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Determining a company's financial health is a very important step in making a decision on whether or not to invest or to stay invested. There are many different ways to compute a company's financial health. In this test, I will be considering Exxon Mobil's (NYSE:XOM) profitability, debt and capital, and operating efficiency. Based on these criteria, we get to see sales, returns, margins, liabilities, assets, returns, and turnovers.

Note: All numbers sourced from Morningstar.

Profitability

Profitability is a class of financial metrics that are used to assess a business' ability to generate earnings, compared with expenses and other relevant costs incurred during a specific period of time.

In this section, we will look at four tests of profitability. They are: Net Income, Operating Cash Flow, Return on Assets, and Quality of Earnings. From these four metrics, we will establish if the company is making money, and gauge the quality of the reported profits.

  1. Net Income 2011 = $41.060 billion

To pass, the company needs to have a positive net income. Exxon Mobil passes.

  1. Operating Cash Flow 2011 = $73.257 billion

Operating Cash Flow is the cash generated from the operations of a company, generally defined as revenue less all operating expenses, but calculated through a series of adjustments to net income.

To pass, the company needs to have a positive operating cash flow. Exxon Mobil passes.

  1. ROA -- Return On Assets

ROA is an indicator of how profitable a company is relative to its total assets. ROA gives an idea as to how efficient management is at using its assets to generate earnings. Calculated by dividing a company's net income by its total assets, ROA is displayed as a percentage. Sometimes this is referred to as "return on investment."

  • ROA in 2010 = 10.07%

  • ROA in 2011 = 12.40%

  • Net income growth, 2010 = $30.460 billion to 2011 = $41.060 billion, a decrease of 34.79%

  • Total Asset growth, 2010 = $302.510 billion to 2011 = $331.052 billion, an increase of 9.43%

In 2010-11, Exxon Mobils' ROA increased from 10.07% to 12.40%. Exxon Mobil passes.

  1. Quality of Earnings

Quality of Earnings is the amount of earnings attributable to higher sales or lower costs rather than artificial profits created by accounting anomalies such as inflation of inventory.

  • Operating Cash Flow 2011 = $73.257 billion

  • Net Income 2011 = $41.060 billion

To pass, the operating cash flow must exceed the net income. Exxon Mobil passes, Operating Cash Flow exceeds net income.

Debt and Capital

The Debt and Capital section establishes if the company is sinking into debt or digging its way out. It will also determine if the company is growing organically or raising cash by selling off stock.

  1. Total Liabilities to Total Assets, or TL/A ratio

TL/A ratio is a metric used to measure a company's financial risk by determining how much of the company's assets have been financed by debt.

  • Total Assets -- 2010 = $302.510 billion

  • Total Assets -- 2011 = $331.052 billion

  • Equals an increase of 9.43%

  • Total Liabilities 2010 = $155.671 billion

  • Total liabilities 2011 = $176.656 billion

  • Equals an increase of 13.48%

Exxon's increase in total assets was less than the percentage increase of total liabilities. Total assets increased by 9.43%, while the total liabilities increased by 13.48%. As the total assets did not exceed the total liabilities, Exxon Mobil does not pass.

  1. Working Capital

Working Capital is a general and quick measure of liquidity of a firm. It represents the margin of safety or cushion available to the creditors. It is an index of the firm's financial stability. It is also an index of technical solvency and an index of the strength of working capital.

  • Current Assets/Current liabilities

  • Current Ratio 2010 = 0.94

  • Current Ratio 2011 = 0.94

Exxon's current ratio remained even at 0.94. As Exxon's current ratio remained even, this is a mute point.

  1. Shares Outstanding
  • 2010 Shares Outstanding = 4.978 billion

  • 2011 Shares Outstanding = 4.733 billion

To pass, the company's shares must increase less than by 2%. Exxon's shares decreased by 5.17%. Exxon passes.

Operating Efficiency

Operating Efficiency is a market condition that exists when participants can execute transactions and receive services at a price that equates fairly to the actual costs required to provide them. An operationally efficient market allows investors to make transactions that move the market further toward the overall goal of prudent capital allocation without being chiseled down by excessive frictional costs, which would reduce the risk/reward profile of the transaction.

  1. Gross Margin: Gross Income/Sales

The gross profit margin is a measurement of a company's manufacturing and distribution efficiency during the production process. The gross profit tells an investor the percentage of revenue/sales left after subtracting the cost of goods sold. A company that boasts a higher gross profit margin than its competitors and industry is more efficient. Investors tend to pay more for businesses that have higher efficiency ratings than their competitors, as these businesses should be able to make a decent profit as long as overhead costs are controlled (overhead refers to rent, utilities, etc.).

  • Gross Margin 2010 = $120.923 billion/ $383.221 billion = 33.72%
  • Gross Margin 2011 = $179.627 billion/ $486.429 billion = 36.92%

The gross margin increased from 33.72% in 2010 to 36.92% in 2011. As the gross margin Increased, Exxon Mobil passes.

  1. Asset Turnover

The formula for the asset turnover ratio evaluates how well a company is utilizing its assets to produce revenue.

The numerator of the asset turnover ratio formula shows revenues found on a company's income statement and the denominator shows total assets, which is found on a company's balance sheet. Total assets should be averaged over the period of time that is being evaluated.

  • Sales growth -- 2010 sales = $383.221 billion

  • Sales growth -- 2011 sales = $486.429 billion

  • 26.93% sales increase

  • Asset growth -- Assets in 2010 = $302.510 billion

  • Asset growth -- Assets in 2011 = $331.052 billion

  • Asset increase of 9.43%

As the sales growth is exceeding the asset growth, this implies that the company is producing revenue on its assets. Exxon Mobil passes.

Based on the nine tests that Exxon Mobil received on profitability, debt and capital, and operating efficiency, the company achieved seven passes and one draw out of nine -- this is a very strong grade for financial health. Exxon Mobil declined in the TL/A aspect of the test. The TL/A ratio implies that much company assets have been financed by debt. As this decline is not major nor raised any red flags there is no immediate concern, but this is an area of the company to watch going forward. Based on the nine tests, overall, the company is showing very strong results with seven passes and one draw out of nine.

Source: Exxon Mobil: Inside The Numbers