The balance sheet is a very important financial statement for many reasons.  It can be looked at on its own, and in conjunction with other statements like the income statement and cash flow statement to get a full picture of a company’s health.

4 important takeaways include:

  • Liquidity – Comparing a company’s current assets to its current liabilities provides a picture of liquidity.  Current assets should be greater than current liabilities so the company can cover its short-term obligations. The Current Ratio and Quick Ratio are examples of liquidity financial metrics.
  • Leverage – Looking at how a company is financed indicates how much leverage it has, which in turn indicates how much financial risk the company is taking. Comparing debt to equity and debt to total capital are common ways of assessing leverage on the balance sheet.
  • Efficiency – By using the income statement in connection with the balance sheet it’s possible to assess how efficiently a company uses its assets.  For example, dividing revenue into fixed assets produces the Asset Turnover Ratio to indicate how efficiently the company turns assets into revenue. Additionally, the working capital cycle shows how well a company manages its cash in the short term.
  • Rates of Return – The balance sheet can be used to evaluate how well a company generates returns. For example, dividing net income into shareholders’ equity produces Return on Equity (ROE), and dividing net income into total assets produces Return on Assets (ROA), and dividing net income into debt plus equity results in Return on Invested Capital (ROIC).