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Liquidity Ratio

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A liquidity ratio measures a company's ability to pay its bills. The denominator of a liquidity ratio is the company's current liabilities, i.e., obligations that the company must meet soon, usually within one year. The numerator of a liquidity ratio is part or all of current assets. Perhaps the most common liquidity ratio is the current ratio, or current assets/current liabilities. Because current assets are expected to be converted to cash within one year, this liquidity ratio includes assets and liabilities of equal longevity. The problem with the current ratio as a liquidity ratio is that inventories, a current asset, may not be converted to cash for several months, while many current liabilities must be paid within 90 days. Thus a more conservative liquidity ratio is the acid test ratio -- (current assets - inventory)/current liabilities -- which excludes relatively illiquid inventories. The most conservative liquidity ratio is the cash asset ratio or the cash ratio, which includes only cash and cash equivalents (usually marketable securities) in the numerator. Finally, note that the liquidity ratio sometimes means the cash ratio.

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