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Leverage Ratio – Debt to Equity Ratio, Definition & Formula



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What is a Leverage Ratio?

It is one of several financial measurements that look at how much capital comes in debt: loans. Next, estimate the ability of a company to meet its financial acts. The leverage ratio category is essential because companies depend on a mixture of equity and debt to finance their operations.


Therefore, knowing the amount of debt that. Its company holds to evaluate whether it can pay off its debts as they come due. Several common leverage ratios are discussing below.

Key Takeaways

  • It is one of many financial measurements that will evaluate the ability of a company to meet its financial obligations.
  • A leverage ratio may also measure a company’s mix of operating expenses. Get an idea of how changes in supply will affect operating income. 

Common leverage ratios are:

  • The debt-equity ratio.
  • Equity multiplier.
  • Degree of Financial Leverage.
  • The Consumer Leverage’s Ratio.

Banks are having regulatory oversight on the level of leverage they held.

What does a Leverage Ratio tell one?

Too much debt can be dangerous for an organization and its Investors. Moreover, suppose a company’s operations can generate a higher rate of return than the interest rate on its loans. Then the debt may help to power the growth.

Uncontrol ling debt levels can lead to credit importance or worse. On the other side, too few debts can also raise questions. An inability to borrow may be a sign that operating the margins are tight.

Several different ratios may categorize as leverage ratios. But the main factors considers are Debt, Equity, Assets, and Interest Expenses.


A leverage ratio may also measure a company’s mix of operating expenses to get an idea of how changes in output will affect operating income. Fixed and variable costs are the two operating costs; depending on the company and the industry, the mix will differ. 

Finally, the consumer leverage ratio refers to consumer debt comparing to Disposable Income. It is used in Economic Analysis and by Policymakers.

Banks and Leverage’s Ratios

Banks are among the most used to maximum advantage institutions in the United States. Moreover, the combination of a fraction of deposits, banking, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The protection has produced a banking environment with limited lending risks.

To reduce this, three separate regulatory bodies, The FDIC, the Federal Reserve, and the Comptroller of the Currency. They review and restrict the leverage ratios for American banks. It means they limit how much money a bank can lend relative to how much capital the bank devotes to its assets.


The level of capital is necessary because banks can “write down” the capital portion of their holdings if total asset values drop. However, it cannot write down assets financed by debt because the bank’s bondholders and depositors receive the funds.

Banking regulations for leverage ratios are complex. The Federal Reserve is creating guidelines for bank holding companies. However, these restrictions changes depending on the rating assigning to the bank. In general, banks that experience Fast Growth or Face Operational or Financial Difficulties must maintain higher leverage ratios.

Several forms of capital needs and minimum reserve placing on American banks; through the FDIC and the Comptroller of the Currency indirectly affects leverage ratios. The level of critical observation paid to leverage ratios had increased since the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009.

When banks were “too big to fail.” They were calling cards to make banks more able to dissolve. These restrictions will naturally limit the number of loans that makes because it is more complex.


Too expensive for a bank to raise the capital than to borrow funds. In addition, higher capital requirements will reduce Dividends or dilute the share value suppose more shares are issuing.

For the banks, the tier one leverage ratio is most commonly uses by Regulators.

Leverage Ratios for functioning Solvency and Capital Structure

Perhaps the most well-known financial leverage ratio is the debt cum equity ratio.


The Debt cum Equity (D or E) Ratio

This is expresses as:

\text{Debt cum Equity Ratio} = \frac{\text{Total Liabilities}}{\text{Total Shareholders’ Equity}}Debt cum Equity Ratio= 

Total Shareholders’ Equity

Total Liabilities


For instance, United Parcel Service’s long-term debt for the quarter ending of December 2019’s $21.8 billion; also, United Parcel Service’s total stockholders’ equity for the end of December 2019 was $3.3 billion. As a result, the company’s D or E for the quarter was 8.62, which is considers high.

High debt or equity ratio generally shows that a company has been ready to finance its growth with debt. However, it can result in change rapidly earnings as a result of the additional interest expense. In addition, suppose the company’s interest expense grows too high. Then, it may increase its opportunities of Default or Bankruptcy.

Usually, a D or E ratio greater than 2.0 shows a risky scenario for an investor. Moreover, the yardstick can change by industry; businesses that need significant Capital Expenditures (CapEx). Like Utility and Manufacturing Companies, that may need to secure more loans than the other companies.

Therefore, it is good to measure an organization’s leverage ratios against past performance, with many companies operating in the same industry to understand the better data. For example, FedEx has a D or E ratio of 1.78, so there’s cause for concern where the UPS is a concern. Moreover, most analysts consider that UPS will earn enough cash to cover its Debts.


The Equity Multiplier

It is similar, but replaces the debt with assets in the numerator: 

\text{Equity Multiplier} = \frac{\text{Total Assets}}{\text{Total Equity}}Equity Multiplier= 

Total Equity

Total Assets


For Instance, assume that Macy’s (NYSE: M) has assets values at $19.85 billion. Stockholder equity of price $4.32 billion. The equity multiplier would be:

\$19.85 \text{ billion} \div \$4.32 \text{ billion} = 4.59$19.85 billion÷$4.32 billion=4.59

Even though it doubt referencing in the formula, it is an obvious factor, given that total assets are debt.

Remember that Total Assets = Total Debt + Total Equity’s shareholders. 


The organization’s high ratio of 4.59 means will assets mainly the funds with debt than equity—Macy’s assets finances with the price of $15.53 billion in Liabilities from the equity multiplier calculation.

The Equity Multiplier is a element of the DuPont analysis for calculating Return on Equity :       

\begin{aligned} and \text{DuPont analysis} = NPM \times AT \times EM\\ and \textbf{where:}\\ and NPM=\text{net profit margin}\\ and AT=\text{asset turnover}\\ and EM=\text{equity multiplier}\\ \end{aligned} 

DuPont analysis=NPM×AT×EM



NPM=Net Profit Margin

AT=Asset Turnover

EM=Equity Multiplier


​The Debt-to-Capitalization’s Ratio

An gauge that measures the amount of debt in a company’s capital structure is the debt-to-capitalization ratio. That measures a company’s financial leverage. It is calculating as:

\begin{aligned} and\text{Total debt to capitalization} = \frac{(SD + LD)}{(SD + LD + SE)}\\ and\textbf{where:}\\ and SD=\text{short-term debt}\\ andLD=\text{long-term debt}\\ andSE=\text{shareholders’ equity}\\ \end{aligned} 

Total debt to capitalization= 





SD=Short-Term Debt

LD=Long-Term Debt


SE=Shareholders’ Equity

In this ratio, operating grant on lease capitalizing and equity including both standard and prefers the shares, instead of using the long-term debt. However, an analyst may decide to use the total debt to measure the debt using a company’s Structure of Capital. The formula, in this case, would such as Minority Interest and prefers Shares in the Denominator.

The Degree of Financial Leverage

It is a ratio that measures the sensitivity of a company’s earnings each share to variations in its operating income. As a result of changes in its capital’s structure. It is measures the percentage change in EPS for a unit change in earnings. Before the interest and taxes (EBIT) and is representing as:

\begin{aligned} andDFL = \frac{\% \text{ change in }EPS}{\% \text{ change in }EBIT} \\ and\textbf{where:}\\ andEPS=\text{earnings per share}\\ and EBIT=\text{earnings before interest and taxes}\\ \end{aligned} 


​ DFL= 

% change in EBIT

% change in EPS



EPS=Earnings Per Share

EBIT=Earnings Before Interest and Taxes

DFL can another options be represents by the equation below:

DFL = \frac{EBIT}{EBIT – \text{interest}}DFL= 




This ratio shows that the higher degree of Financial Leverage is the worse earnings. Since the interest is usually a Fixed Expense, Leverage praises high returns and EPS. Therefore, it is good when operating the income is rising. But it can be a problem when using the payment is under pressure.

The Consumer Leverage Ratio

It expresses the amount of debt the average American consumer has relatives to the disposable income.


Some Economists have states that the massive increase in consumer debt levels has contributes to corporate earnings growth over the past few decades. On the other hand, others blame the high level of consumer debt as a significant cause of the great recession.

\text{Consumer leverage ratio} = \frac{\text{Total household debt}}{\text{Disposable personal income}}Consumer leverage ratio= 

Disposable Personal Income

Total Household Debt


Understanding how the debt increase returns is the key to understanding leverage. Debt is not necessarily bad, mainly suppose the debt invests in projects. That will generate positive returns. Power can therefore multiply returns. However, it can also highly praise losses if returns will turn out to be negative.

The Debt-To-Capital Ratio

It is a measurement of a company’s financial leverage, one of the more meaningful debt ratios. Because it concentrates on debt liabilities as a component of a company’s total capital base, debt includes all short-term and long-term obligations. Capital consists of the company’s debt and shareholders’ equity.

The ratio is using to assess an organization’s financial structure and its financing operations. Typically, suppose a company has a high debt-to-capital ratio comparing to its look with difficulty.

Then, it will have a higher default risk due to the effect debt has on its operations. For example, the oil industry seems to have about a 40% debt-to-capital manifest. Above that level, debt costs considerably increasing.


The Debt-To-EBITDA Leverage’s Ratio

This ratio measures a company’s ability to pay off its actions debt. Commonly uses by Credit Agencies, the ratio causes the probability of defaulting on issues of debt. Since Oil and Gas companies usually have a lot of debt on their balance sheets.

The ratio helps to cause how many years of EBITDA needs to pay back all the debt. Typically, it can be alarming if the balance is over 3. But this can change depending on the industry.

The Debt-To-EBITDAX’s Ratio

Another variation of the debt-to-EBITDA ratio is the debt-to-EBITDAX ratio. It is the same, except EBITDAX is EBITDA before exploration on costs for successful efforts of companies. The balance is commonly using in the United States to normalize different accounting treatments for exploration expenses. The complete cost method versus the successful efforts method.

Usually found Exploration costs in the financial statements as Exploration, Abandonment, and Dry Hole Costs. Other non-cash expenses that should add back in are facts, growth of asset retirement obligations, and postpone taxes.


The Interest Coverage Ratio

Another leverage ratio concerns interest payments and is the interest coverage ratio. One problem with only reviewing the total debt liabilities for a company is that they do not tell one anything on its ability to service the debt. Thus, it is extra what the interest coverage ratio targets to fix.

The ratio that equals operating income divides by interest expenses. Thus, it showcases the company’s ability to make interest payments. Generally, a percentage of 3.0 or higher is desirable, although this changes from industry to industry.

The Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio

Times interest earned is also known as a Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio. It is a variation of the interest coverage ratio. Finally, the leverage ratio completes highlighting cash flow relative to interest owes on long-term liabilities.

To calculate this ratio, find the company’s earnings before Interest and Taxes (EBIT). Afterward, divide by the interest expense of long-term debts. Use the pre-tax profits because interest is tax-deductible. It can, in the end, use the total payments to pay interest. Again, higher numbers are more favorable.


As a result, one can calculate the exact sample estimates without performing the repeating sampling.

So, it’s essential information on the topic of Leverage Ratio.

If Queries or Questions is persisting then, please comment on the viewpoints.

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