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Acid Test: 5 things you need to be aware of

Updated: Apr 9

The acid test, also known as the quick ratio, is a financial metric that helps evaluate a company's short-term financial health. It does so by measuring its ability to use near-cash assets to cover current liabilities.

Acid test ratio formula is current assets less inventory divided by current liabilities

A ratio greater than 1.0 indicates good liquidity, as it means the company has enough liquid assets to cover its current liabilities.

However, an extremely high ratio may suggest inefficient use of cash or excessive accounts receivables (collection problem).

A ratio below 1.0 indicates caution, as the company lacks sufficient liquid assets.

This ratio can provide valuable insights into a company's liquidity, but there are five crucial aspects you should keep in mind when using it.

1. Inventory is ignored

The acid test ratio is more conservative than the current ratio because it excludes inventory. Inventory can be slow-moving and challenging to convert into cash quickly.

By leaving it out, the acid test avoids the complexity of valuing inventory and provides a clearer picture of a company's immediate financial strength.

2. Seasonal fluctuations may be overlooked

Some businesses deal with seasonal inventory, which can affect liquidity.

Excluding seasonal inventory helps in avoiding fluctuations and provides a more accurate assessment.

However, this approach may not suit all business models, like supermarkets or retail, where inventory turnover is rapid, making it a short-term asset.

3. Timing and level of cash flows are not considered

The acid test ratio does not account for the timing and amount of cash flows, essential for assessing a company's ability to meet its obligations when they come due.

Understanding cash flow generation is vital for evaluating liquidity, and this ratio does not provide that insight.

The limitation of quick ratio is the timing and level of cash flows are not considered.

4. Assumption about accounts receivable

The acid test ratio assumes accounts receivable are easily convertible to cash. This is not the case for every company as some may take longer to collect payments.

Also, during a market downturn, accounts receivable and other current assets such as marketable securities may face difficulties in trading and collection.

This highlights the potential discrepancy between the ratio's assumption and the actual liquidity scenario.

5. Comprehensive analysis is key

Relying solely on the acid test ratio may not offer a complete understanding of a company's financial health. It is essential to consider other factors, such as cash flow and industry benchmarks, for a more accurate analysis.

Different industries have unique requirements for current assets, making it important to assess a company's liquidity within its industry context.


The acid test ratio is a valuable tool for assessing a company's short-term financial standing. By focusing on the most liquid assets and excluding inventory, it offers insights into a company's ability to meet immediate obligations. However, it has limitations, such as not considering cash flows.

A comprehensive analysis that incorporates other liquidity ratios, and industry benchmarks is necessary for a more accurate assessment of a company's liquidity.


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