What Is the Debt-To-Equity Ratio and How Is It Calculated?

The debt to equity ratio measures the riskiness of a company’s financial structure by comparing its total debt to its total equity. The ratio reveals the relative proportions of debt and equity financing that a business employs. It is closely monitored by lenders and creditors, since it can provide early warning that an organization is so overwhelmed by debt that it is unable to meet its payment obligations. For example, the owners of a business may not want to contribute any more cash to the company, so they acquire more debt to address the cash shortfall.

More specifically, calculating the debt-to-equity ratio helps determine how heavily your business relies on debt for financing. That’s a critical consideration for stakeholders because debt is generally cheaper than equity, but you can only take on so much before you start struggling to meet your obligations. Some banks use this ratio taking long-term debt, while others keep total debt. When it’s time for potential lenders or stakeholders to make a decision about your company, they look at your debt-to-equity ratio. Specifically, investors look at your ability to pay off your debt and how much of your company depends on debt. The debt-to-equity ratio meaning is the relationship between your debt and equity to calculate the financial risks of your business.

  • If you are in an industry that performs work and invoices after you complete a project, that information is important.
  • However, a low D/E ratio is not necessarily a positive sign, as the company could be relying too much on equity financing, which is costlier than debt.
  • Higher D/E ratios can also tend to predominate in other capital-intensive sectors heavily reliant on debt financing, such as airlines and industrials.
  • Firms whose ratio is greater than 1.0 use more debt in financing their operations than equity.

The debt to equity ratio reflects the company’s capital structure and tells in case of shutdown whether the outstanding debt will be paid off through shareholders’ equity or not. Debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio is used to evaluate a company’s financial leverage and is calculated by dividing a company’s total liabilities by its shareholder equity. It is a measure of the degree to which a company is financing its operations with debt rather than its own resources. The debt to owners equity ratio, also known as the debt-equity ratio or simply debt ratio, compares a company’s total debt with its total owners’ equity. This metric provides insights into an organization’s financial leverage and is often used by lenders, investors, and analysts to assess creditworthiness, stability, and overall financial health.

Risk analysis

He also notes that it is not uncommon for minority shareholders of publicly traded companies to criticize the board of directors because their overly prudent management gives them too low a return. Normally, the debt component includes long-term borrowings & long-term provisions, the equity component consists of net worth and preference shares not redeemable in one year. A ratio of 0.5 means that you have $0.50 of debt for every $1.00 in equity. So, a ratio of 1.5 means you have $1.50 of debt for every $1.00 in equity. Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers.

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For this reason, using the D/E ratio along with other leverage ratios and financial information will give you a clearer picture of a firm’s leverage. However, that’s not foolproof when determining a company’s financial health. Some industries, like the banking and financial services sector, have relatively high D/E ratios and that doesn’t mean the companies are in financial distress. certified bookkeeper certifications & licenses cpb and cb The debt to income ratio applied to an individual showcases how much personal income is used toward paying off debts. The lower the ratio would mean that an individual is able to pay off their debts in due terms. The calculation takes gross earnings, i.e. the amount you get in your bank before taxes and deductions every month and is usually expressed as a percentage.

New customers need to sign up, get approved, and link their bank account. The cash value of the stock rewards may not be withdrawn for 30 days after the reward is claimed. The result means that Apple had $1.80 of debt for every dollar of equity. It’s important to compare the ratio with that of other similar companies.

The underlying principle generally assumes that some leverage is good, but that too much places an organization at risk. Finally, if we assume that the company will not default over the next year, then debt due sooner shouldn’t be a concern. In contrast, a company’s ability to service long-term debt will depend on its long-term business prospects, which are less certain. For example, utility companies usually need to expend significant amounts of capital to build the infrastructure necessary to start offering services.

How to interpret a debt-to-equity ratio?

A good debt-to-equity ratio in one industry (e.g., construction) may be a bad ratio in another (e.g., retailers) and vice versa. Now, look what happens if you increase your total debt by taking out a $10,000 business loan. As the business owner, use the debt-to-equity ratio interpretation to decide whether you can or cannot take on more debt. If you have more equity than debt, your business may be more appealing to investors or lenders.

How debt-to-equity ratio works

The content is not intended as advice for a specific accounting situation or as a substitute for professional advice from a licensed CPA. Accounting practices, tax laws, and regulations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so speak with a local accounting professional regarding your business. Reliance on any information provided on this site or courses is solely at your own risk. Although it varies from industry to industry, a debt-to-equity ratio of around 2 or 2.5 is generally considered good. This ratio tells us that for every dollar invested in the company, about 66 cents come from debt, while the other 33 cents come from the company’s equity. Ratio between debt and equity measures how much debt a business has relative to its capital.

What is a bad debt-to-equity ratio?

While not a regular occurrence, it is possible for a company to have a negative D/E ratio, which means the company’s shareholders’ equity balance has turned negative. By contrast, higher D/E ratios imply the company’s operations depend more on debt capital – which means creditors have greater claims on the assets of the company in a liquidation scenario. However, D/E ratios vary by industry and, therefore, can be misleading if used alone to access a company’s financial health.


Other definitions of debt to equity may not respect this accounting identity, and should be carefully compared. Generally speaking, a high ratio may indicate that the company is much resourced with (outside) borrowing as compared to funding from shareholders. A lower D/E ratio isn’t necessarily a positive sign 一 it means a company is relying on equity financing, which is quite expensive than debt financing. However, some more conservative investors prefer companies with lower D/E ratios, especially if they pay dividends.

D/E Ratio Calculation Analysis Example

However, the ratio can be more discerning as to what is actually a borrowing, as opposed to other types of obligations that might exist on the balance sheet under the liabilities section. For example, often only the liabilities accounts that are actually labelled as “debt” on the balance sheet are used in the numerator, instead of the broader category of “total liabilities”. If, as per the balance sheet, the total debt of a business is worth $50 million and the total equity is worth $120 million, then debt-to-equity is 0.42.

This second classification of short-term debt is carved out of long-term debt and is reclassified as a current liability called current portion of long-term debt (or a similar name). The remaining long-term debt is used in the numerator of the long-term-debt-to-equity ratio. For example, let’s say a company carries $200 million in total debt and $100 million in shareholders’ equity per its balance sheet.

Taking on debt may be your best option when you don’t have enough equity to operate. The accounting debt-to-equity ratio can help you determine how much is too much and draws the line between good and bad debt ratios. A company’s debt is its long-term debt such as loans with a maturity of greater than one year. Equity is shareholder’s equity or what the investors in your business own. If your business is a small business that is a sole proprietorship and you are the only owner, your investment in the business would be the shareholder’s equity. Another popular iteration of the ratio is the long-term-debt-to-equity ratio which uses only long-term debt in the numerator instead of total debt or total liabilities.

The interest paid on debt also is typically tax-deductible for the company, while equity capital is not. A company that does not make use of the leveraging potential of debt financing may be doing a disservice to the ownership and its shareholders by limiting the ability of the company to maximize profits. The optimal debt-to-equity ratio will tend to vary widely by industry, but the general consensus is that it should not be above a level of 2.0. While some very large companies in fixed asset-heavy industries (such as mining or manufacturing) may have ratios higher than 2, these are the exception rather than the rule. A D/E ratio of 1.5 would indicate that the company in question has $1.50 of debt for every $1 of equity. To illustrate, suppose the company had assets of $2 million and liabilities of $1.2 million.

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