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Limitation of Ratio Analysis

Limitation of Ratio Analysis
Learning Objective
Explain to the participants on the limitation of ratio analysis.
Important Terms
Creative accounting.
Accounting Policies.
As we have alredy discussed, it is important to compare in order to be able to analyse and to be able to comment and subsequently recommend in order that a business is as efficient as possible.
Limitations of Ratios
Accounting Information
Different Accounting PoliciesThe choices of accounting policies may distort inter company comparisons. Example IAS 16 allows valuation of assets to be based on either revalued amount or at depreciated historical cost. The business may opt not to revalue its asset because by doing so the depreciation charge is going to be high and will result in lower profit.
Creative accounting The businesses apply creative accounting in trying to show the better financial performance or position which can be misleading to the users of financial accounting. Like the IAS 16 mentioned above, requires that if an asset is revalued and there is a revaluation deficit, it has to be charged as an expense in income statement, but if it results in revaluation surplus the surplus should be credited to revaluation reserve. So in order to improve on its profitability level the company may select in its revaluation programme to revalue only those assets which will result in revaluation surplus leaving those with revaluation deficits still at depreciated historical cost.
Information problems
Ratios are not definitive measuresRatios need to be interpreted carefully. They can provide clues to the company’s performance or financial situation. But on their own, they cannot show whether performance is good or bad.Ratios require some quantitative information for an informed analysis to be made.
Outdated information in financial statementThe figures in a set of accounts are likely to be at least several months out of date, and so might not give a proper indication of the company’s current financial position.
Historical costs not suitable for decision making IASB Conceptual framework recommends businesses to use historical cost of accounting. Where historical cost convention is used, asset valuations in the balance sheet could be misleading. Ratios based on this information will not be very useful for decision making.
Financial statements certain summarised informationRatios are based on financial statements which are summaries of the accounting records. Through the summarisation some important information may be left out which could have been of relevance to the users of accounts. The ratios are based on the summarised year end information which may not be a true reflection of the overall year’s results.
Interpretation of the ratioIt is difficult to generalise about whether a particular ratio is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. For example a high current ratio may indicate a strong liquidity position, which is good or excessive cash which is bad. Similarly Non current assets turnover ratio may denote either a firm that uses its assets efficiently or one that is under capitalised and cannot afford to buy enough assets.
Comparison of performance over time
Price changesInflation renders comparisons of results over time misleading as financial figures will not be within the same levels of purchasing power. Changes in results over time may show as if the enterprise has improved its performance and position when in fact after adjusting for inflationary changes it will show the different picture.
Technology changesWhen comparing performance over time, there is need to consider the changes in technology. The movement in performance should be in line with the changes in technology. For ratios to be more meaningful the enterprise should compare its results with another of the same level of technology as this will be a good basis measurement of efficiency.
Changes in Accounting policyChanges in accounting policy may affect the comparison of results between different accounting years as misleading. The problem with this situation is that the directors may be able to manipulate the results through the changes in accounting policy. This would be done to avoid the effects of an old accounting policy or gain the effects of a new one. It is likely to be done in a sensitive period, perhaps when the business’s profits are low.
Changes in Accounting standardAccounting standards offers standard ways of recognising, measuring and presenting financial transactions. Any change in standards will affect the reporting of an enterprise and its comparison of results over a number of years.
Impact of seasons on tradingAs stated above, the financial statements are based on year end results which may not be true reflection of results year round. Businesses which are affected by seasons can choose the best time to produce financial statements so as to show better results. For example, a tobacco growing company will be able to show good results if accounts are produced in the selling season. This time the business will have good inventory levels, receivables and bank balances will be at its highest. While as in planting seasons the company will have a lot of liabilities through the purchase of farm inputs, low cash balances and even nil receivables.
Inter-firm comparison
Different financial and business risk profileNo two companies are the same, even when they are competitors in the same industry or market. Using ratios to compare one company with another could provide misleading information. Businesses may be within the same industry but having different financial and business risk. One company may be able to obtain bank loans at reduced rates and may show high gearing levels while as another may not be successful in obtaining cheap rates and it may show that it is operating at low gearing level. To un informed analyst he may feel like company two is better when in fact its low gearing level is because it can not be able to secure further funding.
Different capital structures and sizeCompanies may have different capital structures and to make comparison of performance when one is all equity financed and another is a geared company it may not be a good analysis.
Impact of Government influenceSelective application of government incentives to various companies may also distort intercompany comparison. One company may be given a tax holiday while the other within the same line of business not, comparing the performance of these two enterprises may be misleading.
Window dressingThese are techniques applied by an entity in order to show a strong financial position. For example, MZ Trucking can borrow on a two year basis, K10 Million on 28th December 2003, holding the proceeds as cash, then pay off the loan ahead of time on 3rd January 2004. This can improve the current and quick ratios and make the 2003 balance sheet look good. However the improvement was strictly window dressing as a week later the balance sheet is at its old position.
Ratio analysis is useful, but analysts should be aware of these problems and make adjustments as necessary. Ratios analysis conducted in a mechanical, unthinking manner is dangerous, but if used intelligently and with good judgement, it can provide useful insights into the firm’s operations.

Advantage And Disadvantage Of Fixed Budget Accounting Essay

However from a bird’s- eye view, budget can be defined as a management tools that put the managers in control of a finical health of the organisation. The objective of the budget is to measure of the financial structure of the organisation and budget is a tool that forces management to be accountable in a structured and objective way. How manager manage the budget is key to their value. Budget facilities the planning and resources allocation and help to estimate, itemised, analysis and examined the entire product and service that organisation offers to customer. (Seer, 2000, p.187).
Budgeting is a simple process of consolidating budget and adhere them as closely as possible (Maitland,2000). It is a process turns manager attitudes forward looking to the future and planning; managers are able to anticipate and react accordingly to the potential problem before it arises. Budgeting process allows manager to focus on the opportunities instead of figuratively. The budget system provides sustainability to business process within an organisation. It is an utmost important process to the management. In other word by some researchers “few business plan to fail but many of those that collapsed failed to plan” (Horngren, C. et al., 2000)
The aim of budgeting is to give management an idea how well the organisation is projecting the income goals and how well the organisation managing the working capital. The budgeting exercise should able to increase the profit, reduce inappropriate expenses and it also helps to expand the markets (Thomsett, 1988, p.5). To achieve the budgeting aim, the management needs to build a budgeting system (Viscione , J. 1984).
A budget system varies from organisation to organisation and it is not unitary concept. The fundamental concept of budget system involves estimating future performance of the organisation, comparing the actual performance to the budget and analysis the deviation of actual result against the budget. The factors that determining the type or style of an organisation depend on the type of organisation, the leadership style, the method of preparation and desired result (Cherrington