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CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

Trading Terms

Debt ratio: understanding concept, calculation & analysis

Debt ratio: metric that measures the proportion of a company's debt to its assets.

In the realm of finance, the debt ratio serves as a fundamental metric for assessing the financial health of individuals and businesses alike. It provides insights into the extent to which borrowed funds contribute to an entity's overall capital structure.

It is essentially a measure of how much of an entity's assets are financed through debt and it is calculated by dividing the total debt by the total assets.

A higher value indicates a larger proportion of assets financed through debt, potentially indicating a higher level of financial risk. Conversely, a lower figure suggests a more conservative financial approach, with a smaller proportion of assets dependent on borrowed funds.

This ratio alone does not provide a comprehensive analysis of an entity's financial position. Other factors such as industry norms, profitability, and cash flow must also be taken into consideration.

Debt ratio is particularly crucial when considering potential investments or evaluating the financial stability of a business. It enables investors, creditors, and stakeholders to gauge the level of risk associated with an entity's debt load.

What is the debt ratio?

The debt ratio is like a special tool that helps us understand a company’s money situation. It’s a simple math formula that tells us how much of a company’s things are paid for with borrowed money.

Imagine a company is like a big pie. Everything the company owns, like buildings, machines, and money, makes up this pie. Now, the debt ratio helps us see how big a slice of this pie is covered by debts or loans.

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Debt ratio vs debt-to-equity ratio

When analyzing the financial structure of an entity, two important metrics come into play: the debt ratio and the debt-to-equity ratio. While both provide insights into an entity's reliance on debt, they differ in their calculation and interpretation.

The debt ratio, as discussed earlier, measures the proportion of an entity's assets that are financed through debt. It is calculated by dividing the total debt by the total assets.


On the other hand, the debt-to-equity ratio focuses on the relationship between debt and equity financing.

It indicates the proportion of debt relative to equity, which represents the ownership stake in the entity. It is calculated by dividing the total debt by the total equity.


An example

Entity A has total assets of $500,000 and total liabilities (debt) of $200,000. The equity (ownership stake) in the entity is $300,000.


From the calculation above, we can see that 40% of Entity A assets are financed through debt. On the other hand, the debt-to-equity ratio is 67%, suggesting that the entity has more debt relative to its equity.

In practical terms, a higher debt ratio indicates a greater reliance on debt financing, while a higher debt-to-equity ratio suggests a higher level of financial risk due to a larger proportion of debt in relation to equity.

It is important to note that both of them have their merits and limitations, and their interpretation may vary across industries. Therefore, it is crucial to consider industry norms and compare the ratios with benchmarks specific to the sector in which the entity operates.

What is a good or bad debt ratio?

Determining whether a debt ratio is good or bad depends on several factors, including industry norms, financial goals, and risk tolerance. While there is no universally applicable benchmark, understanding the implications of different values can help guide financial decision-making.

  • Total debts: This is all the money the company owes to others.
  • Total assets: This is everything the company owns.
  • Low debt ratio: If the result is a small number (like 0.2 or 20%), it means the company doesn’t owe a lot compared to what it owns. This is usually a good sign. A lower debt ratio indicates a healthier financial position. It suggests a smaller proportion of an entity's assets are financed through debt, which can be seen as a positive sign of financial stability and a lower risk of default.
  • High debt ratio: If the result is a big number (like 0.7 or 70%), it means the company owes a lot compared to what it owns. This could be risky. Conversely, a higher debt ratio may raise concerns about ability to meet debt obligations and financial risks. This is because a larger proportion of assets are financed through debt, which can strain cash flow and limit financial flexibility.
  • To assess a business' financial health, it is crucial to compare its debt ratio to industry peers or sector benchmarks. For example, a debt ratio of 40% might be considered high in a sector where the average is 20%, while the same ratio could be deemed acceptable in an industry where the norm is around 50%.
  • In addition, it is essential to consider other financial indicators and qualitative factors, such as profitability, cash flow, and the entity's long-term growth prospects.

Just like a doctor checks your health, the debt ratio checks a company’s financial health. A company with a low debt ratio is an indication of good standing and has a lower risk for the company and potential investors.

A company with a high debt ratio might be like a person needing to be careful about their health. It has more risk.

The final goal is to strike a balance between debt and equity financing that aligns with the entity's financial objectives and risk appetite. A prudent approach involves managing debt levels in a way that supports growth, preserves financial stability, and ensures the ability to meet debt obligations in a timely manner.

Why are debt ratios important for traders?

Understanding the debt ratio is crucial for traders as it provides insights into a company’s financial stability and risk level. A company’s reliance on debt affects its profitability and can influence its stock price, making the debt ratio a valuable tool for making informed trading decisions.

The debt ratio helps traders evaluate how financially stable a company is. A lower debt ratio indicates that a company is less reliant on borrowed money, suggesting a stronger financial position. This stability can make the company’s stocks more attractive to investors, potentially leading to price appreciation.

A higher debt ratio indicates a higher level of debt compared to assets, which can be a red flag for traders. Companies with high debt ratios may face challenges in repaying their debts, especially if their earnings are volatile. This increased risk can lead to stock price volatility, which traders need to be aware of.

By analyzing the debt ratio, traders can make more informed decisions about which stocks to buy or sell. It allows them to identify companies that are financially sound and avoid those that may be facing financial difficulties.

The debt ratio is also useful for comparative analysis. Traders can compare the debt ratios of companies within the same industry to identify which ones are in a stronger financial position. This comparison can be a critical factor in choosing where to invest.

Understanding a company’s debt ratio can also aid in developing trading strategies. For example, traders might choose to short stocks of companies with high debt ratios, anticipating potential price declines. Alternatively, they might go long on stocks of companies with low debt ratios, expecting stability and growth.

How to reduce debt ratio

Reducing the debt ratio is a crucial step towards achieving a healthier financial position. By effectively managing debt and improving the overall financial structure, individuals and businesses can enhance their financial stability and flexibility.

  1. Begin by prioritizing debt repayment: Create a budget that allocates a significant portion of your income towards paying off outstanding debts.
  2. Explore opportunities to increase your cash flow: Increasing your income will provide more financial resources to allocate towards debt repayment, ultimately reducing your debt ratio over time.
  3. Review expenses and identify areas where you can make cuts: Trim unnecessary expenses to free up more funds for debt repayment. Consider renegotiating contracts or subscriptions, buying used items instead of new ones, and finding ways to save money.
  4. If you find yourself struggling to meet debt obligations: Consider reaching out to your creditors. They may be open to negotiating new repayment terms, such as lower interest rates, extended repayment periods, or even partial debt forgiveness.
  5. To effectively reduce the debt ratio: It is essential to avoid taking on new debt whenever possible. Assess the necessity of any new unnecessary expense, loans or financing options.
  6. If you find yourself overwhelmed: Or unsure about the best approach to reduce your debt ratio, consider seeking professional advice. Financial advisors or credit counselors can provide personalized guidance and help you develop a comprehensive debt repayment plan.

Remember, reducing the debt ratio is a long-term process that requires discipline and commitment. It may take time to see significant improvements, but by implementing these strategies consistently, you can gradually lower your debt ratio and improve your overall financial health.

Understanding and effectively managing your debt ratio is key to securing a stronger financial future in line with your trading style. By implementing strategies to reduce debt, staying mindful of industry benchmarks, and making informed financial decisions, you can pave the way for greater stability, flexibility, and long-term success. Take control of your debt ratio and unlock the path to financial well-being.

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1. Can a high debt ratio be a good thing?

While a high debt ratio can raise concerns about financial risk and the ability to meet debt obligations, it may not always be a negative sign. Some industries, such as real estate or utilities, naturally have higher debt ratios due to their capital-intensive nature.

2. Can the debt ratio be negative?

No, the debt ratio cannot be negative. A negative debt ratio would imply that the total debt is greater than the total assets, which is not possible.

3. How frequently should I monitor my debt ratio?

It is advisable to monitor your debt ratio regularly, especially when significant financial changes occur. This can include taking on new debt, paying off existing debt, or experiencing fluctuations in asset values.

4. Does the debt ratio consider different types of debt?

The debt ratio considers all types of debt, including long-term loans, short-term obligations, and any other forms of borrowed funds. It provides a comprehensive assessment of an entity's overall debt burden in relation to its assets.

5. Can I compare the debt ratio of different companies?

While comparing debt ratios between companies can provide insights into their relative financial structures, it is important to consider industry norms, business models, and other contextual factors. Industries vary significantly in their debt financing requirements, and what may be considered a good debt ratio in one sector may not hold true for another.

Next steps

Skilling stands as a robust trading platform, offering traders a wealth of resources and tools to analyze financial data. Our user-friendly interface, educational materials, and real-time trading capabilities empower traders to make informed decisions and seize market opportunities, ensuring you are well-equipped to navigate the markets and enhance your trading strategies.

Start your trading journey with a reliable and trusted partner, join Skilling today!

Not investment advice. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance.

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