents to its current liabilities. Unlike other liquidity ratios such as the current ratio or quick ratio, which include various liquid assets, the cash ratio focuses solely on cash. By excluding other assets, the cash ratio offers a conservative assessment of a company's liquidity position.

What Is the significance of cash ratio?

The cash ratio is pivotal for investors in assessing a company's capability to settle its immediate financial obligations using cash or cash equivalents. It provides insights into the company's ability to meet current liabilities promptly without resorting to asset liquidation.

However, despite its significance, the cash ratio also has some limitations. Maintaining excessively high levels of cash and near-cash reserves to cover current liabilities may not be the most efficient strategy for a company. Holding substantial cash on the balance sheet could be perceived as underutilisation of assets. Hence, while this ratio offers valuable insights, it is not the sole determinant of a company's financial robustness.

What is the formula for the cash credit ratio?

The formula to calculate the cash ratio is straightforward:

cash ratio = Cash and Cash Equivalents/Current Liabilities

This formula compares the amount of cash a company holds with its short-term obligations, providing insights into its ability to meet immediate financial commitments.

Where:

  • Cash comprises legal tender (coins, currency) and demand deposits (checks, checking accounts, bank drafts, etc.).
  • Cash equivalents refer to assets easily convertible into cash with negligible risk. Examples include savings accounts, T-bills, and money market instruments.
  • Current liabilities denote obligations due within a year, encompassing short-term debt, accounts payable, and accrued liabilities.

Learning the interpretation of cash ratio

Interpreting the cash ratio involves understanding the relationship between a company's cash reserves and its current liabilities. A cash ratio greater than 1 indicates that a company has more cash on hand than its short-term debts, reflecting a healthy liquidity position. Conversely, a cash ratio less than 1 suggests that a company may struggle to cover its immediate liabilities with its existing cash reserves alone.

Elaborating examples of cash credit ratio

Example 1

Let's consider a hypothetical scenario where Company XYZ has cash and cash equivalents worth Rs. 500,000 and current liabilities of Rs. 300,000. Using the formula:

Cash ratio=500,000/300,000=1.67

This implies that Company XYZ has a cash ratio of 1.67, indicating it has sufficient cash reserves to cover its current liabilities comfortably.

Example 2 – Company A

Imagine company A has cash and cash equivalents of Rs. 1,000 crore and current liabilities of Rs. 800 crore. Calculating the cash credit ratio:

Cash ratio = 1,000 crore / 800 crore = 1.25

Company A's cash ratio of 1.25 suggests it possesses adequate liquidity to fulfil its short-term obligations without difficulty.

Example 3 – Company B

Suppose company B has cash and cash equivalents amounting to Rs. 50 lakh and current liabilities of Rs. 75 lakh. Utilising the formula:

Cash ratio = 50 lakh / 75 lakh = 0.67

Company B's cash ratio of 0.67 indicates it may face challenges in covering its current liabilities solely with its available cash reserves.

Understanding relevance and use of cash ratio

The cash credit ratio holds significant relevance for investors, creditors, and analysts in assessing a company's financial health. It provides valuable insights into a company's liquidity position, indicating its ability to manage short-term financial obligations without resorting to external financing or asset liquidation. A high cash ratio generally signifies strong liquidity and financial stability, whereas a low ratio may raise concerns regarding a company's short-term solvency.

Benefits of cash ratio

The cash ratio provides several benefits for assessing a company's financial health and liquidity:

  1. Liquidity assessment: It offers a clear indication of a company's ability to cover its short-term liabilities with its readily available cash and cash equivalents.
  2. Risk management: By evaluating the cash ratio, investors and creditors can assess the level of risk associated with a company's ability to meet its short-term financial obligations.
  3. Financial stability: A high cash ratio indicates a stronger financial position, providing reassurance to stakeholders and potential investors regarding the company's stability.
  4. Strategic planning: Companies can use the cash ratio as a tool for strategic planning and decision-making regarding cash management, investment, and debt obligations.
  5. Comparative analysis: It facilitates comparisons between companies within the same industry or sector, helping investors and analysts identify outliers or companies with superior liquidity positions.
  6. Investment decision making: Investors can use the cash ratio to evaluate the liquidity risk associated with potential investment opportunities, informing their investment decisions.
  7. Creditworthiness assessment: Lenders and creditors use the cash ratio as one of the metrics to assess a company's creditworthiness and determine lending terms.

Limitations of cash ratio

The cash ratio is a liquidity metric that measures a company's ability to pay off its short-term liabilities with its cash and cash equivalents. Despite its usefulness in assessing a company's immediate financial health, it has several limitations:

  1. Ignore marketable securities: The cash ratio may not fully capture a company's liquidity since it excludes marketable securities that can be quickly converted into cash. This narrow focus might understate a company's ability to meet short-term obligations.
  2. Lack of context on receivables: By focusing solely on cash and equivalents, the ratio overlooks the company's accounts receivables and their quality. A company with high-quality receivables may be in a better liquidity position than suggested by its cash ratio.
  3. Volatility and seasonality: The cash ratio can be highly volatile and influenced by seasonal factors. For companies with significant fluctuations in cash holdings, the ratio at a single point in time may not accurately reflect overall liquidity.
  4. Neglects operational efficiency: This ratio does not consider a company's ability to generate cash from its operations, which is crucial for sustained liquidity. A company might have a low cash ratio but strong cash flows from operations, indicating a healthier financial state than the ratio suggests.
  5. Does not reflect solvency: The cash ratio is a measure of liquidity, not solvency. A company might have enough cash to meet short-term liabilities but still face long-term financial instability due to high levels of debt or inefficient asset management.
  6. Oversimplification: Relying solely on the cash ratio for financial analysis can be misleading. It simplifies complex financial conditions into a single number, potentially ignoring other important financial metrics and operational factors.
  7. Impact of cash management policies: The ratio is significantly influenced by a company's cash management policies. Companies that aggressively invest their cash might appear less liquid, even if these investments are generating high returns.
  8. Industry-specific limitations: The relevance of the cash ratio varies by industry. For industries with higher cash transactions or where liquid assets are crucial for operations, the cash ratio might be more significant. However, in capital-intensive or credit-based industries, this ratio might be less telling.
  9. Potential for misinterpretation: Stakeholders might misinterpret a high cash ratio as a positive indicator, ignoring that excessive cash might indicate poor asset utilisation or aversion to profitable investments.
  10. Time-sensitive data: Since the cash ratio is based on current financial statements, it represents a snapshot in time. This limitation means that the ratio might not accurately reflect changes in the company's financial position shortly after the reporting period.

Conclusion

The cash ratio is a stringent indicator of a company's liquidity that measures the ability of the company to cover its short-term liabilities with its most liquid assets: cash and cash equivalents. This ratio is calculated by dividing the total cash and cash equivalents by the total current liabilities.

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Frequently asked questions

What is meant by cash ratio?

The cash ratio is a financial metric that measures the proportion of a company's cash and cash equivalents to its current liabilities. It offers insights into a company's ability to fulfil short-term financial obligations using its available cash reserves.

Is a high cash ratio better?

Generally, a high cash ratio is considered favourable as it indicates ample liquidity and the ability to cover short-term liabilities comfortably. However, excessively high cash reserves may imply inefficiency in resource allocation.

Is 0.2 a good cash ratio?

A cash ratio of 0.2 suggests that a company has 20% of its current liabilities covered by cash and cash equivalents. While this may not be considered high, the adequacy of the ratio depends on various factors such as industry norms, business model, and specific circumstances of the company.

What is the difference between cash ratio and quick ratio?

Both the cash ratio and quick ratio are liquidity ratios used to assess a company's ability to meet short-term obligations. However, the key difference lies in the components considered. While the cash ratio includes only cash and cash equivalents, the quick ratio incorporates cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities, providing a more immediate liquidity assessment.

How do I calculate cash ratio?

To calculate the cash ratio, divide a company's cash and cash equivalents by its current liabilities. This ratio provides insights into a company's ability to cover its short-term obligations with its readily available assets.

What is cash ratio called?

Cash ratio is also known as the cash asset ratio or cash coverage ratio. It measures the proportion of a company's liquid assets, such as cash and cash equivalents, to its current liabilities.

How do you calculate cash on cash ratio?

The cash-on-cash ratio is determined by dividing a property's net operating income (NOI) by its initial cash investment. This ratio is commonly used in real estate investment analysis to evaluate the return on invested capital.

What is the best cash ratio?

The optimal cash ratio varies depending on factors such as industry, business model, and economic conditions. Generally, a higher cash ratio indicates better liquidity and financial stability, but excessively high ratios may suggest underutilization of assets.

Why is the cash ratio calculated?

The cash ratio is calculated to assess a company's liquidity and ability to meet its short-term financial obligations without relying on external financing or asset liquidation. It helps investors and creditors evaluate the company's financial health and risk exposure.

How to improve the cash ratio?

To enhance the cash ratio, companies can focus on increasing cash reserves through efficient cash management practices, such as optimizing working capital, reducing expenses, improving accounts receivable collection, and minimizing unnecessary spending. Additionally, generating higher profits and reducing debt can also contribute to improving the cash ratio.

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Disclaimer

Bajaj Finance Limited (“BFL”) is an NBFC offering loans, deposits and third-party wealth management products.

The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute any financial advice. The content herein has been prepared by BFL on the basis of publicly available information, internal sources and other third-party sources believed to be reliable. However, BFL cannot guarantee the accuracy of such information, assure its completeness, or warrant such information will not be changed. 

This information should not be relied upon as the sole basis for any investment decisions. Hence, User is advised to independently exercise diligence by verifying complete information, including by consulting independent financial experts, if any, and the investor shall be the sole owner of the decision taken, if any, about suitability of the same.