Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E)


The Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) is a financial metric that measures a company’s financial leverage by comparing its total debt to its total shareholders’ equity. It serves as an indicator of a company’s ability to repay its debts using shareholders’ equity. A higher D/E ratio implies that the company has more debt in relation to its equity, which may indicate a higher financial risk for investors.


The phonetics of the keyword “Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E)” would be:Debt: dɛbtto: tuEquity:ˈɛkwɪtiRatio:ˈreɪʃiˌoʊD: dislash: slæʃE: iWhen put together: dɛbt tu ˈɛkwɪti ˈreɪʃiˌoʊ (di slæʃ i)

Key Takeaways

  1. Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) is a financial metric that compares a company’s total debt to its shareholders’ equity. This ratio is used to evaluate a company’s financial leverage, which involves using borrowed funds to finance a company’s assets.
  2. A higher D/E ratio indicates higher financial risk, as it suggests that the company is relying more on debt to finance its assets. A lower D/E ratio indicates lower financial risk, as the company is less reliant on debt and more on shareholders’ equity for financing. The ideal D/E ratio varies by industry, but generally, a ratio below 1 is considered healthy.
  3. Investors and analysts use the Debt-to-Equity Ratio to evaluate a company’s financial health and risk profile. Higher ratios can signal the potential for financial distress or even bankruptcy in the event of a market downturn or increased interest rates. However, a low D/E ratio doesn’t always guarantee a company’s financial stability, as it may also indicate a lack of growth or expansion.


The Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) is an important financial metric in business and finance, as it provides valuable insight into a company’s financial leverage, stability, and overall capital structure. By comparing the proportion of a company’s debt relative to its shareholders’ equity, investors and analysts can assess the organization’s ability to handle its financial obligations, evaluate long-term solvency, and determine the levels of risk associated with the firm. A higher D/E ratio indicates that a company is financing its operations primarily through debt, which may lead to higher interest expenses and greater financial vulnerability, while a lower ratio signifies it relies more on its equity. Consequently, the D/E ratio serves as a critical tool for decision-making, determining creditworthiness, and identifying the financial health of a company.


The purpose of the Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) is to assess a company’s financial leverage by examining the proportion of debt and equity it relies on to finance its operations and growth. This ratio serves as a crucial indicator for investors and creditors, who use it to evaluate the risk and stability associated with investing in a particular company. A company’s financial health can be determined by examining its D/E ratio, as it offers valuable insights into the organization’s capital structure and how effectively it utilizes debt to generate returns for shareholders. Moreover, the ratio allows for comparison between companies within the same industry to benchmark performance and evaluate relative risks. The D/E ratio carries significant implications when it comes to a company’s financial management and decision-making process. Tracking the right balance between debt and equity is necessary for ensuring that the company does not become overly reliant on external financing, as this can increase its financial risk and lead to insolvency if the company is unable to address its liabilities. Consequently, the D/E ratio enables management teams to evaluate the effectiveness of their financing strategies in delivering growth while maintaining debt at manageable levels. As a result, organizations can make informed decisions about leveraging debt for financing expansion, acquisitions, or simply reducing their reliance on outside financing to minimize risk and maximize shareholder value.


1. Tesla Inc. (Automaker)In 2020, Tesla reported a Debt-to-Equity Ratio of 0.63. This means that for every $1 of equity that the company has, it has $0.63 in debt. Compared to other traditional automakers like Ford or General Motors, this ratio is considered relatively low, indicating Tesla has a moderate leverage and has relied less heavily on debt for growth. It demonstrates the company’s ability to maintain a comparatively stable capital structure and shows potential investors that Tesla has not overly relied on external financing. 2. Amazon Inc. (E-commerce and Cloud Computing)As of the end of 2020, Amazon had a Debt-to-Equity Ratio of 1.08. This figure reflects that the company has more debt than equity, with $1.08 of debt for every $1 of equity. A higher D/E ratio is not uncommon for large companies, such as Amazon, to finance their growth and expansion. Despite a higher ratio, it does not necessarily mean that Amazon is at a high risk, as the company generates enough income to support its debt level. 3. Apple Inc. (Consumer Electronics)In 2020, Apple Inc. had a Debt-to-Equity Ratio of 1.57. For every $1 in equity, they had $1.57 in debt, suggesting a higher reliance on borrowings to fund the business compared to Tesla or Amazon. Apple’s D/E ratio has increased over time as the company has taken on more debt for several purposes, such as funding share buybacks, dividend payments, and business expansions. While the ratio is higher, Apple’s strong cash flow and profitability make it well-positioned to manage its debt, and potential investors may still consider it an attractive investment due to other financial metrics.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E)?
The Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) is a financial metric that compares a company’s total debt to its total shareholders’ equity. The D/E ratio indicates the proportion of a company’s funding that comes from debt (borrowed money) in relation to equity (shareholders’ investments). It is commonly used to assess a company’s financial leverage and risk exposure.
How is the Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) calculated?
The Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) is calculated by dividing a company’s total liabilities (debt) by its total shareholders’ equity. Here’s the formula:Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) = Total Liabilities / Total Shareholders’ Equity
Why is the Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) important to businesses and investors?
The D/E ratio is important because it provides insight into a company’s financial stability and risk profile. A higher D/E ratio implies that a company relies more on borrowed money to finance its activities, which can be seen as risky. On the other hand, a lower D/E ratio indicates that a company relies less on debt and is considered more financially stable. Investors and lenders often use the D/E ratio to determine a company’s creditworthiness and compare the financial health of different companies within the same industry.
What is considered a good Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E)?
There is no universal “good” Debt-to-Equity Ratio, as it varies depending on the industry and the company’s specific financial situation. Generally, a lower D/E ratio is preferred, as it indicates lower financial risk. However, some industries, such as capital-intensive industries like utilities or telecommunications, naturally have higher D/E ratios due to their reliance on debt for funding large projects. It is essential to compare a company’s D/E ratio with industry averages and competitors to get a better understanding of its relative financial health.
Can a company have a negative Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E)?
Yes, a company can have a negative Debt-to-Equity Ratio if its shareholders’ equity is negative. This situation can occur when a company has accumulated more losses over time than the amount invested by shareholders, resulting in the erosion of equity. A negative D/E ratio is generally considered a red flag for investors, as it implies financial instability and potential solvency issues.
How does the Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) affect a company’s cost of capital?
The Debt-to-Equity Ratio (D/E) influences a company’s cost of capital, known as the weighted average cost of capital (WACC). A higher D/E ratio may result in a higher cost of capital because it indicates higher financial risk, and investors would expect higher returns to compensate for that additional risk. Conversely, a lower D/E ratio implies lower financial risk and may result in a lower cost of capital. Companies should strive to optimize their capital structure to find the right balance between debt and equity, providing the lowest possible cost of capital.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More