Any ratio that measures a company's ability to generate cash flow relative to some metric, often the amount invested in the company. Profitability ratios are useful in fundamental analysis which investigates the financial health of companies. An example of a profitability ratio is the return on investment which is the amount of revenue an investment generates as a percentage of the amount of capital invested over a given period of time. Other examples include return on sales, return on equity, and return on common stock equity.
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A comparison of two or more financial variables that provide a relative measure of a firm's income-earning performance. Profitability ratios are of interest to creditors, managers, and especially owners. Compare return on common stock equity, return on equity, return on investment, return on sales. See also common-size statement, gross profit margin, net profit margin.
Wall Street Words: An A to Z Guide to Investment Terms for Today's Investor by David L. Scott. Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. All rights reserved.