Debt-to-Equity Ratio: Formula, Analysis and Examples

High leverage ratios in slow-growth industries with stable income represent an efficient use of capital. Companies in the consumer staples sector tend to have high D/E ratios for similar reasons. A company’s debt to equity ratio provides investors with an easy way to gauge the company’s financial health and its capital infrastructure. The simple formula for calculating debt to equity ratio is to divide a company’s total liabilities by its total equity.

Debt to Equity Ratio vs Financial Leverage

Additionally, the growing cash flow indicates that the company will be able to service its debt level. You can find the inputs you need for this calculation on the company’s balance sheet. The ratio looks at debt in relation to equity, providing insights into how much debt a company is using to finance its operations.

Industry Norms

When used to calculate a company’s financial leverage, the debt usually includes only the Long Term Debt (LTD). The composition of equity and debt and its influence on the value of the firm is much debated and also described in the offset account in accounting Modigliani–Miller theorem. In general, a lower D/E ratio is preferred as it indicates less debt on a company’s balance sheet. However, this will also vary depending on the stage of the company’s growth and its industry sector.

Calculating a Company’s D/E Ratio

The ratio heavily depends on the nature of the company’s operations and the industry in which the company operates. It’s essential to consider industry norms and the company’s specific circumstances when interpreting the D/E ratio, as what may be considered high or low can vary across different sectors and business models. Let’s calculate the Debt-to-Equity Ratio of the leading sports brand in the world, NIKE Inc. The latest available annual financial statements are for the period ending May 31, 2022.

Long-term debt-to-equity ratio is an alternative form of the standard debt-to-equity ratio. With the long-term D/E, instead of using total liabilities in the calculation, it uses long-term debt and divides it by shareholder equity. Thus, in this variation, short-term debt is not included in the long-term debt-to-equity calculation.

  1. A lower D/E ratio isn’t necessarily a positive sign 一 it means a company relies on equity financing, which is more expensive than debt financing.
  2. This means the present value of the minimum lease payments is shown on the balance sheet as debt.
  3. The interest paid on debt also is typically tax-deductible for the company, while equity capital is not.
  4. At first glance, this may seem good — after all, the company does not need to worry about paying creditors.

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. A low debt to equity ratio means a company is in a better position to meet its current financial obligations, even in the event of a decline in business. This in turn makes the company more attractive to investors and lenders, making it easier for the company to raise money when needed.

On the other hand, a company with a very low D/E ratio should consider issuing debt if it needs additional cash. The business owners will have to give up a portion of the business, but this allows it to bring cash into the business without increasing its interest payments or debt. “In the last six years, you have seen this industry navigate two rounds of bankruptcy waves where companies in the energy sector had to navigate highly leveraged balance sheets with meager energy prices,” he says. “Today, we are witnessing energy companies with strong balance sheets. Management teams have learned the lessons of prior years and have retired a lot of outstanding debt.” While using total debt in the numerator of the debt-to-equity ratio is common, a more revealing method would use net debt, or total debt minus cash in cash and cash equivalents the company holds. If you’re an equity investor, you should care deeply about a firm’s ability to make debt obligations, because common stockholders are the last to receive payment in the event of a company liquidation.

It is also a long-term risk assessment of the capital structure of a company and provides insight over time into its growth strategy. Understanding the debt to equity ratio is essential for anyone dealing with finances, whether you’re an investor, a financial analyst, or a business owner. It shines a light on a company’s financial structure, revealing the balance between debt and equity. It’s not just about numbers; it’s about understanding the story behind those numbers. The D/E ratio is a powerful indicator of a company’s financial stability and risk profile.

The D/E ratio of a company can be calculated by dividing its total liabilities by its total shareholder equity. It is crucial to consider the industry norms and the company’s financial strategy when assessing whether or not a D/E ratio is good. Additionally, the ratio should be analyzed with other financial metrics and qualitative factors to get a comprehensive view of the company’s financial health. The concept of a “good” D/E ratio is subjective and can vary significantly from one industry to another. Industries that are capital-intensive, such as utilities and manufacturing, often have higher average ratios due to the nature of their operations and the substantial amount of capital required. Therefore, it is essential to align the ratio with the industry averages and the company’s financial strategy.

If investors want to evaluate a company’s short-term leverage and its ability to meet debt obligations that must be paid over a year or less, they can use other ratios. Despite being a good measure of a company’s financial health, debt to equity ratio has some limitations that affect its effectiveness. A high debt-equity ratio can be good because it shows that a firm can easily service its debt obligations (through cash flow) and is using the leverage to increase equity returns.

Company A’s debt-to-equity ratio of 2.0 indicates that it has £2 of debt for every £1 of equity. This relatively high ratio suggests that Company A is highly leveraged and relies heavily on debt financing. The debt-to-equity ratio is calculated by dividing a company’s total liabilities by its total shareholder equity. Liabilities and shareholder equity can be found on the balance sheet, which is a financial statement that lists a company’s assets, liabilities and stockholders’ equity at a particular point in time.

Like the D/E ratio, all other gearing ratios must be examined in the context of the company’s industry and competitors. The general consensus is that most companies should have a D/E ratio that does not exceed 2 because a ratio higher than this means they are getting more than two-thirds of their capital financing from debt. Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization.

As we can see, NIKE, Inc.’s Debt-to-Equity ratio slightly decreased year-over-year, primarily attributable to increased shareholders’ equity balance. A company with a negative net worth can have a negative debt-to-equity ratio. A negative D/E ratio means that the total value of the company’s assets is less than the total amount of debt and other liabilities. However, start-ups with a negative D/E ratio aren’t always cause for concern.

While taking on debt can lead to higher returns in the short term, it also increases the company’s financial risk. This is because the company must pay back the debt regardless of its financial performance. If the company fails to generate enough revenue to cover its debt obligations, it could lead to financial distress or even bankruptcy. 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 means that for every dollar in equity, the firm has 42 cents in leverage. A ratio of 1 would imply that creditors and investors are on equal footing in the company’s assets.

D/E calculates the amount of leverage a company has, and the higher liabilities are relative to shareholders’ equity, the more leveraged the company is. Investors typically look at a company’s balance sheet to understand the capital structure of a business and assess the risk. Trends in debt-to-equity ratios are monitored and identified by companies as part of their internal financial reporting and analysis. The D/E ratio is arguably one of the most vital metrics to evaluate a company’s financial leverage as it determines how much debt or equity a firm uses to finance its operations.