Financial Statements

Debt-to-Equity Calculation Simply Explained

Last updated Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Debt-to-Equity Calculation

Analyzing companies and their valuation often requires various financial ratios, of which Debt-to-Equity (D/E) might be regarded as one of the most important. In this article, we’ll explain everything to know about this indicator, including its formula, calculation, and a hands-on example—read on to find out everything.

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

The debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio is determined by dividing a company’s total liabilities by the equity of its shareholders. The D/E ratio is a crucial indicator in corporate finance. It shows how much debt a business is using to fund operations as opposed to using cash on hand. The D/E is a specific kind of gearing ratio.

Main Takeaways

  • The debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio measures how much a firm relies on debt by comparing its total liabilities to shareholder equity.
  • The easiest way to compare direct rivals or track changes in a company's reliance on debt over time is to utilize D/E ratios, which vary by industry.
  • A higher D/E ratio among firms of a comparable size implies greater risk, whereas a very low one can mean that a company is not utilizing debt funding for expansion.

Formula And Calculation For D/E Ratio

Total Liabilities / Total Shareholder Equity = Debt-to-Equity.

The balance sheet of a publicly traded firm contains the data necessary to compute the D/E ratio.

The amount of shareholder equity is calculated by taking the value of liabilities from the value of total assets on the balance sheet, which is a rearranged version of the following balance sheet equation:

Assets = Liabilities + Ownership Equity

These categories on the balance sheet could include things that aren't typically considered debt or equity in the sense of a loan or an asset.

Note: Further investigation is typically required to determine the degree to which a firm relies on debt because the ratio might be affected by retained earnings or losses, intangible assets, and pension plan modifications.

  • Analysts and investors frequently alter the D/E ratio to obtain a clearer picture and to ease comparisons.
  • Additionally, they evaluate the D/E ratio in light of expected growth, profitability, and short-term leverage ratios.

Read more about Liabilities And Stockholder Equity.

Excel Formula For Calculating D/E Ratio

Business owners monitor D/E ratios and other financial measures using a variety of tools.

Note: An automated debt ratio and D/E ratio calculator are included in Microsoft Excel's balance sheet template.

What Does The D/E Ratio Indicate?

The D/E ratio calculates the amount of debt a business has incurred in relation to the value of its assets and liabilities. By default, a debt must be repaid or refinanced, incurs interest costs that are often not deferrable, and might diminish or eliminate the value of equity.

Therefore, a high D/E ratio indicates that a firm relies heavily on debt funding and is frequently linked to high investment risk. The growth that is financed with debt may result in higher earnings, and shareholders can expect to gain if the incremental profit increase outweighs the corresponding increase in debt payment costs.

The share price might fall, though, if the extra expense of debt financing balances the extra revenue it produces. Market factors can affect the cost of debt and a company's capacity to service it.

Therefore, borrowing that first looked wise may later turn out to be unproductive for several reasons.

Note: Because the quantities involved are typically bigger than those for short-term debt and short-term assets, changes in long-term debt and assets tend to have the greatest impact on the D/E ratio. Other measures can be used by investors to assess a company's short-term leverage and its capacity to pay off debt commitments that must be repaid in a year or less.

D/E Ratio In A Hands-On Example

Take Wasslak Inc. as a historical example (AAPL). According to the company's 10-K form, Wasslak had total liabilities of SAR 482 billion (rounded) for the fiscal year (FY) ended 2022 and total shareholders' equity of SAR 268 billion.

The debt-to-equity ratio for Wasslak may be computed using the method above as follows:

Debt-to-equity = SAR 482,000,000 / SAR 268,000,000 = 1.80

As a result, Wasslak had SAR 1.80 in debt for every dollar it had in equity. The ratio, however, does not provide investors with a whole picture on its own.

Note: It's crucial to evaluate the ratio in comparison to other businesses of a similar nature.

D/E Ratio's Limitations

It is crucial to take the company's industry into account when considering the D/E ratio. A D/E ratio value that is typical in one business could be a warning sign in another due to the fact that various companies have varying capital requirements and growth rates.

What Is A Healthy Debt-To-Equity Ratio (D/E)?

The type of firm and the sector it operates in will determine what constitutes a "good" debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio. D/E ratios under 1 are typically seen as quite safe.

However, levels of 2 or more may be viewed as dangerous. Businesses in some sectors, such as utilities, consumer goods, and banking, frequently have high D/E ratios.

What Does A Low D/E Ratio Indicate?

A negative D/E ratio indicates that a corporation has negative shareholder equity. The company's liabilities are more than its assets, in other words. This would often be seen as a warning indication of high risk and an incentive to file for bankruptcy.

The Bottom Line

Investors can identify highly leveraged corporations that may pose hazards during economic downturns using the Debt-to-Equity (D/E) ratio.

They can also look at a company's reliance on debt by comparing its D/E ratio to both the industry average and that of its rivals. High D/E ratios may not always indicate bleak corporate prospects, though. In fact, debt may help the business expand and bring in more money.

However, potential investors will want to look into a firm more if it has become excessively or increasingly dependent on debt for its sector.

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