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Debt-to-Capital Ratio


The debt-to-capital ratio is a financial metric used to assess a company’s financial leverage, expressed as a proportion of its total debt to its total capital. It measures the proportion of a company’s funding that comes from borrowing, compared to equity financing. A higher ratio indicates that a greater portion of the company’s capital structure is financed through debt, which can influence the firm’s risk profile and cost of capital.


The phonetics of the keyword “Debt-to-Capital Ratio” can be transcribed as follows:dɛt tə ˈkæpɪtl ˈreɪʃioʊ

Key Takeaways

  1. Debt-to-Capital Ratio is a financial metric that helps in understanding a company’s financial leverage by comparing its total debt to its total capital. Higher ratios indicate higher financial risk, while lower ratios show lower risk.
  2. The ratio helps investors and lenders to evaluate a company’s capital structure and its ability to meet financial obligations. It also aids in decision-making and helps companies maintain an optimal balance between debt and equity financing.
  3. A healthy Debt-to-Capital Ratio varies by industry and economic conditions, but generally, a ratio under 0.5 or 50% is considered favorable. A higher ratio might indicate the need for a company to raise additional capital or restructure a portion of its debt.


The Debt-to-Capital Ratio is an important business/finance term as it allows stakeholders, including investors, creditors, and management, to assess a company’s financial leverage and overall health. By measuring the proportion of debt a company uses to finance its assets relative to its overall capital, this ratio indicates the level of risk a company is exposed to, with a higher ratio suggesting increased financial risk. Tracking this metric over time helps stakeholders understand a company’s financial stability and risk management approach, as well as its capacity to fulfill debt obligations. A balanced Debt-to-Capital Ratio serves as an indicator of disciplined financial management and enhances the attractiveness of the company to potential stakeholders, thereby contributing to overall business growth and ensuring long-term sustainability.


The Debt-to-Capital Ratio is a critical financial indicator that serves to evaluate a company’s financial stability and overall degree of leverage, which are both key considerations for potential investors and creditors. It essentially determines the proportion of debt a company employs in its capital structure as compared to its shareholders’ equity, thus providing an insight into the company’s management approach when deciding on funding options. By tracking this ratio, market participants can gauge a firm’s financial health and make informed decisions about investing or lending funds. For managers, the debt-to-capital ratio shapes their strategies for the organization’s growth, expansion, and overall handling of risks associated with leverage. Moreover, this ratio is widely used in the context of assessing a company’s capacity to repay its financial obligations and withstand economic downturns. A lower debt-to-capital ratio suggests that a business relies more on equity financing and exhibits a stronger financial position. This, in turn, may lead to a heightened sense of security for investors and creditors, as the company is deemed less susceptible to financial distress or bankruptcy. Conversely, a higher ratio implies a greater reliance on debt financing and a potentially higher likelihood of financial strain. Consequently, businesses need to strike a delicate balance in managing their debt and equity to maintain an optimal debt-to-capital ratio, which depends on their industry, company size, and long-term financial goals.


Example 1 – Apple Inc.As of September 2021, Apple Inc.’s debt-to-capital ratio is roughly 0.53 or 53%. This means that 53% of the company’s capital is financed by debt and the remaining 47% is financed by equity. In this case, Apple’s debt-to-capital ratio shows that it has a balanced financing structure, as it is not heavily reliant on debt for its operations and investments. Example 2 – Inc.As of September 2021, Inc.’s debt-to-capital ratio is approximately 0.32 or 32%. This implies that 32% of Amazon’s capital is funded through debt, while 68% is funded through equity. This low debt-to-capital ratio suggests that Amazon is not dependent on debt for its operations and has a higher degree of financial stability. Example 3 – General Electric Company (GE)As of September 2021, General Electric Company’s debt-to-capital ratio is approximately 0.88 or 88%. This means that 88% of GE’s capital is financed by debt, while only 12% is financed by equity. In this instance, GE’s high debt-to-capital ratio indicates that the company is more reliant on debt financing, which can pose higher financial risk and potential difficulty in meeting its debt obligations, especially during economic downturns.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Debt-to-Capital Ratio?
The Debt-to-Capital Ratio is a financial metric that measures a company’s financial leverage by comparing its total debt to the total capital, which includes both debt and equity. It indicates the proportion of a company’s funding that comes from debt financing as opposed to equity financing.
How is the Debt-to-Capital Ratio calculated?
The Debt-to-Capital Ratio is calculated using the following formula:Debt-to-Capital Ratio = Total Debt / (Total Debt + Shareholders’ Equity)Where Total Debt includes both short-term and long-term debts, and Shareholders’ Equity represents the ownership interest in the company.
What does a high Debt-to-Capital Ratio signify?
A high Debt-to-Capital Ratio indicates that a significant portion of the company’s capital comes from debt. This may suggest that the company has a higher degree of financial risk, as it may have a higher debt burden and interest expenses, making it more vulnerable during economic downturns.
What does a low Debt-to-Capital Ratio signify?
A low Debt-to-Capital Ratio means that a smaller portion of the company’s capital is financed by debt. This generally implies that the company is less reliant on external financing and has a lower financial risk, resulting in a more stable financial position.
How can the Debt-to-Capital Ratio vary across industries?
The Debt-to-Capital Ratio can vary widely across industries due to differences in capital requirements, growth rates, and financial structures. For instance, capital-intensive industries like utilities and infrastructure might have higher Debt-to-Capital Ratios, while technology and software companies might have lower ratios due to lesser capital requirements.
How should investors use the Debt-to-Capital Ratio?
Investors can use the Debt-to-Capital Ratio to evaluate a company’s financial leverage and compare it with other companies in the same industry. It’s important to consider this metric in conjunction with other financial indicators to make a comprehensive assessment of the company’s financial health and risk profile.

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