What Is the Debt Ratio?

What Is the Debt Ratio?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

The debt ratio is a financial metric that measures the extent of a company’s leverage. It’s calculated by dividing total liabilities by total assets. A low debt ratio means a lower amount of debt is financing the company’s operations, indicating lesser risk. On the other hand, a high debt ratio suggests that the company has more debt compared to its assets, which could pose a risk for investors and creditors. It’s essentially a reflection of a company’s ability to cover its debt with its resources.

Related Questions

1. What does a high debt ratio indicate?

A high debt ratio indicates that a significant portion of a company’s assets are financed by debt. This could mean the company poses more risk to investors and creditors, as it may struggle to repay its debts.

2. What does a low debt ratio mean?

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A low debt ratio suggests that a smaller proportion of a company’s assets are financed by debt. Such a company is considered financially stable and possibly a less risky investment.

3. How can I use the debt ratio in decision making?

Investors use the debt ratio to gauge a company’s financial health before investing. A company with a low ratio is considered less risky, making it a safer investment. Businesses also use this ratio for strategic planning and achieving a balance in their capital structure.

4. Is it better to have a higher or lower debt ratio?

Generally, a lower debt ratio is better since it means a business is less dependent on borrowed money to finance its assets. However, some level of debt is often necessary for growth and expansion. The optimal ratio varies by industry and business model.

5. Can the debt ratio be used to compare companies in different industries?

While the debt ratio can provide valuable insight, comparing businesses in different industries directly might not yield accurate results because optimal debt levels can vary significantly across industries. It’s more effective to compare companies within the same industry.