Profitability Indicator Ratios: Return On Assets
By Richard Loth (Contact  Biography)
This ratio indicates how profitable a company is relative to its total assets. The return on assets (ROA) ratio illustrates how well management is employing the company's total assets to make a profit. The higher the return, the more efficient management is in utilizing its asset base. The ROA ratio is calculated by comparing net income to average total assets, and is expressed as a percentage.
Formula:
Components:
As of December 31, 2005, with amounts expressed in millions, Zimmer Holdings had net income of $732.50 (income statement), and average total assets of $5,708.70 (balance sheet). By dividing, the equation gives us an ROA of 12.8% for FY 2005.
Variations:
Some investment analysts use the operatingincome figure instead of the netincome figure when calculating the ROA ratio.
Commentary:
The need for investment in current and noncurrent assets varies greatly among companies. Capitalintensive businesses (with a large investment in fixed assets) are going to be more asset heavy than technology or service businesses.
In the case of capitalintensive businesses, which have to carry a relatively large asset base, will calculate their ROA based on a large number in the denominator of this ratio. Conversely, noncapitalintensive businesses (with a small investment in fixed assets) will be generally favored with a relatively high ROA because of a low denominator number.
It is precisely because businesses require differentsized asset bases that investors need to think about how they use the ROA ratio. For the most part, the ROA measurement should be used historically for the company being analyzed. If peer company comparisons are made, it is imperative that the companies being reviewed are similar in product line and business type. Simply being categorized in the same industry will not automatically make a company comparable. Illustrations (as of FY 2005) of the variability of the ROA ratio can be found in such companies as General Electric, 2.3%; Proctor & Gamble, 8.8%; and Microsoft, 18.0%.
As a rule of thumb, investment professionals like to see a company's ROA come in at no less than 5%. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. An important one would apply to banks, which strive to record an ROA of 1.5% or above.
Profitability Indicator Ratios: Return On Equity
RELATED TERMS

Dividend
A distribution of a portion of a company's earnings, decided ... 
Sharpe Ratio
A ratio developed by Nobel laureate William F. Sharpe to measure ... 
Investment Income Ratio
The ratio of an insurance company’s net investment income to ... 
Combined Ratio
A measure of profitability used by an insurance company to indicate ... 
Policyholder Dividend Ratio
The policyholder dividend ratio is a measurement of the profitability ... 
Return On Policyholder Surplus
The ratio of an insurance company’s net income to its policyholder ...

What information should I look at on a publicly traded company for use in fundamental ...
Learn what information is important in fundamental analysis of a publicly traded company and how to use it to assess the ... 
Why is it important for an investor to understand business accounting?
Learn to understand why it is important for an investor to understand business accounting to perform investment and credit ... 
How is an accrued interest entry made in accounting?
Learn how to create common journal entries for accrued interest, including adjusting entries and delayed bond issues sold ... 
What is the formula for calculating EBITDA?
Learn about EBITDA and how companies can manipulate this calculation to look more profitable.