What Is the Debt Ratio?

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The debt to capital ratio formula is calculated by dividing the total debt of a company by the sum of the shareholder’s equity and total debt. A company’s total debt is the sum of short-term debt, long-term debt, and other fixed payment obligations (such as capital leases) of a business that are incurred while under normal operating cycles. Creating a debt schedule helps split out liabilities by specific pieces. An operating leverage ratio refers to the percentage or ratio of fixed costs to variable costs. A company that has high operating leverage bears a large proportion of fixed costs in its operations and is a capital intensive firm.

  • On the surface, the risk from leverage is identical, but in reality, the second company is riskier.
  • This will significantly decrease the company’s profitability and earnings per share.
  • Her expertise lies in marketing, economics, finance, biology, and literature.
  • This leverage ratio guide has introduced the main ratios, Debt/Equity, Debt/Capital, Debt/EBITDA, etc.
  • The data will be corrupted and there will be no useful data if some companies use total debt and others use only long-term debt.

In contrast, the payment of dividends to equity holders is not mandatory; it is made only upon the decision of the company’s board. A company that has a debt ratio of more than 50% is known as a “leveraged” company. This ratio is important when comparing the total debt of a company with respect to its total assets. A company with a negative debt ratio simply indicates that the company has negative shareholder equity. In most cases, a negative debt ratio is considered a very risky sign, showing that the company may be at risk of bankruptcy.

Its D/E ratio would therefore be $1.2 million divided by $800,000, or 1.5. On the other hand, the typically steady preferred dividend, par value, and liquidation rights make preferred shares look more like debt. We can see below that for the fiscal year (FY) ended 2017, Apple had total liabilities of $241 billion (rounded) and total shareholders’ equity of $134 billion, according to the company’s 10-K statement. These balance sheet categories may include items that would not normally be considered debt or equity in the traditional sense of a loan or an asset. Because the ratio can be distorted by retained earnings or losses, intangible assets, and pension plan adjustments, further research is usually needed to understand to what extent a company relies on debt.


In fact, debt can enable the company to grow and generate additional income. But if a company has grown increasingly reliant on debt or inordinately so for its industry, potential investors will want to investigate further. The total funded debt — both current and long term portions — are divided by the company’s total assets in order to arrive at the ratio. This ratio is sometimes expressed as a percentage (so multiplied by 100).

Debt to capital is an important measure to identify how much a company is dependent on debt to finance its day-to-day activities and to estimate the risk level to a company’s shareholders. It also measures the creditworthiness of a firm to meet its liabilities in the form of interest expenses and other payments. Besides the ratios mentioned above, we can also use the coverage ratios in conjunction with the leverage ratios to measure a company’s ability to pay its financial obligations.

In the example below, we see how using more debt (increasing the debt-equity ratio) increases the company’s return on equity (ROE). By using debt instead of equity, the equity account is smaller and therefore, return on equity is higher. If a company has a Debt Ratio of 1, it has total liabilities equal to its total assets. Or we can say if a company wants to pay off its liabilities, it would have to sell off all its assets. If the company needs to pay off the liabilities, it must sell off all its assets; in that case, it can no longer operate. Total Assets are the total amount of assets owned by an entity or an individual.

This is also true for an individual applying for a small business loan or a line of credit. If the business owner has a good personal D/E ratio, it is more likely that they can continue making loan payments until their debt-financed investment starts paying off. If interest rates are higher 1120s entering charitable contributions when the long-term debt comes due and needs to be refinanced, then interest expense will rise. As with all financial metrics, a “good ratio” is dependent upon many factors, including the nature of the industry, the company’s lifecycle stage, and management preference (among others).

Contrarily, if the company’s assets yield low returns, a low debt ratio does not automatically translate into profitability. The concept of comparing total assets to total debt also relates to entities that may not be businesses. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture keeps a close eye on how the relationship between farmland assets, debt, and equity change over time.

How to calculate debt ratio example 2

Therefore, the debt ratio is very significant in measuring the financial leverage of the company. The ratio tells the investors how leveraged the firm is because a company that has a higher level of liabilities compared to its assets, has more financial leverage and vice versa. Let’s examine the debt ratio for three companies, Alphabet, Inc. (Google), Costco Wholesale and Hertz Global Holdings. The balance sheet data below will be used to calculate the debt ratio and compare the 3 companies. The total debt ratio formula is used to compare the total debt of a company with respect to its total assets which is represented as a decimal value or in the form of a percentage. On the other hand, high financial leverage ratios occur when the return on investment (ROI) does not exceed the interest paid on loans.

Other forms of the ratio

If the debt ratio is high, it shows the company has a higher burden of repaying the principal and interest, which may impact the company’s cash flow. It can create a glitch in financial performance, or the default situation may arise. The debt to asset ratio is a financial metric used to help understand the degree to which a company’s operations are funded by debt.

What is the Debt to Asset Ratio?

Or said a different way, this company’s liabilities are only 50 percent of its total assets. Essentially, only its creditors own half of the company’s assets and the shareholders own the remainder of the assets. Companies with higher levels of liabilities compared with assets are considered highly leveraged and more risky for lenders.

Video Explanation of the Debt to Equity Ratio

Before these investors finally decide to put their money into a company, they must know whether the company has enough assets to bear the expenses of debts and other financial obligations. In conclusion, among the 3 companies compared, Hertz has the lowest degree of flexibility as it has legal obligations to fulfill. Hertz, on the other hand, had a higher debt ratio compared to Google and Costco.

There is a sense that all debt ratio analysis must be done on a company-by-company basis. Balancing the dual risks of debt—credit risk and opportunity cost—is something that all companies must do. The debt ratio is the ratio of a company’s debts to its assets, arrived at by dividing the sum of all its liabilities by the sum of all its assets.

Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. During times of high interest rates, good debt ratios tend to be lower than during low-rate periods. Debt ratios are also interest-rate sensitive; all interest-bearing assets have interest rate risk, whether they are business loans or bonds. The same principal amount is more expensive to pay off at a 10% interest rate than it is at 5%.

It offers a comparison point to determine whether a company’s debt levels are higher or lower than those of its competitors. As is the story with most financial ratios, you can take the calculation and compare it over time, against competitors, or against benchmarks to truly extract the most valuable information from the ratio. Listed above are other common forms of debt ratios varying from debt-to-equity, Long-term debt-to-assets, to other leverage and gearing ratios.

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