The inventory turnover calculator is a financial efficiency ratio calculator that uses the inventory turnover formula and inventory days formula to understand how fast a company sells its inventory in a certain period. If tracked on a trend basis, it can show investors whether management strategies are improving the efficiency of their production, manufacturing, or selling process, or not.

In this article, you are going to learn how to calculate inventory turnover and inventory days. You will find the answer for the next four following questions and a real example to understand interpretation of this ratio better.

  • What is inventory?
  • How do I calculate inventory turnover ratio and inventory days?
  • What do inventory turnover and inventory days tell investors?
  • How to use inventory turnover and inventory days for comparing companies?

What is inventory?

As per its definition, inventory is a term that refers to raw materials for production, products under the manufacturing process, and finished goods ready for selling. Therefore, it includes all the material process transformation.

Some companies might buy manufactured products from different suppliers and sell them to their clients like clothes retailers; meanwhile, other companies could buy pig iron and coke for starting steel production.

Both of them will record such items as inventory, so the possibilities are limitless; however, because it is part of the business's core, defining methods for inventory control becomes essential.

On the Accounting side, we consider inventory as a current asset recorded on the balance sheet. It has a high degree of liquidity, meaning that we expect it to be converted into cash in a short period of time (less than one year).

Once we sell the finished product, the company's costs for producing the goods have to be recorded on the income statement under the name of Cost of Goods Sold or COGS as it's usually referred.

Inventory as a part of current assets

For an investor, keeping an eye on inventory levels as a part of the current assets is important because it allows you to track overall company liquidity. This means that the inventory's sell cash can cover the short-term debt that a company might have. If you are interested learning more about liquidity, how to track it, and other financial ratios check out our two tools current ratio and quick ratio calculator.

Inventory turnover as a financial efficiency ratio

Operations of a company requires cash. At the very beginning, it has to be financed by lenders and investors. Once the company is running, cash for sustaining operations is obtained from the products sold (cash inflow) and from short term liabilities from financial institutions or suppliers (cash outflow)

In order not to break this chain (also known as Cash conversion cycle), inventories have to turnover. The more efficient and the faster this happens, the more cash a company will receive, making it more robust against any face-off with the market. It is worth remembering that if the company sells more inventory through the period, the bigger the value declared as Cost of Goods Sold.

Inventory turnover shows how many times the inventory, on an average basis, was sold and registered as such during the analyzed period. On the other hand, inventory days show the investor how many days it took to sell the average amount of its inventory.

For example, let's say Company A has an inventory turnover ratio of 14 or, in other words, the company sold its inventory 14 times a year. Then, by merely dividing 365 days / 14, we can conclude that it took to the company 26 days to sell the total of its average amount of inventory. Further details about the inventory turnover ratio formula are discussed in the following paragraphs.

As powerful extra tools, another values that are really important to follow in order to verify a company profitability are EBIT and free cash flow.

How to calculate inventory turnover and inventory days?

Before starting to review the inventory turnover formula, we need to consider the period of the analysis. The most common length of time used is 365 days representing the whole fiscal year and 90 days for quarter calculations. In this post, we will consider the period as the former since it will include any seasonality effect that might be during the year.

  1. Find out the inventory at the beginning and end of the fiscal year. For the case of 2019, we can find this figure if we check the annual balance sheet of 2018 and 2019 for the Beginning and Ending Inventory, respectively. Then we pick both inventory records and calculate the average:

    Average inventory = (Beginning inventory + Ending inventory) / 2

  2. From the income statement of the year to check, we extract the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), and then we calculate the turnover ratio:

    Inventory turnover = COGS / Average inventory

  3. Furthermore, once we have the ratio, it is possible to find out in how many days the average amount of inventory is turned-over by using the inventory days formula:

    Inventory days = 365 / Inventory turnover

Of course, you do not need to memorize these formulas like in school because you have our beloved Omni inventory turnover calculator on your left.

What does inventory turnover tell the investors?

First, we will start talking about what we do not have to do at looking at the ratio and the days, and it is to do not analyze it independently. If reviewed in that way, they are just simple numbers.

The importance of these values relies on its trend. Then, when we have the values for 3 to 5 years, we can conclude whether the efficiency increases or decreases.

Regarding the inventory turnover, the bigger the number, the better. A high value for turnover means that the inventory on an average basis was sold several times for building the entire amount of value registered as Cost of Goods Sold. On the contrary, a low value indicates that the company only processes its inventory a few times per year.

Regarding the inventory days, the lower the number, the better. A large value for inventory days means that the company spends a lot of time rotating its products, thus taking more time to convert them into cash to sustain operations. Conversely, if a company needs fewer days to get rid of its inventory, it will be in a better financial position since the cash inflows will be more robust.

Consequently, as an investor, you want to see an uptrend across the years on inventory turnover ratio and a downtrend for inventory days.

3 reasons a company may be improving its inventory turnover

The main three reasons why a company might be achieving better inventory management can be the following:

  • The company is improving its procurement process. It can be that the company has obtained better suppliers, so getting access to raw material is easier and faster.

  • The company might have improved its production process, getting products ready to be sold in less time.

  • The company is selling faster. After analyzing clients, improving marketing strategies, or taking more market share, a company might be precisely producing what clients want, thus selling most of its products in a shorter period of time.

On the other side, inventory ratios that are worsening might show stagnation in a company's growth. This could be happening because of problems with suppliers, production processes, or competitors.

This worsening is quite crucial in cyclical companies such as automakers or commodity-based businesses like Steelmakers. If the company is stockpiling, quarter by quarter, more and more stock, a problem is definitely developing, and if you own shares in those cases, it might be better to consider selling and take profits.

How to use inventory management ratios for comparing companies?

Regarding stock picking, based on the criteria mentioned above, we should choose as follows:

  1. The one who has higher inventory turnover the better.
  2. The one who has lower inventory days the better.
  3. The one that shows the corresponding proper trend slope during the last five fiscal years.

Never forget that it is vital to compare companies of the same industry category. A company that sells cellphones obviously will not have an inventory turnover ratio that is meaningful compared to a company that sells airplanes.

Real examples: Skyworks Solutions and Broadcom

The following two companies develop and sell semiconductor chips for diverse applications like phones, cars, and computers. They are competitors.

To understand how well they manage their inventory, we start reviewing their last fiscal year and then we apply the inventory turnover ratio formula.

Skyworks (NASDAQ: SWKS)

Beginning inventory = 490.2 millions USD

Ending inventory = 609.7 millions USD

COGS 2019 = 1,773 millions USD

And by using our amazing inventory turnover calculator on the left, we get:

Inventory turnover = 3.2

Inventory days = 113

Broadcom (NASDAQ: AVGO)

Beginning inventory = 1,124 millions USD

Ending inventory = 874 millions USD

COGS 2019 = 6,723 millions USD

Obtaining, after applying the inventory turnover ratio formula:

Inventory turnover = 6.74

Finally, we use the inventory days formula,

Inventory days = 54.1

We can conduct the same exercise for the other years for both companies, and we will build the following graph.

Skyworks vs Broadcom trend comparison

In conclusion, we can see how Broadcom has continuously reduced its inventory days compared to Skyworks, which has just only increased in the last five years. We can infer from the single analysis of this efficiency ratio that Broadcom has been doing better inventory management.

However, it is essential to remind you that this is only a financial ratio. For a complete analysis, an extensive revision through all the financials of a company is required. You can learn more about financial calculators in our investment calculators.

Finally, if you are already investing in the stock market or are just considering to do it, you probably have heard the famous phrase:

"Buy low, sell high."

That refers to buying a stock when it's cheap and selling it when it's expensive. Pretty logic, huh? But, how is it possible to know when a stock is on discount or overpriced?

For those investing existential questions, you better check the Discounted Cash Flow Calculator, which can help you find out what is precisely the proper (fair) value of a stock.

Arturo Barrantes