What is the quick ratio?

A quick ratio, or acid-test ratio, identifies a company’s short-term liquidity position. It measures its ability to meet its immediate financial obligations, excluding inventory, using its most liquid assets. The formula for the quick ratio is (Cash + Cash Equivalents + Marketable Securities + Accounts Receivable) divided by Current Liabilities. It is one of the important ratio in ratio analysis.

In general, a quick ratio of 1 or higher indicates that a company has sufficient liquid assets to cover its short-term liabilities. It’s a valuable indicator for assessing a company’s financial health.

Quick ratio formula


The quick ratio (acid-test ratio) is a financial ratio that helps assess a company’s ability to meet short-term financial obligations. The formula for the quick ratio is as follows: (Cash + Cash Equivalents + Marketable Securities + Accounts Receivable) divided by Current Liabilities.

It focuses on a company’s most liquid assets while excluding inventory, which may be less easily converted to cash. It serves as an important indicator of a company’s liquidity position and its ability to handle unexpected financial demands in the short term.

Quick assets includes

  1. Cash: Physical currency and coins held by the company.
  2. Cash Equivalents: Highly liquid and short-term investments that can be readily converted into cash, such as treasury bills or money market funds.
  3. Marketable Securities: Investments in easily tradable financial instruments, such as stocks or bonds, that can be converted into cash quickly.
  4. Accounts Receivable: Amounts owed to the company by its customers for goods or services already delivered, which can be collected and converted into cash.

What is a good quick ratio?

It is typically determined by the industry and the company’s specific circumstances. However, a general rule of thumb is that a quick ratio of 1 or higher is considered favorable. This suggests that the company has enough liquid assets to cover its short-term liabilities.

Above 1 indicates a stronger ability to meet immediate financial obligations. However, it’s important to consider industry norms and the company’s circumstances. Some industries may require higher quick ratios due to their nature, while others may be more forgiving. Comparisons with industry peers can provide further context in evaluating the quick ratio.

Quick ratio vs Current ratio

MetricQuick RatioCurrent Ratio
DefinitionMeasures short-term liquidity using highly liquid assets (excluding inventory).Measures short-term liquidity using all current assets.
Formula(Cash + Cash Equivalents + Marketable Securities + Accounts Receivable) / Current LiabilitiesCurrent Assets / Current Liabilities
FocusEmphasizes immediate liquidity and ability to meet short-term obligations.Considers all current assets, including inventory.
InclusionExcludes inventory and focuses on the most liquid assets.Includes inventory along with other current assets.
InterpretationA ratio of 1 or higher is generally considered favorable. Indicates ability to cover short-term obligations without relying on inventory.A ratio above 1 suggests a company has sufficient assets to cover short-term liabilities. However, it includes inventory, which may not be as liquid as other assets.
ApplicabilityUseful for businesses with low inventory turnover or those heavily reliant on accounts receivable.Suitable for companies with high inventory turnover or those where inventory plays a significant role in operations.
Quick ratio vs Current ratio

Practical application of quick ratio

The acid-test ratio, has practical applications in evaluating a company’s short-term liquidity and financial health. One practical application is assessing a company’s ability to handle unexpected financial challenges or meet immediate payment obligations. For example, let’s consider a retail company that experiences a sudden downturn in sales. This situation may result in reduced cash flow and difficulties in meeting its current liabilities.

By calculating the ratio, the company can determine if it has enough liquid assets, such as cash, marketable securities, and accounts receivable, to cover its immediate liabilities, excluding inventory.

Suppose the retail company calculates a ratio of 1.5, indicating it has $1.50 of quick assets for every $1 of current liabilities. This suggests the company is in a favorable position to handle short-term obligations without relying heavily on inventory. On the other hand, if the quick ratio is below 1, it could imply a potential liquidity issue, requiring the company to explore strategies to improve its cash position.

By regularly monitoring the quick ratio, companies can identify potential liquidity risks, make informed decisions about managing their cash flow, and take necessary steps to maintain a healthy financial position.

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