Farwah Jafri | April 26 2023

A leverage ratio is a financial metric used to measure the level of debt a company uses to finance its operations. It is a ratio of the company’s total debt to its assets or equity. The leverage ratio is an important indicator of a company’s financial health, and investors, analysts, and lenders use it to assess the risk associated with a company’s debt level.

**Leverage ratio = Total Debt / Total Assets **

**A company can use three types of leverage ratios to measure its debt usage, these are: **

1. Debt-to-equity ratio

2. Debt-to-assets ratio

3. Interest coverage ratio

**Let’s dive into each type in more detail, along with their formulas: **

This ratio compares a company’s total debt to the equity shareholders have invested. It helps to determine the proportion of financing that is being provided by creditors versus shareholders. A high debt-to-equity ratio indicates the company is highly leveraged, which may pose a greater risk to investors.

**Formula: Debt-to-equity ratio = Total liabilities / Shareholders’ equity **

With the help of this ratio, it measures the percentage of a company’s assets financed by debt. A high debt-to-assets ratio indicates that a significant portion of the company’s assets is financed by debt, which may increase financial risk.

**Formula: Debt-to-assets ratio = Total liabilities / Total assets **

This ratio measures a company’s ability to pay interest on its outstanding debt. It helps to define whether the business generates enough earnings to meet its interest obligations. A high-interest coverage ratio indicates that the company is generating enough earnings to cover its interest payments, which may signal a lower risk to investors.

**Formula: Interest coverage ratio = Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) / Interest expense **

High operating leverage occurs when a company has high fixed costs relative to its variable costs. This means that small changes in sales revenue can significantly impact on the company’s profits. High operating leverage can be risky because if sales decline, the company’s profits can decline even more sharply, leading to potential losses. Similarly, if the company needs more revenue to cover its fixed costs, it may be unable to remain in business.

High financial leverage occurs when a company relies heavily on debt financing to fund its operations. This means that the company has a high level of debt relative to its equity. High financial leverage can be risky because if the company’s profits decline, it may not be able to meet its debt obligations. This can lead to defaults, bankruptcy, or a decrease in the company’s credit rating. Additionally, if interest rates rise, the company’s interest expenses may increase, which could further strain its financial position.

The leverage ratio is calculated by dividing a company’s total debt by its equity or total assets. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to calculate the leverage ratio:

The first step in calculating the leverage ratio is to determine the company’s total debt. This includes both short-term and long-term debt. You can find this information in the company’s balance sheet.

The second step is to determine the total equity of the company. This includes the value of all the company’s assets minus its liabilities. You can find this information in the company’s balance sheet as well.

Once you have determined the company’s total debt and equity, you can calculate the leverage ratio by dividing the total debt by the total equity. The formula is as follows:

**Leverage Ratio = Total Debt / Total Equity **

Alternatively, you can calculate the leverage ratio by dividing the total debt by the total assets. The formula for this is as follows:

**Leverage ratio = Total Debt / Total Assets **

The leverage ratio measures a company’s debt relative to its assets or equity. A higher leverage ratio indicates that the company has more debt than its assets or equity, which can cause concern for investors and creditors. On the other hand, a lower leverage ratio indicates that the company has less debt relative to its assets or equity, which can be a positive sign.

Example: Let’s say a company has total debt of $500,000 and total equity of $1,000,000. To calculate the leverage ratio using the debt-to-equity formula, we divide the total debt by the total equity:

**Leverage Ratio = $500,000 / $1,000,000 = 0.5 **

So, the leverage ratio for this company is 0.5. The company has $0.50 of debt for every $1.00 of equity.

A leverage ratio is used by investors, creditors, and regulators to assess a company’s ability to meet its financial obligations and manage its financial risk.

A high leverage ratio indicates that a company relies heavily on debt to finance its operations, making it more vulnerable to economic downturns or changes in interest rates. On the other hand, a low leverage ratio indicates that a company has a lower level of debt and may be better able to weather financial challenges.

From a regulatory perspective, the leverage ratio is often used to ensure that banks and other financial institutions have a sufficient cushion of capital to absorb losses in the event of financial stress. A higher leverage ratio requirement for these institutions can help mitigate the risk of systemic financial instability.

In conclusion, the leverage ratio is a financial metric providing insight into a company’s debt levels and ability to meet its financial obligations. It measures the proportion of a company’s debt to its equity, and a high ratio indicates that a company has a higher level of debt and is thus at a greater risk of defaulting on its debts. The significance of the leverage ratio lies in its ability to provide investors, lenders, and other stakeholders with valuable information about a company’s financial health and risk profile. By understanding the leverage ratio and its implications, investors can make more informed decisions about which companies to invest in.

**Read Also: **The 5 Most Important Profitability Ratios You Need for Your Small Business

Farwah is the Product Owner of Monily. She has an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, UK. She is passionate about helping businesses overcome challenges that hamper their growth, which is why she is working at Monily to facilitate entrepreneurs to efficiently manage business finances and stay focused on growth.