Defensive Interval Ratio

Defensive interval ratio is a liquidity ratio that measures the number of days for which a company's current quick assets can finance its daily cash expenditures assuming it is not expected to receive any cash inflows during the period. It is calculated by dividing quick assets by daily cash expenses.

A defensive interval ratio that is lower relative to industry average or to previous year's average raises alarm about liquidity problems unless there are sufficient expected cash inflows over the period.

Defensive interval ratio can be used to complement other liquidity ratios such as quick ratio,, current ratio and cash ratio.


Defensive interval ratio can be calculated using the following formula:

Defensive Interval Ratio =Quick Assets
Daily Cash Expenses

Quick Assets = Cash + Marketable Securities + Receivables

Cash means cash and cash equivalents, marketable securities refer to money market investments which can be converted to cash without any loss of value and receivables include notes receivables and trade receivables.


The following table summarizes information about three companies. Find their defensive interval ratio and tell which company is most likely to face serious liquidity problems. (All amounts are in million dollars.)

Marketable securities5025100
Daily cash expenses626
Daily cash inflows expected for next 2 months3021

Analyze the ratio assuming that the industry average defensive interval is 2 months.


Marketable securities5025100
Quick assets (A)37085240
Daily cash expenses (B)626
Defensive interval (A/B)61.742.540.0
Daily cash inflows expected for next 2 months3021

Company A's defensive interval is as much as industry average, so the company is just fine in the short-run.

Though Company B's defensive interval ratio is lower than the industry average, the company is expected to generate as much cash inflows as its cash outflows. Hence, it means it is not expected to face any significant liquidity problems.

Company C is expected to face problems because not only its defensive interval ratio is significantly lower than the industry, it's expected daily cash inflows over the period are much lower than its daily expected cash outflows. The company should either accelerate its cash inflows or arrange short-term borrowing.

Written by Obaidullah Jan, ACA, CFA and last modified on