Debt to Equity Ratio & Debt to Capital Employed

Debt to Equity

The Debt-to-Equity (D/E) ratio is a financial metric that compares a company’s total debt to its shareholder equity. It measures the degree to which a company finances its operations through debt rather than wholly owned funds. This ratio is essential for investors, analysts, and creditors because it provides insights into a company’s financial leverage and risk profile.

Debt to Equity

The Debt-to-Equity ratio is calculated using the following formula:

Debt-to-Equity Ratio=Total Liabilities / Shareholder’s Equity

Some formula variations specifically consider interest-bearing long-term debt instead of total liabilities to focus on a company’s long-term leverage.


  • Total Liabilities: This includes a company’s current and long-term debt obligations. It can consist of loans, bonds payable, mortgages, deferred revenues, and other financial liabilities.
  • Shareholder’s Equity: Also known as stockholders’ equity, this represents the residual interest in a company’s assets after deducting liabilities. The amount of money would be returned to shareholders if all the assets were liquidated and all the company’s debts were paid off.


  • High D/E Ratio: A higher ratio suggests that a company might be at risk if it cannot meet its debt obligations, especially in a downturn. However, this can also indicate that a company is aggressively financing its growth with debt, which can be expected in specific industries.
  • Low D/E Ratio: A lower ratio indicates that a company is less reliant on debt to finance its operations, which could mean it has less financial risk. However, the company needs to take advantage of the potential growth benefits of financial leverage.

Industry Variance

The acceptable debt-to-equity ratio varies by industry due to differences in capital intensity. For example, industries like utilities and telecommunications typically have higher D/E ratios due to the high infrastructure cost, whereas technology companies might have lower ratios as they require less capital investment.


The Debt-to-Equity (D/E) ratio is a crucial financial metric that provides insights into a company’s financial health and risk profile.

  • Leverage and Financial Risk Assessment:
      • The D/E ratio indicates how much a company relies on debt to finance its assets. A high ratio means a company is mainly funded by debt, which can increase financial risk and strain cash flow due to interest payments.
  • Investor Insight:
      • For investors, the D/E ratio is essential for a company’s risk profile. A high ratio means higher risk but potential for higher returns, while a low ratio suggests a conservative approach with lower financial risk and possibly lower returns.
  • Creditworthiness:
      • Creditors use the D/E ratio to assess a company’s ability to repay its debts. A lower ratio is generally preferable from a creditor’s perspective, as it indicates a more substantial equity base and potentially better liquidity, reducing the risk of default.
  • Comparative Analysis:
      • The D/E ratio allows for comparing companies within the same industry, offering insights into their financial strategies and risk levels. Since acceptable D/E ratios vary across sectors, understanding industry norms is crucial for making informed comparisons.
  • Strategic Decision-Making:
      • Understanding the D/E ratio helps company management make informed strategic decisions regarding capital structure, financing, and investment. Management may optimise the company’s D/E ratio to balance risk and return, attract investment, and ensure sustainability.
  • Growth Financing:
      • Manageable debt and a healthy D/E ratio can help companies secure financing for expansion or new projects. Debt can be cheaper than equity, making it attractive for growth-oriented companies in low-interest rate periods.
  • Market Perception:
      • The D/E ratio affects how the market views a company. A high D/E ratio, significantly above industry norms, may raise concerns about financial stability and long-term viability, impacting stock price and investment attraction.
  • Tax Efficiency:
    • Debt can help companies save on taxes because interest payments are tax-deductible. However, companies must balance tax benefits with avoiding excessive leverage, which is where the D/E ratio comes in.

Debt to Capital Employed

The Debt-to-Capital Employed ratio compares a company’s total debt with its capital employed to provide insight into its financial structure. It helps understand the proportion of operations financed through debt and offers a view of its leverage and economic stability.


The Debt to Capital Employed ratio is calculated using the following formula:

Debt to Capital Employed Ratio = Total Debt / Total Capital Employed


  • Total debt includes both short-term and long-term borrowings from the company.
  • Total Capital Employed can be calculated as Total Assets minus Current Liabilities or Equity plus Total Debt, reflecting the total capital utilised in the company’s operations.


  • Total Debt: This encompasses all of the company’s debt obligations, including bonds, loans, and any other forms of borrowing, both in the short term and the long term.
  • Total Capital Employed: This represents the total capital used in the business to generate earnings. It includes equity and debt, signifying the total resources available to the company for its operations.


  • Higher Ratio: A high Debt-to-Capital Employed ratio indicates higher financial risk. Due to the burden of debt repayment, companies with high leverage may need help during economic downturns.
  • Lower Ratio: A lower debt-to-equity ratio indicates a more conservative financing approach, potentially reducing financial risk but limiting growth if the company is too cautious about taking on debt.


  • Leverage Analysis helps assess a company’s leverage level, indicating how much of the capital employed is financed through debt. High leverage can increase returns but also raise financial risk.
  • Financial Stability: By understanding the proportion of debt in the capital structure, stakeholders can gauge the economy’s stability and risk profile. Companies with lower debt levels are generally considered to have a more stable financial position.
  • Investment Decision Making: Investors use this ratio to determine the risk of investing in a company. A balanced Debt-to-Capital Employed ratio suggests prudent financial management, making the company more attractive to investors.
  • Comparison: This ratio allows for comparison across companies and industries, helping stakeholders understand industry norms and identify outliers with either exceptionally high or low levels of debt financing.
  • Creditworthiness: Creditors may assess a Company’s Debt-to-Capital Employed ratio to evaluate its ability to meet its debt obligations. A healthier (lower) ratio may indicate a lower risk of default, potentially leading to better borrowing terms.

The capital-employed ratio is a crucial tool in financial analysis. It offers insights into a company’s leverage, economic strategy, and risk management practices. It aids in making informed decisions regarding investment, lending, and company management.


Comparing the amount of money invested versus equity and total capital employed is crucial, and there are two critical parameters to consider: Debt-to-Equity and Debt-to-Capital Employed ratios. The D/E ratio examines a company’s debt relative to its equity, focusing on the proportion of shareholder funds versus borrowed funds. On the other hand, the Capital Employed ratio considers the company’s total capitalisation (debt + equity) and the percentage financed through debt. Both methods are helpful and can be used in conjunction to make informed investment decisions.

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