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Research Ratios

What is a key business ratio?

Key business ratios measure, illustrate, and summarize a company's financial data with its competitors or peers. This comparison can provide an accurate picture of a company's financial health and its standing in the industry.

Solvency Ratios
Measure the financial soundness of a business and how well a company can satisfy its short and long-term obligations.
Efficiency Ratios
Measure a company's short-term ability to turn current assets into income.
Probability Ratios
Measure how well a company is performing by analyzing how profit was earned relative to sales, total assets, and net worth.

Before you start: Things to consider

  • Watch the not-so-secret codes. Most databases use SIC or NAICS industry codes. Some will link to code lists to help you find the code that corresponds to your industry. See our Understand Industry Classification Codes guide for tips on finding and using the codes.
  • It's all in the numbers. SIC and NAICS codes go from broad 2-digit codes to more specific 4-digit (SIC) and 6-digit (NAICS) codes. If you can't find information for a specific code, use another database that may include your industry or broaden the industry (for example, medical devices instead of glucose monitors).
  • Watch the descriptions. If your company operates in multiple industries (for example, Proctor & Gamble or Walt Disney Company), you can use the primary industry code found in a company report, or you can choose the industry that you are most interested in. 
  • Apples to apples. Not all databases have the same ratios. Check multiple databases to compare the ratios offered. If you are gathering ratios from multiple sources, be sure to check the dates and data from which the ratios are derived to ensure you are comparing similar data.

Finding Ratios

The good news is that the library has several sources that provide business ratios. However, not every database covers every industry to the detail you may want or the specific company you may need. You might need to consult multiple sources before you find the information you are seeking. All of the databases recommended below allow you to download data into Microsoft Excel.

D&B Key Business Ratios offers both company and industry ratios. From the homepage, select the Ratios link in top menu (in the top right corner in most browsers).

Industry ratios:

  1. Select the Industry link from the left side menu.
  2. Browse through the SIC codes in the drop-down menu OR enter a keyword or NAICS code in the NAICS box.
  3. Toggle between the Solvency, Efficiency, and Profitability boxes at the top of the page to see relevant ratios in those categories.

Company ratios: 

  1. Select the Company link from the left side menu.
  2. Browse through the SIC codes in the drop-down menu OR enter a keyword or NAICS code in the NAICS box.
  3. You can select a company link to see that specific company's ratios, or you can toggle between the Solvency, Efficiency, and Profitability boxes at the top of the page to see relevant ratios in those categories.
  1. Start on the IBISWorld homepage. Enter the name of the industry or NAICS code in the Search box.
  2. Select the industry as it appears under the search box. An industry report will appear.
  3. From the table of contents, under Financial Benchmarks, select the Key Ratios section of the report.
  4. Use the CSV download link under the list of ratios within the industry to download into a spreadsheet format.

Gale Business: Insights allows you to find individual company ratios and compare them to major or selected competitors, then export the information to Microsoft Excel.

  1. On the homepage, type a company name in the search box. Select your company under the Company Profiles heading.
  2. On the company profile page, find the Ratios box and click the All Ratios heading.  
  3. On this page, you will find the full list of company ratios. You can add up to three additional companies for a side-by-side ratio comparison to get a bigger picture of industry conditions.
  4. Click on the Download Data button to download the reports in Excel format.

Mergent Online offers historical ratios for companies that can be downloaded into Microsoft Excel or printed.

  1. From the homepage, enter the name of the company you wish to research.
  2. On the company page, select the Company financials tab and then select the Ratios link.

Plunkett Research Online offers individual company ratios and options to compare to industry averages or other companies. The information is available as a PDF or exportable to Microsoft Excel.

  1. On the homepage, select Research a Company.
  2. Enter the company name in the general search box.
  3. Click on the company name from the list.
  4. Scroll down to the financial information and click on the Compare to Industry Averages link for additional information.

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