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Ratios, Averages, and Benchmarks

Public Company Ratios Industry Ratios (Averages)

S&P Capital IQ
Access: UCI - Authorized Affiliates
Geography: Global

Downloadable public company ratios and valuation multiples, going back several years.  Data available in both quarterly and annual increments.  


Value Line
Access: UCI
Geography: US

Research and recommendations on approximately 1,700 stocks, including ratios used for valuation.  


Access: UCI
Geography: US

Industry ratios, organized by NAICS code in the US Industry Reports, are available for the current year and the last three years.  


Key Business Ratios
Access: UCI
Geography: US

Data from Dun & Bradstreet.  Industry ratios organized by SIC code, available from the last four years.

What if I can't find a ratio?

Hundreds of ratios exist to describe all nuances of a company's activity. 
Databases usually only feature a couple dozen of the most popular ratios. 
You may need to manually calculate a ratio if you don't see it in a database's ratio list. 

Try the eBook Business Ratios and Formulas: A Comprehensive Guide to find formulas. 


What's a ratio?
A ratio is calculated from two or more figures, usually taken from the financial statements of a company, in order to provide an indication of the financial performance and position of that company. Ratios may be expressed:

  • as a percentage (e.g. return on capital employed)
  • in days (e.g. debtor collection period)
  • as a multiple (e.g. rate of turnover)

Ratios may also be calculated over a period, so as to enable an analysis of trends to be formulated, or compared to other similar companies or industry averages.

A Dictionary of Accounting- "Financial Statement Analysis"
A Dictionary of Business and Management- "Accounting Ratio"


What other ratios are out there besides financial ratios?    
Technically speaking, every department could produce ratios to approximate performance.  Some may be more insightful than others; a ratio of dirty dishes in the breakroom vs. number of employees might indicate how tidy a department is.  Ratio information may be related to operational considerations within the department, the financial condition of the entire company, or the performance of a company's suppliers and customers. 

Source: Business Ratios and Formulas:  A Comprehensive Guide


What's the difference between ratios and other jargon like benchmarks and averages?  

The words ratios, averages, and benchmarks are sometimes used interchangeably. 

  • Benchmarks: basically, the practice of comparing your company's performance against the average performance of competitors in the same industry
  • Averages: basically, the data that results from the averaging (i.e. calculating the mean), of any given ratio(s)across multiple companies operating in the same industry
  • If you know the averages for your industry, you can benchmark your company's own ratios against your competition. 

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