# Understanding the Debt Ratio: Definition, Calculation, and Analysis

Article Summary

When it comes to assessing the financial health of a company, one key metric is the debt ratio. This ratio provides valuable insight into a company’s ability to manage its debt and meet its financial obligations. Furthermore, we’ll explore what the debt ratio is, how it’s calculated, and what it can tell you about a company’s financial health.

## What is the debt ratio?

The debt ratio is a financial ratio that compares a company’s total debt to its total assets. It is used to measure the extent to which a company is using debt to finance its operations. Specifically, the debt ratio calculates the percentage of a company’s assets that are financed by debt.

## Formula and calculation

The formula for calculating the debt ratio is:

Debt Ratio = Total Debt / Total Assets

The debt ratio is expressed as a decimal or percentage. For example, if a company has total debt of \$2 million and total assets of \$10 million, its debt ratio would be:

Debt Ratio = \$2,000,000 / \$10,000,000 = 0.20 or 20%

## What it can tell you

The debt ratio can tell you a lot about a company’s financial health. Specifically, it can provide insight into:

• The level of risk associated with a company’s debt: A high debt ratio indicates that a company is using a significant amount of debt to finance its operations. This can increase the risk associated with the company’s debt, as it may have difficulty meeting its financial obligations if its cash flow decreases or interest rates rise.
• The level of financial leverage: The debt ratio can also indicate the level of financial leverage a company is using. Financial leverage refers to the use of debt to increase the potential return on investment. While financial leverage can increase returns, it also increases risk.
• The level of assets available to cover debt: The debt ratio can also provide insight into the level of assets a company has available to cover its debt obligations. A low debt ratio indicates that a company has a significant amount of assets available to cover its debt, while a high debt ratio indicates that a company has fewer assets available to cover its debt.

## Example

Let’s say Company A has total assets of \$10 million and total debt of \$2 million, while Company B has total assets of \$20 million and total debt of \$4 million. Company A’s debt ratio would be:

Debt Ratio = \$2,000,000 / \$10,000,000 = 0.20 or 20%

Company B’s debt ratio would be:

Debt Ratio = \$4,000,000 / \$20,000,000 = 0.20 or 20%

Despite having different levels of total assets and total debt, both companies have the same debt ratio of 20%. This means that both companies are using debt to finance 20% of their operations.

## Debt-to-equity ratio vs. debt ratio

The debt ratio is often confused with the debt-to-equity ratio, but they are different measures. While the debt ratio measures a company’s total debt relative to its total assets, the debt-to-equity ratio measures a company’s total debt relative to its shareholder equity.

Shareholder equity is the residual interest in the assets of the company after deducting liabilities. In other words, it represents the amount of assets that would be left over if all liabilities were paid off.

The formula for the debt-to-equity ratio is:Debt-to-Equity Ratio = Total Liabilities / Shareholder Equity

Like the debt ratio, a higher debt-to-equity ratio indicates that a company is more leveraged and has a higher degree of financial risk.

## Debt ratio limitations

While the debt ratio can provide valuable information about a company’s financial health and leverage, there are some limitations to consider:

• The debt ratio does not take into account the quality of a company’s assets or the ability of a company to generate cash flow to pay off its debt.
• The debt ratio can vary widely across industries, so it is important to compare a company’s debt ratio to other companies in the same industry.
• The debt ratio is a snapshot in time and may not provide a complete picture of a company’s long-term financial health.

## Debt ratio FAQs

### What is a good debt ratio?

A good debt ratio depends on the industry and the company’s specific circumstances. In general, a debt ratio of less than 0.5 is considered low, while a ratio of 0.5 or higher is considered high.

### How do you interpret the debt ratio?

A high debt ratio indicates that a company has a higher degree of financial risk, while a low debt ratio indicates that a company is more conservative in its use of debt. It is important to compare a company’s debt ratio to other companies in the same industry.

### What is the formula for the debt ratio?

The formula for the debt ratio is:

Debt Ratio = Total Liabilities / Total Assets

### What is the difference between the debt ratio and the debt-to-equity ratio?

The debt ratio measures a company’s total debt relative to its total assets, while the debt-to-equity ratio measures a company’s total debt relative to its shareholder equity.

## Key takeaways

• The debt ratio is a financial ratio used to assess a company’s leverage or debt levels relative to its assets.
• The debt ratio is calculated by dividing a company’s total liabilities by its total assets.
• A high debt ratio may indicate that a company is highly leveraged and may have difficulty meeting its financial obligations, while a low debt ratio may suggest that a company is less reliant on debt financing and is less risky.
• The debt ratio can be used by investors, lenders, and other stakeholders to assess a company’s financial health and risk level.
###### View Article Sources
1. “Why the Debt-to-Equity Ratio Matters in Capital Structure” – Ohio University
2. “Debt to Asset Ratio” – Michigan State University Extension
3. “Definitions of Ratios” – New York University Stern School of Business
4. “Financial Ratio Categories” – Iowa State University Extension and Outreach