Industry Analysis: An Overview

Why Industry Ratios?

Industry ratios are an aggregate measure of industry performance. Publishers gather data from the financial statements of hundreds of firms to calculate industry averages. Often they break out the results into categories based on the asset size of the companies.  These are then used as a benchmarking tool  in comparing a company's performance to that of  its industry. 

What is Your Industry?

In order to use industry ratios, you must define your industry using NAICS.

NAICS (pronounced "nakes", rhymes with "snakes") codes are used by the government and publishers to organize and present industry data. Most of the sources of industry ratios listed here use NAICS.

Historical data may be presented using SIC codes, the original U.S. industry classification system.


North American Industry Classification System: United States, 2017

NAICS codes classify establishments based on similar processes or means of production. Codes use a two to six digit level of detail, from broad sectors like manufacturing and retail (2-digit codes) to individual industries (6-digit codes).

Search NAICS

SIC-Standard Industrial Classification

Standard Industrial Classification Manual

The original U.S. industry classification system. Last revised in 1987 when it was replaced with the more detailed NAICS system.

Search SIC

Find Industry Ratios Using RMA Data

The key source for industry ratios is the Annual Statement Studies published by the Risk Management Association (RMA). You will find the print editions in the library's reference stacks. RMA ratios are also available online in the IBISWorld database. Rma Annual Statement Studies: Financial Ratio ...

RMA Annual Statement Studies
Reference 2nd Floor HF5681 .B2R6

Sixteen common ratios along with balance sheet and income statements for over 780 lines of business. Data comes in six groups of sales ranges for companies earning under one million to those earning over twenty-five million. Data is organized by NAICS code.

For definitions plus how to calculate and interpret ratios use the RMA guide to Financial Ratio Benchmarks: Definition of Ratios. RMA also publishes a detailed FAQ page.

Find Company Ratios

Company ratios are found in many business databases. These are the key databases used in ratio analysis. If you want to learn more about ratio analysis use the Newman Library Research Guide to Ratio Analysis.