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Receivables Turnover Ratio: How to Calculate, Interpret, and Apply it to Your Business

Last updated 03/20/2024 by

Allan Du

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Fact checked by

Summary:
The accounts receivable turnover ratio measures how efficiently a company collects outstanding balances and how many times these receivables are converted to cash during a specific period. It is calculated by dividing net credit sales by the average accounts receivable, with a high ratio indicating that the company is efficient in collecting accounts receivable. Conversely, a low ratio can indicate issues with the collection process. The ratio can provide valuable insights into a company’s financial health and investors should be aware of the limitations when evaluating a business’s efficiency.
The accounts receivables turnover ratio is a term to describe how many times a company collects on its outstanding debts in a year. A high ratio means they’re doing a good job of collecting payments, while a low ratio indicates they may be struggling. \

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Understanding receivables turnover ratios

Accounts receivable represent a company’s unpaid bills, which are essentially interest-free loans extended to customers. The receivables turnover ratio measures how efficiently a company collects its outstanding balances and how many times these receivables are converted to cash during a specific period.
The ratio is calculated by dividing net credit sales by the average accounts receivable.
When a company extends credit to its customers, it creates revenue through net credit sales. This figure includes sales made on credit, minus any discounts or returns from customers. Cash sales, however, don’t factor into this calculation since they don’t involve any accounts receivable.
To calculate the accounts receivable turnover ratio, you’ll need to use net credit sales as the numerator. It’s vital to use a consistent time period for this figure, like a month or a quarter. And if any returns occur in the future, make sure to factor them in.
By understanding the role of net credit sales, you can better measure your company’s ability to collect on outstanding balances and improve your receivables turnover ratio.

What are average accounts receivables

The average accounts receivable balance is a key component of the accounts receivable turnover ratio. It represents the average amount of money owed to a company by its customers during a specific time period. While some companies can calculate this figure with ease, others may require more complex accounting systems.
It’s important to take into account any day-to-day changes that may affect the average and to use a consistent time period when calculating it. Ultimately, a high accounts receivable turnover ratio is indicative of a company’s efficiency in collecting outstanding balances from clients and managing its credit processes.

High vs. low receivables turnover ratio

High ratios

A high receivables turnover ratio suggests that a company is efficient in collecting accounts receivable and has quality customers who pay their debts promptly. It can also indicate that the company is cautious in extending credit, which helps avoid non-paying customers. However, too strict a credit policy can lead to missed business opportunities.

Low ratios

A low receivables turnover ratio be an indicator of some problems with a company’s collection process, bad credit policies, or financially unstable customers. This can lead to a delay in collecting receivables and a potential cash flow problem. However, improving the collection process can result in a positive influx of cash.
Sometimes a low ratio isn’t always bad, such as when there are issues with the distribution division that cause delayed deliveries, leading to late payments. It’s important to also consider the asset turnover ratio, which measures how efficiently a company uses its assets to generate revenue. A higher ratio means the company is more efficient while a low ratio indicates inefficiency in generating sales with its assets.
The importance of the receivables turnover ratio lies in the information it provides to a company. The ratio tells the company:
  • A high ratio indicates an efficient collection of credit sales and quicker access to capital.
  • Strong historical accounts receivable activity can increase a company’s opportunities for borrowing funds.
  • The ratio can also help a company project future cash flow and evaluate the creditworthiness of its clients.
  • Analyzing the ratio over time can provide insight into a company’s performance and trajectory.
  • Comparing the ratio to competitors in the same industry can reveal whether a company is an industry leader or falling behind.
When you compare accounts receivable turnover ratios, it’s important to consider businesses with similar business models to avoid skewed results due to differences in capital structure. It’s also good practise to track a single company’s ratio over time to evaluate the effectiveness of their collection plan and identify improvements.
Investors should be aware of the limitations of the receivables turnover ratio when evaluating a business’s efficiency. One common issue is when companies use total sales instead of net sales, which skews results and misrepresent the company’s true turnover ratio.
It’s important to understand how the ratio was calculated in order to evaluate it accurately. Another limitation is the fluctuation of accounts receivable throughout the year, particularly for seasonal companies.
Choosing the right values when calculating the average accounts receivable can provide a more accurate reflection of the company’s performance. To smooth out any existing seasonal gaps, investors can take an average of accounts receivable from each month during a 12-month period.
Let’s dive into an example of how the accounts receivable turnover ratio can provide valuable insights into a company’s financial health.

Example of receivables turnable ratio

Imagine that we have a company, Company A, with the following financial results for the year:
  • Net credit sales of $800,000.
  • $64,000 in accounts receivables on Jan. 1 or the beginning of the year.
  • $72,000 in accounts receivables on Dec. 31 or at the end of the year.
  • We can calculate the receivables turnover ratio in the following way:
ACR = ($64,000 + $72,000) / 2 = $68,000
ARTR= $800,000 / $68,000 = 11.76
where:
ACR = Average accounts receivable
ARTR = Accounts receivable turnover ratio
Let’s continue exploring the example of Company A to see how the accounts receivable turnover ratio can be used to gain valuable insights into a company’s financial health.
In this case, we can interpret the ratio to mean that Company A collected its receivables 11.76 times on average throughout the year. This means the company was able to convert its receivables to cash almost 12 times annually, indicating a relatively efficient collection process.
However, it’s important to note that this ratio is only useful when compared across time periods or different companies in the same industry. By comparing several years of data, Company A could determine whether its ratio of 11.76 is an improvement or a sign of a slower collection process.
We can also calculate the average duration of accounts receivable or the number of days it takes to collect them during the year by dividing 365 by the turnover ratio. In our example, the average duration is 31.04 days, which means it takes Company A roughly a month to collect its receivables. If the company has a 30-day payment policy for its customers, the ratio shows that, on average, customers are paying one day late.
This information could be used to improve the collection process by offering discounts to customers for early payment, for instance. Companies need to know their receivables turnover since it’s directly related to how much cash they have available to pay their short-term spending liabilities.

Is there an ideal accounts receivable turnover ratio?

The accounts receivable turnover ratio varies across industries, but a higher ratio is generally better. It indicates that a company is converting its receivables to cash more quickly, allowing for more cash to be available for operations or growth.

How the ratio can be improved

The ratio is primarily affected by net credit sales and accounts receivable and can be improved by being selective with credit sales and actively pursuing outstanding debts. It’s important to monitor and manage the ratio since it reflects the efficiency of a company’s collection process and its cash management, which can impact its short-term cash flow.
The accounts receivable turnover ratio is a crucial metric that reflects a company’s efficiency in collecting payments. A high ratio indicates that a company is converting its credit sales into cash quickly. However, it’s important to remember that external factors like uneven accounts receivable balances can affect the ratio’s accuracy. Understanding and tracking this ratio can be crucial for ensuring proper cash management and strategic growth for businesses.

Key takeaways

  • Accounts receivable turnover ratio measures how efficiently a company collects receivables from clients, showing how many times receivables are converted to cash during a period.
  • A high ratio suggests efficient collection practices with quality customers who pay debts quickly.
  • Conversely, a low ratio could result from inefficient collection processes, inadequate credit policies, or customers who are not creditworthy.
  • Investors should be careful, as some companies use total sales, rather than net sales, to calculate the ratio, which may inflate the results.

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Allan Du

Allan Du is a personal finance writer passionate about helping people take control of their finances. Allan strives to present readers with the right knowledge and tools, so they can make informed decisions about their money and build wealth. When he is not writing about finance, Allan enjoys pursuing his other interests, including powerlifting, kickboxing, and investing. He is an active follower of economic and political trends, always keeping watch on the latest developments that could impact the financial world.

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