Operating and Financial Leases (Capital Leases)

Within an accounting context, a lease can be classified as an operating lease or a financial lease.

Operating lease (service lease) refers to a short-term lease of an asset with a useful life longer than the term of the lease. For example, this applies when fixed assets with a useful life of 15 years are leased for 3 years. This type of lease is common for fixed assets with a longer useful life but which become less efficient and even technologically obsolete relatively fast, such as computer systems and office equipment.

Operating leases usually can be cancelled but generally a cancellation penalty will apply. They also usually include maintenance clauses which require the lessor to conduct maintenance of the asset as well as tax and insurance payments.

Operational leases usually include a renewal option since the economic life of the asset is generally relatively longer than the lease term. This allows the lessee to renew the lease of the asset at the end of the term of the lease. A purchase option may be included at the end of the lease which will allow the lessee to acquire the asset.

Under an operating lease, a lessor transfers to lessee only the right to use the asset. The lessee does not have any level of ownership over the asset. Under an operating lease, periodic payments, as per the lease agreement, are recorded as expenses in the income statement. Operating lease expense is not recorded in the balance sheet.

Consequently, under an operating lease (compared to capital lease), financial ratios present misleading results. For example, leverage ratios are understated because no liability is recorded associated with the lease. For example, the debt-equity ratio is lower and so is the debt ratio. The times interest earned ratio is higher because under an operating lease, depreciation is not recorded.

Liquidity ratios are also affected. Both, the current ratio and quick (Acid-Test) ratio are overstated because the lease is not reflected in current liabilities. Moreover, the ROA profitability ratio is overstated because total assets are not affected under an operating lease.

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Overview of the Balance Sheet (Financial Position Statement)

A balance sheet – financial position statement is one of the most important financial statements. Other important financial statements include the income statement, cash flow statement and statement of changes in equity.

A balance sheet is the financial position of the company at a given point in time. It is often called a “snapshot” of the company’s financial position.

How to think about a balance sheet (financial position statement)


A good way to compare the balance sheet statement, income statement and cash-flow statement is to think of a river leading to a dam. The income statement and a cash-flow statement record the movement of money over a specific period of time. It is similar to recording the volume flowing down a river over a specific period. The balance sheet – financial position statement is the dam. Everything collects there.

Therefore, by looking at the balance sheet we can see how everything comes together at a given point in time. If the company is reporting strong cash-flow in the statement of cash-flows, then that cash must be collecting somewhere, in the balance sheet. Provided a balance sheet is constructed honestly and correctly, it is a wonderful source of information about the company. Like a dam, any poisonous material or waste, gets washed down into the balance sheet. Therefore, paying careful attention to the balance sheet (financial position statement) allows to evaluate important information about the company.

Understanding the balance sheet (financial position statement)


To understand the balance sheet (financial position statement), one first needs to understand the difference between assets and liabilities. A simple explanation is as follows: if you take an unpaid vacation or are between jobs for a while, assets will or will have the potential of adding money to your bank account every month. Liabilities, however, will deduct money from your bank.

For example, if you own a fully paid-off house, which is currently empty, this is an asset. You may choose to earn money from this asset by renting it out. Therefore, even if you are not working, you will have rental income generated from your asset. However, if you leased an expensive car and lost your job, the bank will still deduct money from your bank account every month. Therefore, this is a liability. Alternatively, if the car is fully paid-off, it is an asset and you could generate income from it.

We also can define assets and liabilities more formally.

ASSETS

Assets are any tangible or intangible economic resources that a company or individual possesses and which can be used to cover the individual’s or company’s debt. For example, in the case of an individual, retirement savings and stocks are examples of assets. In the case of a company, fully owned equipment and buildings are examples of assets.

As represented on the balance sheet, current assets are assets which are excepted to be converted into cash within 12 months and non-current assets are assets which are expected to be converted into cash at some point in the future which is longer than 12 months.

LIABILITIES

Liability is a legal obligation to settle debt which arises as a result of a past transaction or event. A liability should, by law, be settled at a specified future period or over a specified period and, possibly, at specified intervals.

As represented on the balance sheet, current liabilities are debts which must be settled within 12 months and non-current liabilities are debts which must be settled at some point in the future which is longer than 12 months.

An example of personal liability can be a personal loan that must be repaid to the bank. Company liability examples include accrued expenses such as wages as well as long-term loans.

 

Long term sources of finance

Here we will focus only on the long term sources of finance because only long-term sources provide permanent financing. Long-term sources of finance (also called long-term sources of capital) refer to long-term debt and equity on the balance sheet. They include long-term debt, preferred stock and common stock equity, which in turn include issues of new common stock and retained earnings.

Permanent financing generally refers to financing long-term fixed assets, such as machinery or factory. If the pay-off from the asset is over the long-term period (longer than 1 year), the long-term sources of finance should be used to ensure it is less risky to finance such assets. For example, if long-term debt (one of the long-term sources of finance) rather than short-term debt is used, business can be more certain money will be available to cover obligations as they come due.

While focusing on the long-term sources of finance, we will need to focus on the specific cost of finance. We will need to obtain the specific cost of each of the long-term sources of finance, which refers to the after-tax cost of using each of the sources today.

Read related article: Cost of Long Term Debt 

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Times Interest Earned Ratio (Interest Coverage Ratio)

Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER), also known as the Interest Coverage Ratio, measures the ability of the enterprise to meet its financial obligations (interest payments on debt due). The formula for TIER is as follows:

Times Interest Earned Ratio = EBIT/interest charges

EBIT refers to earnings before interest and taxes, which is also called operating profit (refer to the format of an income statement to see how it is calculated).

Example


Assume ABC Company has an operating profit of $550,000 and interest charges of $100,000. The Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER) of ABC is as follows:

$550,000/$100,000=5.5

It is generally advisable that the Times Interest Earned Ratio should be between 3 and 5.

ABC’s Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER) could be too high. It may be possible that the firm is unnecessarily careful in using debt as a source of capital. This means the risk taken may be lower than average, but so is the return.

Things to note about this ratio


When using the Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER), it is important to remember that interest is paid with cash and not with income (since some income may still be in the form of accounts receivable). Therefore, the real ability of the firm to make interest payments may be worse than indicated by the Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER). It is also important to remember that debt obligations include repayment of principal debt as well as payment of interest.

One should compare debt ratios of individual firms to industry averages, to obtain a better understanding. There is a large variability of debt ratios industry averages between industries. This is because different industries have different operations requirements.

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Fixed Payment Coverage Ratio

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))

Where:

EBIT = earnings before interest and tax (operating profit)

LP = lease payments

I = interest charges

PP = principal payments

PSD = preferred stock dividends

T = tax rate

Test yourself


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:

= 550,000+20,000/100,000+20,000+((60,000+15,000)*(1/1-T))

= 570,000/120,000+((75,000)*1.67)

= 570,000/120,000+125,250

= 570,000/245,250

= 2.3

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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Income Statement Format

Familiarity with the income statement format is important for anyone who wants to succeed in business studies and a business career. You need to be familiar with the format to the point of being able to write down the format from memory.

The income statement, which is also referred to as profit and loss statement (P&L), is one of the most important financial statements. Other important financial statements include the balance sheet, cash flow statement and statement of changes in equity.

A good way to compare the income statement, balance sheet (financial position statement) and cash-flow statement is to think of a river leading to a dam. The income statement and a cash-flow statement record the movement of money over a specific period of time. It is similar to recording the volume flowing down a river over specific period. The balance sheet (financial position statement) is the dam. Everything collects there.

The income statement calculates if the business generated a profit or incurred loss during a specified financial period. In other words, it shows profitability of the organization over a certain period.

If profit was generated during then the bottom line of the statement will be a net profit after taxes, which is also called the net income. The general format is presented below.

General income statement format


Sales revenue

LESS: Cost of goods sold*

= Gross profit

LESS: Operating expenses

= EBIT (earnings before interest and tax/operating profit)

LESS: Interest

= Net profit before tax

LESS: Taxes

= Net profit after tax

LESS: Preferred stock dividends

= Earnings available for common stockholders

To calculate Cost of goods sold, one needs to follow the steps:

Opening inventory

Add: Purchases

Less: Closing inventory

= Cost of goods sold