Annual changes in financial ratio values are susceptible to ambiguous interpretation because of different applications of generally accepted accounting principles and different numerator/denominator component selections. The paper investigates financial ratio disclosure within annual reports, and the extent to which the underlying ratio components vary within and between companies, within industries and over time. Financial ratios disclosed voluntarily within the annual reports of 101 listed public companies in Hong Kong between 1988–1992 were examined. Findings indicate numerator‐denominator inconsistency between companies and industries at a point in time, but generally consistent within companies across time. Also, sets of ratios reported between years are not constant. Ten potential research questions about financial ratios have been identified.
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