It is essential to keep an eye on these factors and how they affect the company’s debt-to-equity ratio over time. A low debt-to-equity ratio can indicate that a company is in good financial standing by demonstrating that it is not relying heavily on debt financing to fund operations. This can help build investor confidence and make it easier for the company to obtain additional financing in the future. However, a low debt-to-equity ratio can also signify that the company is missing out on opportunities for growth, and it may result in a higher cost of capital if it needs to borrow in the future. Therefore, it is essential to consider the company’s growth plans and how much financing will be required when deciding on a target debt-to-equity ratio. A decrease in the D/E ratio indicates that a company is becoming less leveraged and is using less debt to finance its operations.

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  1. Generally speaking, a D/E ratio below 1 would be seen as relatively safe, whereas values of 2 or higher might be considered risky.
  2. For example, capital-intensive industries like utilities or manufacturing often have higher D/E ratios due to the need for substantial upfront capital investment.
  3. This is also true for an individual applying for a small business loan or a line of credit.
  4. If the debt to equity ratio gets too high, the cost of borrowing will skyrocket, as will the cost of equity, and the company’s WACC will get extremely high, driving down its share price.

The ratio between debt and equity in the cost of capital calculation should be the same as the ratio between a company’s total debt financing and its total equity financing. Put another way, the cost of capital should correctly balance the cost of debt and cost of equity. The debt-to-equity loans and grants ratio is calculated by dividing total liabilities by shareholders’ equity or capital. Debt typically has a lower cost of capital compared to equity, mainly because of its seniority in the case of liquidation. Thus, many companies may prefer to use debt over equity for capital financing.

Debt-to-Equity Ratio Formula

The simple formula for calculating debt to equity ratio is to divide a company’s total liabilities by its total equity. Debt to equity ratio also measures the ability of a company to cover all its financial obligations to creditors using shareholder equity in case of a decline in business. However, what is actually a “good” debt-to-equity ratio varies by industry, as some industries (like the finance industry) borrow large amounts of money as standard practice. On the other hand, businesses with D/E ratios too close to zero are also seen as not leveraging growth potential. Let’s look at a real-life example of one of the leading tech companies by market cap, Apple, to find out its D/E ratio. Looking at the balance sheet for the 2023 fiscal year, Apple had total liabilities of $290 billion and total shareholders’ equity of $62 billion.

Understanding the Significance of High and Low Debt-to-Equity Ratios

It’s a useful ratio for investors to use because it helps them determine the default risk of a company. Such a high debt to equity ratio shows that the majority of this company’s assets and business operations are financed using borrowed money. In case of a negative shift in business, this company would face a high risk of bankruptcy. Sometimes, however, a low debt to equity ratio could be caused by a company’s inability to leverage its assets and use debt to finance more growth, which translates to lower return on investment for shareholders. A company’s total liabilities are the aggregate of all its financial obligations to creditors over a specific period of time, and typically include short term and long term liabilities and other liabilities.

Gearing ratios are financial ratios that indicate how a company is using its leverage. For example, manufacturing companies tend to have a ratio in the range of 2–5. This is because the industry is capital-intensive, requiring a lot of debt financing to run. As an example, many nonfinancial corporate businesses have seen their D/E ratios rise in recent years because they’ve increased their debt considerably over the past decade. Over this period, their debt has increased from about $6.4 billion to $12.5 billion (2). Additional factors to take into consideration include a company’s access to capital and why they may want to use debt versus equity for financing, such as for tax incentives.

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