The debt ratio

A direct measure of debt of the firm is the debt ratio. Debt ratio measures how many of the firm’s assets are financed by debt. The higher the debt ratio the higher the degree of financial leverage (amount of debt) in the capital structure of the enterprise and the higher the risk and potential return.

The formula for the debt ratio is as follows:

Debt Ratio = Total liabilities/Total assets

If the debt ratio is higher than 1 than it means that an enterprise has more debt than assets. If the debt ratio is lower than 1 than it means that an enterprise has more assets than debt.

EXAMPLE:

Assume that ABC’s total liabilities are $1,700,000 and total assets are $4,000,000.

The debt ratio of ABC is as follows: $1,700,000/$4,000,000=42.5%

This means that ABC’s capital structure is 42.5% of debt and 57.5% of equity.

Test yourself


Dillon Corporation has total liabilities of $4,000,000 and total assets of $5,500,000.

Required: Find the debt ratio of Dillon Corporation

Solution:

The ratio is calculated as follows:

$4,000,000/$5,500,000 = 73%

This means that Dillon Corporation’s capital structure is 73% of debt and 27% of equity. A debt ratio of 73% is generally considered to be a very high debt ratio and may indicate a problem of a very high indebtedness and very high financial risk. However, as with all financial ratios, the debt ratio of Dillon Corporation should be compared to the industry average before any conclusions are drawn.

 

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