The fixed payment coverage ratio measures the ability of the enterprise to meet all of its fixed-payment obligations on time. In other words, the fixed payment coverage ratio measures the ability to service debts.
As outsiders, when analyzing the capital structure decisions of firms, we can use the fixed payment coverage ratio as an indirect measure of the level of debt in the firm’s capital structure. Commonly, the lower the ratio the higher the degree of financial leverage (amount of debt) in the capital structure of the enterprise and the higher the risk.
The formula for the fixed payment coverage ratio is as follows:
Fixed Payment Coverage Ratio = EBIT+LP/I+LP +((PP +PSD)*(1/1-T))
EBIT = earnings before interest and tax (operating profit)
LP = lease payments
I = interest charges
PP = principal payments
PSD = preferred stock dividends
T = tax rate
Assume ABC Company has an operating profit of $550,000 and interest charges of $100,000. The lease payments are fixed at $20,000, principal payments are at $60,000 and preferred stock dividends are at $15,000. The corporate tax rate of ABC is 40%.
The fixed payment coverage ratio of ABC is calculated as follows:
The fixed payment coverage ratio of ABC is 2.3. Since EBIT is more than two times larger than fixed-payment obligations, it appears that ABC is in a strong position to live up to its fixed-payment obligations as they come due. However, as with all financial ratios, the ratio should be compared to the industry average before any conclusions are drawn.
Note the following
Generally, the higher the ratio the lower the risk that enterprise will not be able to meet its fixed-payment obligations on time. Therefore, generally, a higher ratio is better. However, as with times interest earned ratio, cognizance needs to be taken of the fact that the higher the ratio the lower the risk and lower the return.
Therefore, at some point, the fixed payment coverage ratio may be too high. This will occur if a business is unnecessarily careful with taking up more debt. This will result in very low risk, but also in lower return. This, of course, is not aligned with the overall goal of the enterprise, which is the maximization of the wealth of its shareholders.
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