current assets business definition

Then, when the benefits of these assets are realized over time, the amount is then recorded as an expense. This is the most liquid form of current asset, which includes cash on hand, as well as checking or savings accounts. Current assets include, but current assets business definition are not limited to, cash, cash equivalents, accounts receivable, and inventory. Together, current assets and non-current assets form the assets side of the balance sheet, meaning they represent the total value of all the resources that a company owns.

To illustrate, treasury bills that mature in three months or less are considered cash equivalents. The value of these items are summed up and listed on the balance sheet under the inventory category. Cash equivalents are short-term investment securities with 90 days or less maturity periods. Expected or average financial ratios may vary depending on the business, and depending on where it is in the business life cycle. Sometimes, whether an asset gets classified as current or fixed can depend on the business.

What are some examples of current assets?

Even when your business is on track to succeed in the long-term, current assets can be helpful if you need extra money to cover short-term expenses. To find a company’s current assets you can look at its balance sheet, one of the main financial statements. “Both current assets and current liabilities are found every quarter on a company’s balance sheet statement,” says Stucky. They are unlikely to include cash but may contain some cash equivalents such as long-term bonds. Similarly, they won’t have marketable securities but may have long-term investments. Current assets are items that your business uses in its day-to-day operations and owns for less than 12 months.

  • Expected or average financial ratios may vary depending on the business, and depending on where it is in the business life cycle.
  • The same can be said for current assets, they’re immediate and easily accessible.
  • The level of current assets is important as an indicator of the firm’s ability to meet its bills.
  • These are considered liquid assets because they can quickly be converted into cash when needed.
  • Another way current assets can be used on your balance sheet is for calculating liquidity ratios.

The bulk of a company’s tangible assets will probably be under the long-term assets section of its balance sheet. For current assets, the first item will always be cash (assuming the company has it). In general, however, intangible assets will be listed higher than tangible assets. The standard accounting convention is to list assets in order of most liquid to most illiquid. Both current assets and long-term assets are usually further broken out into their component parts.

The Accounting Gap Between Large and Small Companies

Non-current assets, also known as fixed assets, are assets that your business holds for longer than 12 months and uses as a source of long-term revenue generation. They usually have a high value, benefit the business for long periods, and cannot quickly be turned into cash. It’s important to understand the difference between short- and long-term assets. You need to know what your cash ratio looks like in relation to your liquidity ratios.

You can generate value by operating, monitoring, maintaining, and selling those assets through the process of asset management. Current assets are just one part of a company’s overall financial picture. To get a complete picture, you also need to look at things like liabilities and equity. This includes things like paying employees or buying raw materials. Inventories (often also called “stocks”) are the least liquid kind of current asset. Inventories include holdings of raw materials, components, finished products ready to sell and also the cost of “work-in-progress” as it passes through the production process.

Current Assets Explanation

A current asset—sometimes called a liquid asset—is a short-term asset that a company expects to use up, convert into cash, or sell within one fiscal year or operating cycle. Non-current assets, on the other hand, are long-term assets that cannot be readily converted into cash within one year. Total current assets is the sum of all cash and other assets that quickly convert into cash.

What are the 8 current assets?

  • Cash.
  • Cash Equivalents.
  • Stock or Inventory.
  • Accounts Receivable.
  • Marketable Securities.
  • Prepaid Expenses.
  • Other Liquid Assets.

“For example, it’s not a good situation if sales are slowing over time if inventories (a current asset) are rising.” For example, a company that builds manufacturing equipment might consider the completed units as inventory and classify them as current assets. However, a company that buys the machinery and will use it for years to come would consider it a fixed asset.

Following these principles and practices, financial statements must be generated with specific line items that create transparency for interested parties. One of these statements is the balance sheet, which lists a company’s assets, liabilities, and shareholders’ equity. Current assets are assets that can be quickly converted into cash within one year. These assets, once converted, can be used to fulfill current liabilities if needed.

This section is important for investors because it shows the company’s short-term liquidity. According to Apple’s balance sheet, it had $135 million in the Current Assets account it could convert to cash within one year. This short-term liquidity is vital—if Apple were to experience issues paying its short-term obligations, it could liquidate these assets to help cover these debts. Yes, cash is a current asset, as are “cash equivalents” or things that can quickly be converted into cash, like short-term bonds and investments and foreign currency. Prepaid expenses include anything you’ve paid for but expect to benefit from over time. If you’ve paid for a year-long lease or an extended insurance policy, you have prepaid expenses.

Although prepaid expenses are not technically liquid, they are listed under current assets because they free up capital for future use. Similarly, other liquid assets will also be classed as current assets. Current ratio measures your ability to pay your current liabilities with your current assets. The operating cycle is an important metric because it can impact your working capital and liquidity. The main problem with relying upon current assets as a measure of liquidity is that some of the accounts within this classification are not so liquid. In particular, it may be difficult to readily convert inventory into cash.

A noncurrent asset is an asset that a company owns that is not intended to be liquidated or sold within a year. It will either act as a long-term investment or be recorded as an expense over time as the asset depreciates. If a company purchases a property, they are doing it for the long-term investment, and in most cases, the property will increase in value and help earn the company more income. A vehicle isn’t intended to increase its value, but the company will use it over a more extended period to increase profits.


Assets that fall under current assets on a balance sheet are cash, cash equivalents, inventory, accounts receivable, marketable securities, prepaid expenses, and other liquid assets. For example, prepaid expenses — such as when you pay an annual insurance premium at the start of the year — could be considered current assets. As could accounts receivable — the money that customers owe the business for products or services that have been delivered. The key components of current assets are cash and cash equivalents, marketable securities, accounts receivable, inventory, prepaid expenses, and other liquid assets.

  • Many companies categorize liquid investments into the Marketable Securities account, but some can be accounted for in the Other Short-Term Investments account.
  • Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years.
  • Noncurrent assets are items that you do not expect to convert to cash in one year.
  • Your current assets are taxed as revenue when you sell them, and you pay corporate income tax.
  • Identifying and managing the risks that arise from the ownership and use of your assets is an important part of the asset management process.
  • Working capital is the difference between current assets and current liabilities.

The current ratio evaluates the capacity of a company to pay its debt obligations using all of its current assets. For example, if Company B has $800,000 in quick assets and current liabilities of $600,000, its quick ratio would be 1.33. Positive working capital shows that the company has enough current assets to pay off its current liabilities. Other liquid assets include any other assets which can be converted into cash within a year but cannot be classified under the above components. Prepaid expenses are first recorded as current assets on the balance sheet.

Current assets will turn into cash within a year from the date displayed at the top of the balance sheet. A balance sheet is a financial statement that shows a business‘ assets and how they’re financed, through debt or equity. The assets included in this metric are known as “quick” assets because they can be converted quickly into cash. On the other hand, if the cash ratio is lower than 1, the company has insufficient cash to pay off its short-term debts. The cash ratio indicates the capacity of a company to repay its short-term obligations with its cash or near-cash resources. Current assets are assets that are expected to be converted into cash within a period of one year.

current assets business definition