A measure of a company's financial leverage calculated by dividing its total liabilities by stockholders' equity. It indicates what proportion of equity and debt the company is using to finance its assets.
Note: Sometimes only interest-bearing, long-term debt is used instead of total liabilities in the calculation.
Also known as the Personal Debt/Equity Ratio, this ratio can be applied to personal financial statements as well as corporate ones.
A high debt/equity ratio generally means that a company has been aggressive in financing its growth with debt. This can result in volatile earnings as a result of the additional interest expense.
If a lot of debt is used to finance increased operations (high debt to equity), the company could potentially generate more earnings than it would have without this outside financing. If this were to increase earnings by a greater amount than the debt cost (interest), then the shareholders benefit as more earnings are being spread among the same amount of shareholders. However, the cost of this debt financing may outweigh the return that the company generates on the debt through investment and business activities and become too much for the company to handle. This can lead to bankruptcy, which would leave shareholders with nothing.
The debt/equity ratio also depends on the industry in which the company operates. For example, capital-intensive industries such as auto manufacturing tend to have a debt/equity ratio above 2, while personal computer companies have a debt/equity of under 0.5.
Investment dictionary. Academic. 2012.
Look at other dictionaries:
debt-equity ratio — ➔ ratio … Financial and business terms
debt/equity ratio — See gearing. Practical Law Dictionary. Glossary of UK, US and international legal terms. www.practicallaw.com. 2010 … Law dictionary
Debt/equity ratio — Indicator of financial leverage. Compares assets provided by creditors to assets provided by shareholders. Determined by dividing long term debt by common stockholder equity. The New York Times Financial Glossary * * * A ratio that measures a… … Financial and business terms
debt/equity ratio — Indicator of financial leverage. Compares assets provided by creditors to assets provided by shareholders. Determined by dividing long term debt by common stockholder equity. Bloomberg Financial Dictionary * * * A ratio that measures a company … Financial and business terms
debt–equity ratio — A ratio used to examine the financial structure or gearing (leverage) of a business. The long term debt, normally including preference shares, of a business is expressed as a percentage of its equity. A business may have entered into an agreement … Accounting dictionary
debt-equity ratio — A ratio used to examine the financial structure or gearing of a business. The long term debt, normally including preference shares, of a business is expressed as a percentage of its equity. A business may have entered into an agreement with a… … Big dictionary of business and management
debt-equity ratio — The ratio of a corporation’s *long term *debt to its *equity. The elements of equity used in the ratio include *common stock, *preferred stock, and *retained earnings. The debt equity ratio measures a corporation’s *leverage … Auditor's dictionary
debt-equity ratio — An amount arrived at by dividing total liabilities by total equity of an entity (e.g., total liabilities of corporation divided by total shareholders equity). A high debt ratio is an indication that the entity may have difficulty meeting… … Black's law dictionary
debt-equity ratio — financial leverage of a business long term loans in relation to its equity serving as a measure of long term financial stability (Accounting) … English contemporary dictionary
debt/equity ratio — Fin the ratio of what a company owes to the value of all of its outstanding shares … The ultimate business dictionary