Financial Ratios - Business Risk Ratios

Business Risk - This is risk related a company's income variance. There is a simple method and more complex method:

I. Simple Method
The following four ratios represent the simple method of business risk calculations. Business risk is the risk of a company making less money, or worse, losing money if sales decrease. In the declining-sales environment, a company would lose money mainly because of its fixed costs. If a company only incurred variable costs, it would never have negative earnings. Unfortunately, all businesses have a component of fixed costs. Understanding a company's fixed-cost structure is crucial in the determination of its business risk. One of the main ratios used to evaluate business risk is the contribution margin ratio.

1. Contribution Margin Ratio
This ratio indicates the incremental profit resulting from a given dollar change of sales. If a company's contribution ratio is 20%, then a $50,000 decline in sales will result in a $10,000 decline in profits.

Formula 7.28

Contribution margin ratio = contribution 
                                          sales

                                         = 1 - (variable cost / sales)

2. Operation Leverage Effect (OLE)
The operating leverage ratio is used to estimate the percentage change in income and return on assets for a given percentage change in sales volume. Return on sales is the same as return on assets.

If a company has an OLE greater than 1, then operating leverage exists. If OLE is equal to 1 then all costs are variable, so a 10% increase in sales will increase the company's ROA by 10%.

Formula 7.29

Operation leverage effect = contribution margin ratio
                                          return on sales (ROS)

Where:
ROS = Percentage change in income (ROA) = OLE x % change in sales

3. Financial Leverage Effect (FLE)
Companies that use debt to finance their operations, thus creating a financial leverage effect and increasing the return to stockholders, represent an additional business risk if revenues vary. The financial leverage effect is used to quantify the effect of leverage within a company.

Formula 7.30

Financial leverage effect = operating income 
                                            net income

If a company has an FLE of 1.33, an increase of 50% in operating income would result in a 67% shift in net income.

4. Total Leverage Effect (TLE)
By combining the OLE and FLE, we get the total leverage effect (TLE), which is defined as:

Formula 7.31

Total leverage effect = OLE x FLE

In our previous example, sales increased by $50,000, the OLE was 20% and FLE was 1.33. The total leverage effect would be $13,333, i.e. net income would increase by $13,333 for every $50,000 in increased sales.

II. Complex Method
Business risk can be analyzed by simply looking at variations in sales and operating income (EBIT) over time. A more structured approach is to use some statistics. One common method is to gather a date set that's large enough (five to 10 years) to calculate the coefficient of variation.

With this approach:

- Business risk = standard deviation of operating income / mean of operating income
- Sales variability = standard deviation of sales / sales mean
- Another source of variability of operating income is the difference between fixed and variable cost. This is referred to as "operating leverage". A company with a large variable structure is less likely to create a loss if revenues decline. The calculation of variability of operating income is complex and beyond CFA level 1.

Look Out!

Note that it is unlikely that the exam will ask you to calculate any ratios relating to business risk that utilize statistics.

Financial Risk Ratios
Related Articles
  1. Career Education & Resources

    How Hard are the CFA Exams?

    Learn about the difficulty of the CFA exams with a description of the tests, some statistics on pass rates and suggestions that can help you pass the exams.
  2. Professionals

    What it Takes to be a Financial Analyst

    A financial analyst researches companies and economic conditions to make business, sector and industry recommendations.
  3. Career Education & Resources

    Financial Analyst: Career Path & Qualifications

    Read about what it takes to become a financial analyst in a corporation or securities firm, and learn how far you can rise in the profession.
  4. Career Education & Resources

    Financial Planner: Career Path & Qualifications

    Learn what education and certifications you need to become a financial planner, as well as the future prospects and earnings potential for financial planners.
  5. Career Education & Resources

    Where to Find Non-Profit Finance Jobs

    The non-profit sector offers a stable selection of jobs for those who seek other types of fulfillment from their jobs than just purely financial.
  6. Career Education & Resources

    Portfolio Manager: Career Path & Qualifications

    Learn about the basic requirements for getting hired as a portfolio manager, and discover how most professionals in the field rise into the position.
  7. Your Practice

    4 Professional Associations Advisors Should Join

    These four professional organizations are among the most respected and well known in the industry.
  8. Professionals

    Equity Research: Career Path and Qualifications

    Find out what equity research analysts do on a day-to-day basis, and learn more about the typical career progression for these securities professionals.
  9. Professionals

    What's on the CFA Level II Exam?

    The Chartered Financial Analyst Level II exam is the second of three tests that CFA candidates must pass.
  10. Professionals

    Financial Data Analyst: Career Path & Qualifications

    Learn more about the career options available to financial data analysts, and determine whether the profession is a good match for you.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Personal Financial Advisor

    Professionals who help individuals manage their finances by providing ...
  2. CFA Institute

    Formerly known as the Association for Investment Management and ...
  3. Chartered Financial Analyst - CFA

    A professional designation given by the CFA Institute (formerly ...
  4. Security Analyst

    A financial professional who studies various industries and companies, ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are the differences between a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Certified ...

    The differences between a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) are many, but comes down ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do I become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)?

    According to the CFA Institute, a person who holds a CFA charter is not a chartered financial analyst. The CFA Institute ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What types of positions might a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) hold?

    The types of positions that a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is likely to hold include any position that deals with large ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Who benefits the most from prepaid expenses?

    Prepaid expenses benefit both businesses and individuals. Prepaid expenses are the types of expenses that are bought or paid ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. If I am looking to get an Investment Banking job. What education do employers prefer? ...

    If you are looking specifically for an investment banking position, an MBA may be marginally preferable over the CFA. The ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can I still pass the CFA Level I if I do poorly in the ethics section?

    You may still pass the Chartered Financial Analysis (CFA) Level I even if you fare poorly in the ethics section, but don't ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Harry Potter Stock Index

    A collection of stocks from companies related to the "Harry Potter" series franchise. Created by StockPickr, this index seeks ...
  2. Liquidation Margin

    Liquidation margin refers to the value of all of the equity positions in a margin account. If an investor or trader holds ...
  3. Black Swan

    An event or occurrence that deviates beyond what is normally expected of a situation and that would be extremely difficult ...
  4. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  5. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
Trading Center