If you want to stay in your banker's good graces, it pays to do your homework. One book to add to the reading list: Annual Statement Studies, a compendium of financial ratios for companies in 368 industries, published by Robert Morris Associates (RMA).

RMA, a national association of bank loan and credit officers, has published the book of ratios for years. And for years bankers have studied it to gauge just how current and potential borrowers stack up against others in the same business.

"When you're aggressive and growing rapidly, you don't want to get blindsided by one of these ratios," says Larry Daniel, CEO of The Daniel Company of Springfield, a $3.5-million trucking company in Missouri. "If you're doing something different from the rest of the industry, you'd better be ready to explain it." Daniel says the RMA guide has helped him in his dealings with his accountant and banker.

The book provides up-to-date comparisons by industry, tapping 16 commonly used ratios, and balance-sheet and income-statement data. Five years of historical data are also included. The latest version breaks out the numbers by sales volume as well as assets and includes several new service-industry categories.

Even if your CPA doesn't have a copy on hand, the book is available in many libraries. Or you can buy it for $95 from RMA, 1 Liberty Pl., Suite 2300, 1650 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19103; phone (215) 851-9100, fax (215) 851-9206.

-- Susan Greco

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