What Is the Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio?

The accounts payable turnover ratio is a short-term liquidity measure used to quantify the rate at which a company pays off its suppliers. Accounts payable turnover shows how many times a company pays off its accounts payable during a period.

Accounts payable are short-term debt that a company owes to its suppliers and creditors. The accounts payable turnover ratio shows how efficient a company is at paying its suppliers and short-term debts.

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Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio

The AP Turnover Ratio Formula

AP Turnover=TSP(BAP + EAP)/2where:AP = Accounts payableTSP = Total supply purchasesBAP = Beginning accounts payableEAP = Ending accounts payable\begin{aligned} &\text{AP Turnover}=\frac{\text{TSP}}{(\text{BAP + EAP})/2}\\ &\textbf{where:}\\ &\text{AP = Accounts payable}\\ &\text{TSP = Total supply purchases}\\ &\text{BAP = Beginning accounts payable}\\ &\text{EAP = Ending accounts payable}\\ \end{aligned}AP Turnover=(BAP + EAP)/2TSPwhere:AP = Accounts payableTSP = Total supply purchasesBAP = Beginning accounts payableEAP = Ending accounts payable

Calculating the Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio

Calculate the average accounts payable for the period by subtracting the accounts payable balance at the beginning of the period from the accounts payable balance at the end of the period.

Divide the result by two to arrive at the average accounts payable. Take total supplier purchases for the period and divide it by the average accounts payable for the period.

Key Takeaways

  • The accounts payable turnover ratio is a short-term liquidity measure used to quantify the rate at which a company pays off its suppliers.
  • Accounts payable turnover shows how many times a company pays off its accounts payable during a period.
  • Ideally, a company wants to generate enough revenue to pay off its accounts payable quickly, but not so quickly the company misses out on opportunities because they could use that money to invest in other endeavors.

Decoding Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio

The accounts payable turnover ratio shows investors how many times per period a company pays its accounts payable. In other words, the ratio measures the speed at which a company pays its suppliers. Accounts payable is listed on the balance sheet under current liabilities.  

Investors can use the accounts payable turnover ratio to determine if a company has enough cash or revenue to meet its short-term obligations. Creditors can use the ratio to measure whether to extend a line of credit to the company.

A Decreasing AP Turnover Ratio

A decreasing turnover ratio indicates that a company is taking longer to pay off its suppliers than in previous periods. The rate at which a company pays its debts could provide an indication of the company's financial condition. A decreasing ratio could signal that a company is in financial distress. Alternatively, a decreasing ratio could also mean the company has negotiated different payment arrangements with its suppliers.

An Increasing Turnover Ratio

When the turnover ratio is increasing, the company is paying off suppliers at a faster rate than in previous periods. An increasing ratio means the company has plenty of cash available to pay off its short-term debt in a timely manner. As a result, an increasing accounts payable turnover ratio could be an indication that the company managing its debts and cash flow effectively.

However, an increasing ratio over a long period could also indicate the company is not reinvesting back into its business, which could result in a lower growth rate and lower earnings for the company in the long term. Ideally, a company wants to generate enough revenue to pay off its accounts payable quickly, but not so quickly the company misses out on opportunities because they could use that money to invest in other endeavors.

AP Turnover vs. AR Turnover Ratios

The accounts receivable turnover ratio is an accounting measure used to quantify a company's effectiveness in collecting its receivables or money owed by clients. The ratio shows how well a company uses and manages the credit it extends to customers and how quickly that short-term debt is collected or is paid.

The accounts payable turnover ratio is used to quantify the rate at which a company pays off its suppliers. Accounts payable turnover shows how many times a company pays off its accounts payable during a period.

Accounts receivable turnover shows how quickly a company gets paid by its customers while the accounts payable turnover ratio shows how quickly the company pays its suppliers.

Limitations of AP Turnover Ratio

As with all financial ratios, it's best to compare the ratio for a company with companies in the same industry. Each sector could have a standard turnover ratio that might be unique to that industry.

A limitation of the ratio could be when a company has a high turnover ratio, which would be considered as a positive development by creditors and investors. If the ratio is so much higher than other companies within the same industry, it could indicate that the company is not investing in its future or using its cash properly.

In other words, a high or low ratio shouldn't be taken on face value, but instead, lead investors to investigate further as to the reason for the high or low ratio.

Example of the Accounts Payable Turnover Ratio

Company A purchases its materials and inventory from one supplier and for the past year had the following results:

  • Total supplier purchases were $100 million for the year.
  • Accounts payable was $30 million for the start of the year while accounts payable came in at $50 million at the end of the year.
  • The average accounts payable for the entire year is calculated as follows:
  • ($30 million + $50 million) / 2 or $40 million
  • The accounts payable turnover ratio is calculated as follows:
  • $100 million / $40 million equals 2.5 for the year
  • Company A paid off their accounts payables 2.5 times during the year.

Assume that during the same year, Company B, a competitor of Company A had the following results for the year:

  • Total supplier purchases were $110 million for the year.
  • Accounts payable of $15 million for the start of the year and by the end of the year had $20 million.
  • The average accounts payable is calculated as follows:
  • ($15 million + $20 million) / 2 or $17.50 million
  • The accounts payable turnover ratio is calculated as follows:
  • $110 million / $17.50 million equals 6.29 for the year
  • Company A paid off their accounts payables 6.9 times during the year. Therefore, when compared to Company A, Company B is paying off its suppliers at a faster rate.