Financial Ratios: A Guide to Library Resources

Financial ratios show the relationship of one item of a company's financial statement to another item. They are used to assess aspects of profitability, solvency and liquidity. Financial ratios for industries (or industry norms) reflect the average value

Finding General Industry Ratios or Industry Norms

The most useful general ratios are:


  • Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Annual. WILS BUS Quarto HF5681 .R25 A45

    The source of data is tax returns filed with the U. S. Internal Revenue Service. The most recent edition provides data on millions of U.S. corporations. It provides 50 performance indicators for each industry, and at the end of each industry section, performance indicators for the last 10 years are shown. Data are grouped into 13 categories by size of assets in each industry. About 180 lines of business are covered.

    The Almanac provides norms in actual dollar amounts for revenue and capital factors such as net receivables, inventories, total assets, and it gives you important average operating costs in percent of net sales for: cost of operations, pensions and benefits, compensation of officers, wages and salaries, taxes and more. We have been receiving the annual editions of the Almanac since 1973.


  • New York, NY: Dun & Bradstreet. Annual. WILS BUS Quarto HF5681 .R25 I5

    This five volume set contains the most comprehensive industry coverage (including over 800 lines of business). The volumes in the set are: 1) Agriculture, Mining, Construction, Transportation, Communication, Utilities; 2) Manufacturing; 3) Wholesaling; 4) Retailing; 5) Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Services.

    Ratios are arranged by SIC number, and sub-divided into four geographic areas of the U. S. (at the 2-digit level) and into three to five asset size ranges (at the four digit level).

    For each SIC number covered, the following data is provided: 1) fourteen key business ratios that can be used to analyze solvency, efficiency and profitability, 2) typical balance sheets and income statements for the industry (in dollars), and 3) common-size financial figures (each item of the financial statement as a percentage of its respective aggregate total). The source of data is the Dun & Bradstreet Financial Database. We have been receiving the annual volumes in this set in the Library since 1979.


  • Evanston, Ill.: Schonfeld and Associates. Annual. WILS BUS Quarto HF5681 .R25 I27x

    These industry ratios are based on the most recently available income statement and balance sheet data compiled by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States Department of the Treasury. There are 79 ratios or averages given for each industry. We have been receiving this annual publication in the Library regularly since 1991.


  • Philadelphia, PA: Risk Management Association. Annual. WILS BUS Quarto HF5681 .B2 R6

    This publication is a product of the commercial banking community and RMA (now Risk Management Association, formerly Robert Morris Associates), the association of lending and credit risk professionals. Over 500 lines of business are covered. Current and comparative historical data are included. Financial statements on each industry are shown in common size form. Sixteen widely used business ratios follow the financial statements.

    Each RMA Annual Statement Studies volume has a section at the front of the volume that gives good definitions of each of the ratios and shows how each was computed. Each volume also has a section at the back called *Sources of Composite Financial Data--A Bibliography* that identifies other major sources of composite financial data for industries. We have been receiving the RMA annual volumes in the Library since 1927.

Other General Ratios

Cost of Capital
Provides industry financial information relating to revenues, profitability, equity returns, ratios, capital structure, cost of equity and weighted average cost of capital. Arranged by SIC code. Provides data on over 300 U S based industries. The main provider of data for Cost of Capital is the Standard & Poors Compustat Data. 
• Location(s): TC Wilson Library Business Reference Quarto HC110.C3 C67 Non-Circulating 
• Check MNCAT Record for Location and Availability

Do It Yourself! Produce Your Own Ratios

CompactD SEC
CompactD SEC provides reports on publicly held companies. Company profiles include descriptions, address, state of incorporation, stock exchange, ticker symbol, primary and secondary SIC codes, number of shareholders, number of shares outstanding, number of employees, etc. The bulk of each report is comprised of financial information taken from the quarterly and annual financial statements including key ratios, and summary stock price, ownership and dividend figures with previous 5 year comparison data. Data is compiled from SEC filings. Because the same format is used on all the disks, you can use them to get a series of statistical data on corporations in the U.S. from the 1980s through 2003. CDROM is only available on Business Reference workstations. 
• Location(s): Please email for access details

Definitions of Ratios: What does it all mean?

Do you need to know how the ratios are computed or what they can be used to evaluate? Information on how the ratios are constructed and what they can be used to measure are included in the following sources:

  • Check these:

    Good definitions of ratios appear at the front of each volume of the RMA STATEMENT STUDIES in the *Definition of Ratios* section [WILS REF Quarto HF5681 .B R6] and at the front of the IRS CORPORATE FINANCIAL RATIOS [WILS REF Quarto HF5681 .R25 I27x].

    Other books on ratio analysis and financial statement analysis include:


    • Subramanyam, K. R. 
      Financial statement analysis / K.R. Subramanyam, John J. Wild. Boston : McGraw-Hill Irwin, c2009.
      TC Wilson Library Reserve HF5681.B2 W4963 2009
      [Contributor biographical information ]-- 
      [Publisher description ]-- 
      [Table of contents only ]-- 


    • Bull, Richard. 
      Financial ratios : how to use financial ratios to maximise value and success for your business / Richard Bull. Burlington, MA : Elsevier, c2008. 
      TC Wilson Library HF5681.R25 B85 2008 Regular Loan 


    • Palepu, Krishna G., 1954- 
      Business analysis & valuation : using financial statements / Krishna G. Palepu, Paul M. Healy. Mason, OH : Thomson/South-Western, c2008.
      TC Wilson Library Reserve Quarto HF5681.V3 P295 2008


    • Bragg, Steven M. 
      Financial analysis : a controller's guide / Steven M. Bragg. Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley, c2007.
      TC Wilson Library HG4026 .B663 2007


    • Fraser, Lyn M. 
      Understanding financial statements / Lyn M. Fraser, Aileen Ormiston. Upper Saddle River, N.J. : Pearson/Prentice Hall, c2007.
      TC Wilson Library Reference HF5681.B2 F764 2007
      [Table of contents ]-- 


    • Kline, Brian. 
      How to read and understand financial statements when you don't know what you are looking at / by Brian Kline. Ocala, Fla. : Atlantic Pub., c2007.
      TC Wilson Library HF5681.B2 K555 2007


    • Stickney, Clyde P., 1944- 
      Financial reporting, financial statement analysis, and valuation : a strategic perspective / Clyde P. Stickney, Paul R. Brown, James M. Wahlen. Mason, OH : Thomson/South-Western, c2007.
      TC Wilson Library HF5635 .S857 2007


    • Berman, Karen, 1962- 
      Financial intelligence : a manager's guide to knowing what the numbers really mean / Karen Berman and Joe Knight ; with John Case. Boston : Harvard Business School Press, c2006.
      TC Wilson Library HG4028.B2 B422 2006
      [Table of contents ]-- 


    • Peterson Drake, Pamela, 1954- 
      Analysis of financial statements / Pamela P. Peterson, Frank J. Fabozzi. Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, c2006.
      TC Wilson Library HG4026 .P463 2006


    • Epstein, Lita. 
      Reading financial reports for dummies / by Lita Epstein. Hoboken, NJ : Wiley Pub., c2005.
      TC Wilson Library HF5681.B2 E67 2005


    • Kwok, Benny K. B. 
      Accounting irregularities in financial statements : a definitive guide for litigators, auditors, and fraud investigators / Benny K.B. Kwok. Aldershot, Hants, England ; Burlington, VT : Gower, c2005.
      TC Wilson Library HF5686.C7 K85 2005
      [Table of contents ]-- 
Last Updated: Jun 6, 2022 12:05 PM