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The Beginner’s Guide to Analysing Financial Statements - Balance Sheet

by: Tam Ging Wien

When read with begin with A...B...C..., when we sing with begin with Do... Re...Me...

That at least that's how the song lyrics go.

But when we want to understand and assess the financials of a stock, we need to begin with the 3 financial statements, namely:

In our last "The Beginner’s Guide to..." series, we covered the The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding The 3 Financial Statements.

After having an understand of the 3 financial statements, we continue the series with analysing these financial statements in order to understand the financial health of a company. In this post, we will be learning how to analyse the Balance Sheet.

Do read the previous article first before continuing as it will give you a firm foundation of the 3 core financial statements.

Balance Sheet

Current Ratio

This is a simple ratio of the current assets over the current liabilities. Current liabilities are liabilities that need to be cleared in the short term, typically less than one year. Therefore, it is essential to ensure sufficient liquidity to fulfil these short term obligations in order to stay afloat or else the company may run the risk of falling into insolvency.

In general, if a company has a current ratio of less than one, it runs a risk of falling into insolvency. A wise investor would want to avoid such a risky investment. A company with a current ratio of above 1 is essential and a current ratio above 2 is desirable for an investment grade company.

Quick Ratio

Quick ratio is similar to the current ratio except that it conservatively assumes that if none of the inventories or stocks are sold, then the company can still continue to fulfill these short term obligation.

In general, if a company has a quick ratio of less than 0.75, it runs a risk of falling into insolvency. A wise investor would want to avoid such a risky investment. A company with a quick ratio of above 0.75 is necessary and a quick ratio above 1.25 is desirable as an investment grade company.

Cash Ratio

The cash ratio measures the ratio between the cash to the current liabilities. Assuming that no other cash is received in the short term, this ratio gives an indication of how long the current cash reserves of the company are able to keep the company afloat before hitting or falling into insolvency. A cash ratio of 1 indicates that the company is able to continue to fulfil its short term debt obligations for 1 year, assuming no additional cash is received throughout the year.

While there is no general rule on what a recommended cash ratio should be, obviously the higher this ratio, the better the financial situation of the company. We would recommend ensuring that your investments conservatively have a cash ratio of approximately 1 or higher.

Debt Ratio (Gearing or Debt-to-Asset Ratio)

This is a simple ratio of the total liabilities over the total assets, also known as the gearing. This is an important ratio as it gives an indication of how much debt a company has taken on. Another way to look at the debt ratio is the amount of the company’s assets which are financed using debt. Generally speaking, the lower the debt of a company, the better it’s financial health. Debt if used wisely, can help boost the business, however, take on too much debt and the company may spiral down a vicious cycle of continuously borrowing new debt to repay old debt ending up in bankruptcy.

In general, if a company has a debt ratio of more than 1.0, it may be taking on too much debt for its own good. A wise investor would want to avoid such a risky investment. A company with a debt ratio of below 0.75 is necessary and a debt ratio below 0.5 is desirable as an investment grade company.

Debt-to-Equity Ratio

Similar to the debt ratio, the debt-to-equity ratio provides an indication of how much debt a company has taken up relative to its equity. It can be calculated by taking the ratio of the total liabilities over the total equity. Since the equity is the amount owed to the shareholders, one can look at the debt-to-equity ratio to gauge how much risk the company has taken up against the shareholders’ value.

In general, if a company has a debt-to-equity ratio of more than 1.5, it may be taking on too much debt for it's own good. A wise investor would want to avoid such a risky investment. A company with a debt ratio of below 1.0 is essential and a debt ratio below 0.75 is desirable as an investment grade company.

Net Asset Value per Share (NAV per Share)

The net asset value or as it is sometimes known, the book value, is the total amount left over after all assets are sold at the value stated on the financial statements and used to pay off all liabilities. The Net Asset Value can be compared to on a per share basis against the trading price of a share. 

 By comparing the NAV per Share to the traded share price, we can ascertain how cheap or how expensive the current stock price is relative to its asset value.

This method of assessment is known as assessing the price-to-book ratio and is ideal for companies that have large amounts of assets such as banks, REITs and property developers.

Generally speaking if an asset heavy company has a price-to-book ratio less than 1, then it is it considered undervalued. On the other hand, if the price-to-book ratio is greater than 1, then it is considered overvalued. If possible, an investor should invest only when the price of the stock is trading at a price-to-book ratio below 1.

We hope you have enjoyed this educational piece from ProButterflyTM! Check out Dr Wealth App to get stock fundamental data.


We really want to appreciate our many readers who trusted and supported ProButterfly throughout the years. Its only with you that we are able to successfully sell-out everyone of our 2019 runs of our flagship REITs to Riches: Everything You Need To Know About Investing Profitably In REITs workshop!

But there is good news for those who are still interested. We have opened early-bird registration for our 17/18-Oct-2020 (Sat/Sun) run!

We focus on REITs can deliver both capital appreciation and sustainable dividends. During the workshop, we focus our learning with practical examples of real world REITs case studies both local and overseas. This is to ensure that attendees can immediately apply what they learn.

But we have better news,  our flagship REITs To Riches Workshop is now SkillsFuture Credits Claimable! Our SkillsFuture code is CRS-N-0049232 and you may refer to our listing on the SkillsFuture website below:

For more details and registration, check out our EventBrite page:

The workshop will be segmented into 3 key sections:

  • Understanding: Covers basics and benefits of investing in REITs, REIT ETFs, discusses expansion and financing strategies and characteristics of various real estate sectors
  • Evaluating: Evaluating financial metrics, estimating fair value, assessing REIT management and identifying risk before investing
  • Managing: Constructing a balanced portfolio of REITs, diversification, portfolio hedging and boosting yields using margins

During the sharing session, various case studies and list Singapore REIT examples will be used.

The workshop will also cover critical information frequently overlooked by investors include forex risk, concentration risks, simplified fair value estimation, hidden risk of perpetual securities and highlighting various forms of creative structuring.

Importantly, the workshop will cover the most common traps that retail investors fall into while investing in REITs and how to avoid them.

The workshop will offer sufficient breadth and depth to benefit both novice and seasoned investors alike.

Besides on the second day, a Hands-On Practical & Case Study Session is offered to help investors tackle practical aspects of REIT investing. Participants will vote on their choice of REITs/Business Trusts to analyse and will be guided step-by-step on the analysis process using the spreadsheets and tools provided.

More than 5 additional case studies will also be shared including many overseas REITs that can generate much faster returns. A laptop is highly recommended!

Notes and an autographed copy of the book REITs to Riches will be provided.

To ensure you reserve your spot, do register at the following link:

Seats are limited to the first 35pax.

Meanwhile, do also check out the book REITs to Riches: Everything You Need to Know About Investing Profitably In REITs available at all major bookstores around Malaysia and Singapore. To purchase the eBook (PDF) copy, navigate to

Positioning to Ride the Recovery

Opportunities and Risk Post-COVID-19 Pandemic in the various S-REIT Sectors

The COVID-19 crisis has brought about an unprecedented economic shock to many sectors, and yet it has also generated opportunities in others.

The tech sector has been a major beneficiary and along with that, S-REITs exposed to the Data Centre sector such as Keppel DC REIT and Mapletree Industrial Trust gained phenomenally.

But are the investment opportunities in REITs now gone? Personally, we do not think so. There are still many REITs below their pre-COVID-19 levels poise to recover strongly in the coming quarters – and now it is the best time to prepare to capture the post-COVID recovery.

Join us as we discuss the opportunities and risk in the S-REIT space sector-by-sector as we try to uncover recovery opportunities for FY2021 and beyond. Real estate sectors that we will be covering include the Retail, Hospitality, Offices, Healthcare, Industrial and Data Centres.

Our speaker Tam Ging Wien will be sharing his knowledge and experience including:

  • Part 1: A Survey of the REITs Landscape Around The World
  • Part 2: Key Metrics in Identifying Strong REITs
  • Part 3: Real Estate Sector Review Amidst the COVID Crisis
  • Part 4: Screening for Opportunities
  • Part 5: Q&A

Some key highlights that will be covered includes:

  • Real estate sector-by-sector review on COVID-19 impact and recovery opportunities. Sectors covered include the Retail, Hospitality, Offices, Healthcare, Industrial and Data Centres.
  • Opinion on which sector will continue to stay resilient and which are poised to recover quickly post-pandemic
  • The right metric to use when screening for high quality REITs
  • Case studies of REITs which are considered high quality
  • Step-by-step demo of how to screen for high quality REITs on your own

During the sharing session, various Singapore-listed REIT examples will be used.

There will also be a Q&A so that members of the investing community may engage in open dialog and discussions in order to deepen their understanding of REITs. Do prepare your writing materials for note taking.

Please note that the duration of the on-site seminar is 7pm to 9:45pm Singapore Time (GMT +8).

The details of the event are as follows:

  • Seminar: Positioning To Ride The Recovery
  • Date: 5th May 2021 (Wed)
  • Time: 7:00pm to 9:45pm
  • Venue: RNN Conference Centre - Kyoto Training Room (Level 4), 137 Cecil Street, Cecil Building #04-01, Singapore 069537
  • Fees: S$10.00
  • Sign-up Link:

To learn more about REITs, we recommend the article: What are REITs?


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