What Is the Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E)?

What Is the Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E)?

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

The Debt-To-Equity Ratio, often abbreviated as D/E, is comparative metric used in finance to determine a company’s financial leverage. It emphasizes the proportion of a company’s financing that is sourced from debt compared to the amount sourced from shareholders’ equity. It is calculated by dividing a company’s total liabilities by its shareholders’ equity.

Understanding D/E ratio is essential for investors, as a high ratio suggests a company has been aggressive in its financing, mainly using debt. Higher D/E ratios are often associated with higher risk as they rely heavily on borrowed money which has to be repaid. Conversely, low D/E ratios are generally viewed as less risky since the company relies less on debt. Hence, D/E is a useful tool to evaluate a company’s risk profile.

Related Questions

1. How to calculate the Debt-to-Equity Ratio?

To determine the Debt-to-Equity Ratio, you must divide total liabilities by shareholder’s equity. Both these figures can be found on a company’s balance sheet.

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2. What does a high Debt-to-Equity Ratio signify?

A high Debt-to-Equity Ratio typically indicates that a company has aggressively financed its growth with debt. It might mean higher risk, as it suggests the company is heavily reliant on borrowed money that needs to be repaid.

3. Does a low Debt-to-Equity Ratio indicate a safe investment?

Generally, a lower Debt-to-Equity Ratio is seen as less riskier as it implies that the company doesn’t heavily rely on borrowed money. However, the safety of an investment is also dependent on other factors.

4. Is it better to have a high or low Debt-to-Equity Ratio?

It depends on the nature of business and industry, but generally a lower Debt-to-Equity Ratio is preferred as it implies lower risk. However, in certain capital-intensive industries, a higher ratio might be more common.

5. Do all industries have the same preferable Debt-to-Equity Ratio?

No, the preferable Debt-to-Equity Ratio varies across industries. Industries like utilities and telecom, which are capital-intensive, tend to have high D/E ratios, whereas tech companies usually exhibit lower ratios.