What Is a Debt-to-Equity Ratio?

What Is a Debt-to-Equity Ratio?

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

A debt-to-equity ratio is a financial metric used to evaluate a company’s financial leverage. It measures the proportion of a company’s funding that comes from debt versus equity. This ratio is calculated by dividing a company’s total liabilities or debt by its total shareholder equity.

For example, if a company has $300,000 in debt and $200,000 in equity, its debt-to-equity ratio would be 1.5. This indicates that for every dollar of equity, the company has $1.5 in debt. Generally, a high ratio suggests that a company has been aggressive in financing with debt, which can result in volatile earnings due to the additional interest expense, while a low ratio might indicate lower risk.

Related Questions

1. How is the debt-to-equity ratio used by investors?

Investors use the debt-to-equity ratio to examine a company’s capital structure and evaluate the risk level. A higher ratio might signal higher risk and lower financial stability.

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2. What is a good debt-to-equity ratio?

The answer can vary depending on the industry, but generally, a ratio of 1.0 or less is considered good, indicating that a company has more equity than debt.

3. How can a company improve its debt-to-equity ratio?

A company can improve its ratio by increasing equity through higher earnings, equity financing, or retaining earnings, or by decreasing its debt.

4. What happens if a company’s debt-to-equity ratio is too high?

A high ratio might deter investors as it suggests high risk and possible financial instability. Lenders and creditors may also see the company as a higher credit risk.

5. How is the debt-to-equity ratio different from the equity ratio?

The equity ratio measures the proportion of the total assets that are financed by stockholders, not creditors, opposite to the debt-to-equity ratio which focuses on debt financing.