Asset Turnover Ratio

What is Asset Turnover Ratio?

Asset turnover ratio is the ratio between the net sales of a company and total average assets a company holds over a period of time; this helps in deciding whether the company is creating enough revenues to make sure it is worth it to hold a heavy amount of assets under the company’s balance sheet.

In simple terms, the asset turnover ratio means how much revenue you earn on the basis of the total assets you have. And this revenue figure would equate the sales figure in your Income Statement. The higher the number better would be the asset efficiency of the organization. It’s being seen that in the retail industry, this ratio is usually higher, i.e., more than 2.

On 31st January 2020, Wal-Mart had total revenues of the US $523.96 billion. And its total assets were the US $219.30 billion at the beginning of the year and the US $236.50 at the end of the year. So to calculate the average total assets, we need to take the average of the figure at the beginning of the year and of the figure at the end of the year, i.e. (US$ 236.60 billion + US$219.30 billion)/2 = US$228.1 billion. Then the asset turnover of Wal-Mart would be precisely (US $523.96 billion / US$228.1 billion) = 2.29x

Asset turnover ratio of Walmart

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For eg:
Source: Asset Turnover Ratio (

So, if you have a look at the figure above, you would visually understand how efficient Wal-Mart asset utilization is. The revenue is more than double of what assets they have.


To calculate asset turnover ratio, you need to find out the total revenue (the total sales, or you can take the average of the sales figure at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year) and then divide it with total assets (or else you can take the average figure at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year).

Asset Turnover Ratio Formula

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Asset Turnover Ratio Formula = Sales / Average Assets   

Now there are a few things you should know before we can go to the interpretation of the ratio.

First, what do we mean by Sales or Net sales, and what figure we would take to calculate the ratio? What are total assets, and would we include every asset the firm has, or would there be some exception?

When you calculate a ratio using “Sales,” it usually means “Net Sales” and not “Gross SalesGross SalesGross Sales, also called Top-Line Sales of a Company, refers to the total sales amount earned over a given period, excluding returns, allowances, rebates, & any other discount. read more.” This “Net Sales” comes in the Income statement, and it is called “operating revenues” for the company for selling its products or rendering any services. If you have been given a figure of “Gross Sales” and you need to find out “Net Sales,” look for any “Sales Discount” or “Sales Returns.” If you deduct the “Sales Discounts / Returns” from the “Gross Sales” you would get the figure of “Net Sales.”

Now let’s come to the total assets. What would we include in total assets? We will include everything that yields a value for the owner for more than one year. That means we will include all fixed assetsFixed AssetsFixed assets are assets that are held for the long term and are not expected to be converted into cash in a short period of time. Plant and machinery, land and buildings, furniture, computers, copyright, and vehicles are all more. At the same time, we will also include assets that can easily be converted into cash. That means we would be able to take current assets under total assets. And we will also include intangible assetsIntangible AssetsIntangible Assets are the identifiable assets which do not have a physical existence, i.e., you can't touch them, like goodwill, patents, copyrights, & franchise etc. They are considered as long-term or long-living assets as the Company utilizes them for over a year. read more that have value, but they are non-physical in nature, like goodwill. We will not take fictitious assets (e.g., promotional expenses of a business, discount allowed on the issue of shares, a loss incurred on the issue of debentures, etc.) into account.


It is a  very important thing to consider, as this will ultimately turn out to be what decision you would make about your company in the long run. Let’s interpret two options, and let’s discuss these scenarios in detail.

If the asset turnover ratio < 1

  • If the ratio is less than 1, then it’s not good for the company as the total assets aren’t able to produce enough revenue at the end of the year.
  • But this is subject to an assumption. If the asset turnover of the industry in which the company belongs is usually less than 0.5 in most of the cases and this company’s ratio is 0.9. This company is doing well irrespective of its lower asset turnover.

If asset turnover ratio > 1

  • If the ratio is greater than 1, it’s always good. Because that means the company is able to generate enough revenue for itself.
  • But this is subject to an exception. For example, let’s say the company belongs to a retail industry where the company keeps its total assets low. As a result, the average ratio is always over 2 for most of the companies.
  • In that case, if this company has an asset turnover of 1.5, then this company isn’t doing well. And the owner has to think about restructuring the company so that the company would be able to generate better revenues.

Here one thing every company should keep in mind. If you want to compare the asset turnover with another company, it should be done with the companies in the same industry.


Let’s understand this with an example.

ParticularsCompany A (in US $)Company B (in US $)
Gross Sales100008000
Sales Discount500200
Assets at the beginning of the year30004000
Assets at the end of the year50006000

Let’s do the calculation to find out the asset turnover ratio for both the companies.

First, as we have been given Gross Sales, we need to calculate the Net Sales for both of the companies.

Company A (in US $)Company B (in US $)
Gross Sales100008000
(-) Sales Discount(500)(200)
Net Sales95007800

And as we have the assets at the beginning of the year and the end of the year, we need to find out the average assets for both of the companies.

Company A (in US $)Company B (in US $)
Assets at the beginning of the year (A)30004000
Assets at the end of the year (B)50006000
Total Assets (A + B)800010000
Average Assets [(A + B)/2]40005000

Now, let’s calculate the asset turnover ratio for both the companies.

Company A (in US $)Company B (in US $)
Net SalesNet SalesNet sales is the revenue earned by a company from the sale of its goods or services, and it is calculated by deducting returns, allowances, and other discounts from the company's gross more (X)95007800
Average Assets (Y)40005000
Asset Turnover Ratio (X/Y)2.381.56

Let’s say both companies, A and B are from the same industry. In that case, we can do a comparative analysis. It’s clearly seen that the ratio of Company A is more than the ratio of Company B. As it is assumed that they both belong to the same industry, we can conclude that Company A is able to utilize its assets better to generate revenue than Company B.

But, let’s say Company A and Company B are from different industries. Then we won’t be able to compare their asset turnover ratio against each other. Rather, in that case, we need to find out the average asset turnover ratio of the respective industries, and then we can compare the ratio of each company.

Nestle Example

We have discussed how you would be able to calculate the asset turnover ratio and would also be able to compare among multiple ratios in the same industry.

Let us now calculate Nestle’s Asset Turnover and what we can interpret from the values obtained.

The first step involves extracting the relevant data for Asset Turnover. For Asset Turnover, you require two sets of Data – 1) Sales 2) Assets.

You can access Nestle’s Annual reports from here.

Once you have the data for say, the last 5-6 years, you can put those in excel, as shown below. Calculate the Average Asset size for each year.


The next step is to calculate Asset Turnover = Sales / Average Assets.


Below is Nestle’s Asset Turnover for the past 15+ years.


source: ycharts

So from the calculation, it is seen that the asset turnover ratio of Nestle is lesser than 1. But that doesn’t mean it’s a lower ratio. We need to see other companies from the same industry to make a comparison.

Also, you may note from this chart; the Asset Turnovers has shown a decreasing trend over the past 15 years.

Let’s take another example of Asset Turnovers.

Colgate vs. P&G – battle of Asset Turnover Ratios

Let’s look at the two companies Colgate and P&G.


source: ycharts

  • For the past 10 years, Colgate has been maintaining a healthy Asset Turnover of more than 1.0x
  • On the other hand, P&G is facing challenges in maintaining an Asset Turnover. Currently, its asset turnover is 0.509x.
  • Colgate’s Asset Turnover is 1.262 / 0.509 = 2.47x better than that of P&G.
  • We would be able to say that P&G has to improve their asset utilization to increase the revenue generation through assets.


As everything has its good side and bad side, the asset turnover ratio has two things that make this ratio limited in scope. Of course, it helps us understand the asset utility in the organization, but this ratio has two shortcomings that we should mention.

  • It includes all idle assets: As in the calculation, we take the figure of total assets at the end of the year; we also take into account idle assets that shouldn’t have been included.
  • It gives a general efficiency ratio: From this ratio, it’s impossible to extract the individual asset utilization data, which limits our understanding of the efficiency of an individual asset.

Asset Turnover Ratio Video


In the final analysis

You certainly should use asset turnover ratio for understanding the efficiency of your assets in the organization, but don’t forget to have other ratios handy, like cash ratio, current ratio, quick ratio, fixed asset turnover ratio, equity turnover ratio to understand the overall picture of the company.