Definition of 'Profitability Ratios'
A class of financial metrics that are used to assess a business's ability to generate earnings as compared to its expenses and other relevant costs incurred during a specific period of time. For most of these ratios, having a higher value relative to a competitor's ratio or the same ratio from a previous period is indicative that the company is doing well.
Investopedia explains 'Profitability Ratios'
Some examples of profitability ratios are profit margin, return on assets and return on equity. It is important to note that a little bit of background knowledge is necessary in order to make relevant comparisons when analyzing these ratios.
For instance, some industries experience seasonality in their operations. The retail industry, for example, typically experiences higher revenues and earnings for the Christmas season. Therefore, it would not be too useful to compare a retailer's fourth-quarter profit margin with its first-quarter profit margin. On the other hand, comparing a retailer's fourth-quarter profit margin with the profit margin from the same period a year before would be far more informative.
Profitability ratios are the most popular metrics used in financial analysis. Read the short guide on Profitability Indicator Ratios: Introduction.