What is a ratio of debt-to-equity?

In personal and corporate finance, The debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio serves as a measure that measures the financial leverage of your business. This, in turn, allows you to determine how much the company can finance its operations by borrowing instead of owning funds. This is referred to as the personal debt-to-equity ratio applied to the personal statements of financials.

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The debt to equity ratio helps determine whether there is enough equity in the shareholders to cover debts if your business suffered lower profits. Investors are more likely to alter the ratio so that it focuses on long-term debt, as the there are different risks when you look beyond the short-term. Or they employ different formulas to calculate the company’s leverage in the short-term.

Be aware that the calculation of the ratio debt-to-equity is subject to changes caused by loss, profits as well as other changes. The ratio of debt to equity for a company differs across different industries, as the amounts of debt vary according to sector.

Related: Debt Ratio: Types and How to Calculate

How do you calculate the debt-to-equity ratio Formula with an example

The ratio of debt to equity is the method of the division of a business’s total debt by shareholders equity, as per this formula

Total liabilities/ Total equity of shareholders = Debt-to-equity ratio

  1. Make use of the balance sheet

It is necessary to have both the total liabilities of your company as well as its equity in shareholders. The total equity of shareholders is the sum of liabilities and assets. You’ll see both numbers in your company’s balance sheet.

Related: How To Create a Balance Sheet in 5 Simple Steps

  1. Start dividing

Utilizing the formula for debt-to-equity ratio to divide the total liabilities of your business by its equity in shareholders to determine your debt-to-equity ratio.


Utilizing the formula above, think of a business with total liabilities of $5,000. The equity of shareholders is $2,000. To determine the ratio of equity to debt:

$5,000 / $2,000 = 2.5

Microsoft Excel comes with several templates to calculate the debt-to-equity ratio:

Find total debt and equity of shareholders: Locate the total equity and debt of the shareholders through your company’s balance sheet.

Enter the numbers in the template you have created: When you’ve got your figures, you can put them in cells adjacent to each other within your Excel template. For instance B3 as well as B4.

Enter the formula as follows: With the figures placed in the correct cells, enter “=B3/B4” (or the cells that you entered) to calculate the debt-to-equity ratio.

What Does the Debt-to-Equity (D/E) Ratio Tell You?

Since the D/E ratio is a measure of a company’s debt in relation to the value of its assets net the ratio is often used to assess the degree to which a firm is utilizing credit as a way of using its assets to leverage. A high ratio of D/E is typically associated with high risk, it signifies that the business has been adamant in financing its growth using the use of debt.

If a large amount of loans are used to finance growth, a business can possibly earn more than it could have had without this financing. If the leverage increase earnings by more than the cost of borrowing (interest) the shareholders will benefit. But, if the expense of debt financing is higher than the additional income that is generated, the share price could fall. The cost of borrowing may differ based on market conditions. Therefore, unprofitable borrowing might not appear immediately.

The changes in long-term debt and assets are likely to be the most significant influence on the D/E ratio since they are generally larger than short-term debt and short-term assets. If investors are looking to assess the company’s leverage in the short term and the ability to pay obligations to repay the debt that must be paid in one year or more, they may utilize other ratios.

The Debt to Equity (D/E) Ratio against. the gearing ratio

Gearing ratios are an entire range of financial ratios in which the D/E is a good illustration. “Gearing” refers to financial leverage.

The gearing ratios are based more upon the idea of leverage than the other types of ratios utilized in investment analysis or accounting. This concept-based focus blocks gearing ratios from being accurately and interpreted uniformly. The principle underlying them is that leverage can be beneficial in certain circumstances, but excessive leverage puts an organization in danger.

On a basic level, the term “gearing” is often used to differentiate from leverage. Leverage is the term used to describe an amount of credit incurred in the interest of investing to earn a greater yield. At the same time, gearing is related to debt in conjunction with the total equity or the percentage of financing for the company by borrowing. This distinction is evident in the distinction between the debt ratio and the D/E ratio.

Limitations of the Debt-to-Equity (D/E) Ratio

In calculating the ratio of D/E when calculating the D/E ratio, it is crucial to take into account the specific industry within which the company is operating. Since different industries have different capacity requirements and growth rates, a high D/E ratio could be common in one field, and a lower D/E ratio could be typical in another.

These stocks typically feature a high ratio of D/E compared with market prices. It is a slow-growing company but can usually maintain a steady income stream that allows them to obtain loans at an affordable cost. A high leverage ratio in industries with slow growth that have stable incomes is the most efficient use of capital. The consumer staples or non-cyclical industry tends to have a high ratio of D/E because these businesses can take out loans at a low cost and also have steady earnings. 2

Analysts may not be consistent regarding what constitutes debt. For instance, preferred stock can be classified as equity; however, preferential dividends, the par value along with liquidation rights make this type of equity appear more similar to debt.