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Working Ratio


The working ratio is a financial metric used primarily in the analysis of businesses in the process and manufacturing sectors. It’s calculated by dividing the total operating costs (excluding depreciation) by the gross profits. This ratio provides insight into a company’s operational efficiency, with lower ratios indicating better performance.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Working Ratio” would be: “ˈwɜːrkɪŋ ‘reɪʃioʊ”

Key Takeaways


  1. Definition: The Working Ratio represents the effectiveness of a company in managing its operating costs. It’s a measurement of operational efficiency, calculated by dividing total operating expenses by total operating revenue.
  2. Application: It is widely used in business fields, especially in industries heavily reliant on operations, like transportation and manufacturing. By examining the working ratio, one can discover if a company is profitable at its core operations or if it’s being kept afloat by other factors.
  3. Interpretation: A lower working ratio indicates a better financial health of a company as it signifies efficient management of the operational expenses. However, a high working ratio is usually a sign of trouble as it indicates that a larger portion of earning is consumed in managing the operational costs of a business.



The working ratio is an integral part of business/finance as it allows a comprehensive understanding of the financial health and stability of a company or entity. It represents the proportion of the company’s operational expenses to its gross profit, which helps in identifying how efficiently a firm is utilizing its resources to generate profit. This ratio has paramount importance as it provides an insight into the operational efficiency, cost management, and profitability potential of a company. A lower working ratio indicates a higher profitability which is indicative of robust financial health. Furthermore, it is a critical parameter for investors and stakeholders for making informed decisions as it directly impacts the company’s performance and value in the marketplace.


The working ratio is utilized in a business setup primarily to gauge the operational efficiency and financial health of a company. It provides noteworthy insights into the financial structure of an organization by showcasing the proportion of the operating costs to the gross profits. These operating costs can span across various expenditures such as administrative costs, sales, general expenses, or cost of goods sold without including non-operating costs such as taxes and interests. By keeping track of this, businesses are able to optimize their operational strategies for better financial performance and stability.Further, the working ratio is a powerful tool for management teams to evaluate how effectively business resources are being used in production and delivery of goods and services. A lower working ratio usually indicates that the company has effective cost control and is capably converting its revenue into profit, hence, indicating good current financial health. However, consistently high working ratios could be an indicator of potential financial distress and inefficiency within an organization, and is a call for the management to delve into and rectify the possible causes. It can be used as a pointer to compare the efficiency of different businesses in the same industry or to evaluate the performance improvement over a certain period within the same company.


Working Ratio, also known as Operating Ratio, is a financial metric used to gauge a company’s operational efficiency in relation to its revenue. It is calculated as total operating cost divided by net sales. Below are three real-world examples:1. Retail Industry: A supermarket chain with a net sales of $500,000 and total operating costs of $400,000 would calculate their working ratio as follows: $400,000 / $500,000 = 0.8 or 80%. This means that 80% of the company’s sales income is used to cover operational costs.2. Manufacturing Industry: A car manufacturing company with net sales of $2 million and operating costs of $1.5 million would have a working ratio of 75%. This implies the company is spending 75% of its total income on operations, leaving a 25% margin for profits, reinvestment or cushion for risk.3. Tech Industry: Consider a software company with $1 million in net sales and $700,000 in total operating expenses. It’s working ratio would be 70%. If this ratio is higher than those of other companies in its industry, the company may need to devise strategies to lower operating costs. Note: Lower Working Ratio is better. It indicates the company is generating sufficient revenue to cover its operational costs, leaving a substantial margin for profits.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a working ratio in finance and business?

The working ratio is a measure of the operational efficiency and financial health of a company. It essentially represents the proportion of the company’s operating income that is used to cover operational costs, excluding debt and taxes.

How can I calculate the working ratio?

The working ratio is calculated by dividing the operating expenses (excluding interest and taxes) by the operating income or net sales. Normally, the answer is expressed as a percentage.

What does a high working ratio imply?

A high working ratio is typically an indicator of lower efficiency. It suggests that a higher percentage of a company’s income is used to cover operational costs, leaving less for profit.

Is a lower working ratio better?

Generally, yes. A lower working ratio means that less of a company’s income is being used to cover operational costs, meaning more is left over for profit.

Can the working ratio be used for comparisons across different industries?

Due to differences in cost structures and income generation models, it’s not always accurate to compare working ratios across different industries. However, it can be valuable in comparing companies within the same industry.

How frequently should a company analyze its working ratio?

Although there’s no hard-and-fast rule, it’s generally advisable for companies to review their working ratio regularly, such as monthly or quarterly to spot trends and address issues quickly.

How can a company improve its working ratio?

A company can improve its working ratio by increasing its operating income or reducing its operational expenses. This could involve improving pricing strategies, increasing sales volumes, reducing waste, or optimizing processes to enhance efficiency.

What other financial metrics should be considered alongside the working ratio?

The working ratio is just one measure of a company’s efficiency and financial health. It should be considered alongside other metrics such as gross margin, operating margin, net profit margin, return on assets (ROA), and return on equity (ROE).

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