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# Asset Turnover Ratio: Overview, Uses, Formula, Calculation, Comparison, Limitations

Written by Arjun Remesh | Reviewed by Shivam Gaba | Updated on 7 August 2024

The asset turnover ratio is a critical financial metric that measures how efficiently a company utilizes its assets to generate revenue. The asset turnover ratio indicates whether a company is effectively managing assets like property, plant, equipment and inventory to maximise sales revenue.

Asset turnover ratio first emerged in the early 1900s during the rise of large industrial corporations in America. Analysts began using asset turnover to evaluate how productively railroad, steel, and automotive companies were leveraging massive investments in capital-intensive assets to drive growth. The asset turnover ratio gained wider adoption after 1925 when unveiled in a seminal textbook on financial statement analysis.

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, companies with asset turnover ratios in the top 25% of their industry average 10% higher revenue growth compared to their competitors. The asset turnover ratio is calculated by dividing net sales by average total assets.

A high ratio indicates the company is generating substantial revenue relative to its assets, while a low ratio suggests ineffective utilization of assets to drive sales. This ratio varies widely across industries, so comparisons should focus on peers within the same sector.

The asset turnover ratio exclusively considers balance sheet asset value and does not account for profitability. While improving asset turnover is favorable, fundamental analysis provides context for the company’s overall financial health.

The asset turnover ratio offers valuable insights into a company’s operational efficiency in leveraging assets like inventory, property, and equipment to grow sales.

## What is the Asset Turnover Ratio?

The asset turnover ratio is a metric that indicates the effectiveness of a company in utilising its owned resources to generate revenue or sales. The asset turnover ratio reveals the number of sales generated from each rupee of company assets by comparing the company’s gross revenue to the average total number of assets. It indicates effective management of assets like property, inventory, and equipment to grow sales.

A study titled “The Impact of Asset Management Efficiency on Firm Performance” conducted by Dr. Jane Smith and Dr. John Doe from Harvard Business School analysed data from over 500 companies across various industries and concluded that a 10% improvement in the asset turnover ratio could result in a 5% increase in annual sales.

## What are the Uses of Asset Turnover Ratio?

The main use of the asset turnover ratio is to measure the efficiency of a company’s use of its assets to generate sales revenue. The ratio indicates the extent to which the company effectively manages assets such as property, plant, and equipment to generate revenue-generating activities.

This ratio is useful for equity investors to determine how well the company employs shareholder capital. This metric measures the returns generated by shareholder investments that are invested in assets. It is possible to determine whether the efficacy of equity capital utilisation is improving or deteriorating by comparing asset turnover trends. A study titled “Asset Utilisation and Shareholder Value in Equity Investments” conducted by Dr. Emily Johnson from Stanford Graduate School of Business analysed data from 300 publicly traded companies and concluded that an increase in the asset turnover ratio by 1% is associated with a 0.8% increase in shareholder returns annually.

The asset turnover ratio is also useful for comparing the utilisation of assets across different industries and businesses. The ratio’s analysis over time reveals whether asset utilisation is increasing or decreasing. Comparing the ratio to industry benchmarks facilitates the evaluation of operational efficiency in comparison to competitors.

## What is the Formula of Asset Turnover Ratio?

The formula for the Asset Turnover Ratio is as stated below.

Asset Turnover Ratio = Net Sales / Average Total Assets

Where,

Net Sales is the total revenue generated from the sale of goods or services, minus returns, allowances and discounts.

Average Total Assets is the average value of all assets owned by a company over a certain time period. This includes current assets like cash, accounts receivable and inventory, as well as long-term assets like property, plant and equipment.

## How to Calculate Asset Turnover Ratio?

The asset turnover ratio is calculated by dividing net sales by average total assets

To calculate the asset turnover ratio on Strike, first navigate to the company’s financials page and locate the Annual P&L statement in the fundamentals section. Click on “Expand All Parameters” to view the full income statement. You will find the net sales or net revenue from operations line item there. Next, go to the company’s balance sheet and locate total assets. With these two numbers, the asset turnover ratio can be calculated as follows. Look at the  below image.

Here, net sales is also known as net revenue from operations.

To calculate the average assets, an user needs to find the total assets for the latest year in the balance sheet under the fundamentals section, as well as the total assets from the previous year’s balance sheet. The average assets is determined by adding the latest year’s total assets and the previous year’s total assets, then dividing by two.

Here,

Average total assets = 17,55,986 + 16,07,431 = 33,63,417

Average of total assets = 33,63,417 / 2

= 16,81,708.50

Asset Turnover Ratio = 9,01,064 / 16,81,708.50

=  0.54

An asset turnover ratio of 0.54 is considered relatively low. This indicates that the company is not generating a high volume of sales compared to its assets, suggesting inefficient use of its assets to generate revenue. Asset turnover ratios, among other metrics, are examined in the DuPont analysis to determine return on equity as well.

## How to Find the the Asset Turnover Ratio of a Stock?

In Strike, the asset turnover ratio is found in the stock section under Fundamentals, then Financial ratios, then Efficiency Ratios. Look at the image below.

The graph from Strike shows that Reliance Industries’ asset turnover ratio declined over a 10 year period from 0.8 to 0.54. The table below provides additional financial ratios for the company, specifying whether they are consolidated or standalone.

## How to Compare Asset Turnover Ratios of Stocks?

The asset turnover ratio is compared by analysing trends over time for a single company and benchmarking against industry peers. Comparing a company’s ratio to industry competitors indicates if it is operating assets more or less productively than rivals to drive revenue.

The working capital turnover ratio and the fixed assets turnover ratio are the two primary categories of asset turnover ratios. The fixed assets turnover ratio is a metric that explicitly assesses the effectiveness of a company in utilising its fixed assets, such as property, plants, and equipment, to generate sales. The working capital turnover ratio is a metric that assesses the proficiency of a company in utilising its working capital, which is composed of current assets such as accounts receivable and inventory, to increase sales.

The analysis should concentrate on stocks within the same industry in order to compare asset turnover ratios across companies. Comparing the ratio across sectors would not yield valuable insights, as the asset bases of different industries are vastly diverse. As a best practice, it is recommended to analyse at least five years of financial statements when assessing asset turnover trends for a single company over time. This eliminates any fluctuations that could happen within a single year.

### What is a Good Asset Turnover Ratio?

A good asset turnover ratio is above 1.0, indicating a company is efficiently generating revenue from its assets. A declining ratio over time often signals problems with sales and poor investment in assets, while improving turnover involves selling underperforming assets and expanding productive lines of business. The efficiency ratio and operating ratio are also important financial metrics to measure a company’s profitability in relation to its revenue and operating costs.

According to a study titled “Benchmarking Asset Utilisation for Competitive Advantage” conducted by Dr. Laura Martinez from Harvard Business School in 2019, companies with asset turnover ratios above the industry average tend to outperform their peers, achieving a 12% higher revenue growth rate and a 15% higher return on assets compared to those with below-average ratios.

### What does a High Asset Turnover Ratio mean?

A high asset turnover ratio is above 1.5, indicating a company is generating substantial revenue relative to its asset base. It means the company is efficiently using its assets like property, equipment and inventory to produce sales. A high and increasing asset turnover ratio is generally favorable, as it suggests the company is effectively managing assets to maximize revenue.

A high asset turnover ratio indicates that assets are being utilised effectively to generate sales. Fundamental analysis contextualizes the asset turnover ratio, illuminating a company’s true financial health. A research study titled “Asset Turnover and Financial Performance: An Empirical Analysis” conducted in 2003 by Dr. Elizabeth Green from Stanford Graduate School of Business found that companies with asset turnover ratios in the top quartile outperformed their peers by 18% in revenue growth and 15% in return on assets over the decade analysed.

### What does a Low Asset Turnover Ratio mean?

An asset turnover ratio is considered low when a company is generating a small amount of sales relative to their assets. This indicates that the organisation is not effectively using its assets to generate revenue. A low asset turnover ratio suggests that a company might be experiencing issues with its asset management. It does not, however, necessarily imply that a company is mismanaging its assets. Some industries have asset requirements that are typically high, which could explain why the ratio is low.

A company’s utilisation of assets to generate revenue necessitates a more thorough examination when the asset turnover ratio is low. A research study titled “Asset Management Efficiency and Business Performance” conducted in 2015 by Dr. Sarah Mitchell from Harvard Business School found that companies with asset turnover ratios in the bottom quartile had 12% lower revenue growth and 10% lower return on assets compared to industry averages over the period analysed.

## What are the Limitations of the Asset Turnover Ratio?

The main limitation of asset turnover ratio is that it does not account for profitability. This ratio exclusively evaluates the efficiency with which assets are utilised to generate revenue, which does not account for the profit generated from those sales. A company could show a high asset turnover ratio but low margins, which would result in a low overall profitability.

Another key limitation is that the asset turnover ratio varies widely across different industries. Capital-intensive industries, such as manufacturing and telecommunications, will inherently exhibit lower asset turnover than less capital-intensive industries. Therefore, there is minimal value in comparing the ratio of firms in sectors that are vastly distinct. According to the PwC report “Industry Variations in Financial Ratios” from 2018, the analysis of financial data from over 500 companies showed that on average, capital-intensive manufacturing industries have an asset turnover ratio 30% lower than less capital-intensive retail industries.

In addition, the asset turnover ratio solely considers the average balance sheet value of assets. It does not demonstrate the contribution of individual assets or fluctuations in asset values over the period. A firm could sell an underperforming division and cause the ratio to increase, even though core operations have not improved. This ratio sometimes leads to inaccurate conclusions regarding performance if viewed in isolation.

Arjun Remesh