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Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio


The Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio is a financial metric that measures a company’s financial leverage. It essentially compares the company’s debt to its total capitalization, which is the sum of debt and shareholders’ equity. A higher ratio indicates that a company is primarily financing its operations through debt, rather than equity.


Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio is pronounced as: “lawng-term debt too kap-i-tuh-luh-zay-shun ray-shee-oh”

Key Takeaways

  1. A Measure of Financial Leverage: The Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio is a financial metric used to evaluate a company’s financial leverage. It compares a company’s long-term debt to its available capital, thereby indicating how much the company relies on debt to finance its activities.
  2. Interpretation of the Ratio: A high ratio suggests that a company is substantially funded by debt, which can be risky as it indicates significant financial obligations in the long term. Conversely, a low ratio may suggest that the company is primarily financed by equity, which can be a more stable but potentially less profitable funding source.
  3. Critical in Financial Analysis: This ratio is critical in financial analysis for investors, creditors, and other stakeholders as it gives insights into the company’s capital structure and financial stability. It can be used to compare companies in the same industry or to benchmark against industry averages. However, this ratio should not be looked at in isolation but along with other metrics to get a comprehensive view of the company’s financial health.


The Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio is an important measure in business and finance as it reveals a company’s financial leverage. This ratio indicates the extent to which a company is funding its operations through debt, as compared to other funding sources such as equity. Investors and creditors use it to analyze the capital structure of a company and its ability to cover its long-term debt. A higher ratio indicates a more debt-reliant entity, whilst a lower ratio suggests greater reliance on shareholder equity. Therefore, it’s crucial in assessing the financial stability and long-term solvency of a firm, enabling stakeholders to make more informed decisions.


The Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio is a vital financial metric used by businesses, financial analysts, and potential investors to assess a company’s financial structure and understand how its operations are financed. This ratio essentially provides an overview of a company’s financial leverage and is often used to gauge the degree to which a company is taking on debts as a means of business operation financing. Higher ratios indicate that a company is financing its business more through debt, which could translate to higher risk, while lower ratios often demonstrate that a company relies more on equity financing, which is typically seen as a safer route.The Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio serves several purposes. Firstly, it provides insights into a company’s financial stability – a higher ratio suggests a company is taking on substantial long-term debt and may face greater difficulties in repaying these liabilities, thus indicating higher financial risk. Additionally, the ratio helps potential investors to decide whether to invest in a company by revealing the level of risk involved. If a company has a high Long-Term Debt to Capitalization ratio, investors might be wary of investing since it implies that the company is heavily dependent on debt to finance its operations. Nevertheless, some investors might be willing to take the risk if they anticipate high returns. This ratio, therefore, is a valuable tool for making more informed investment and business decisions.


1. Example 1: Apple, Inc.As of 2020, Apple Inc. held a long-term debt of approximately $107 billion. The company’s total capitalization (which consists of debt and shareholder equity) was about $2.0 trillion. Therefore, Apple Inc.’s long-term debt to capitalization ratio was 0.05 or 5%. This means only 5% of the company’s capital was financed with long-term debt, indicating Apple’s financial health and minimal reliance on debt to fund its operations and growth.2. Example 2: Tesla, Inc.In 2020, Tesla, Inc. had around $10 billion in long-term debt and a total capitalization of approximately $616 billion. Therefore, Tesla, Inc.’s long-term debt to capitalization ratio was 0.016 or 1.6%. This indicates a low reliance on long-term debt and demonstrates the company’s sound financial footing.3. Example 3 : General Electric (GE)Back in 2018, General Electric had a significant amount of long-term debt, approximately $110 billion, while its total capitalization was about $238 billion. This put GE’s long-term Debt to Capitalization ratio at 0.46 or 46%. Meaning that a significant part of their capitalization, almost half, was financed through long-term debt. This could signal potential financial risk if the company faced issues in servicing this debt.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio?

The Long-Term Debt to Capitalization ratio is a financial metric that illustrates a company’s financial leverage. It shows the proportion of a company’s capital structure that is comprised of long-term debt. It helps investors and analysts evaluate a company’s financial structure and its ability to meet its long-term obligations.

How is the Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio calculated?

This ratio is calculated by dividing a company’s long-term debt by its available capital (the sum of its shareholders’ equity and long-term debt). In other words, Long-term Debt to Capitalization Ratio = Long-term Debt / (Long-term Debt + Shareholders’ Equity).

What does a high Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio indicate?

A high ratio suggests that a company has a high level of long-term debt compared to its equity capital, which means it is heavily financed by debt. It can indicate greater potential rewards for shareholders, but at the risk of financial instability if the debt cannot be serviced.

What does a low Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio represent?

A low ratio generally indicates that a company is less dependent on borrowed money and has a strong equity position. It can be interpreted as the company being conservative, using less debt, which can mean less risk, but it could also imply a lower return on equity for shareholders.

How is the Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio used by investors?

Investors use this ratio to determine the financial health and stability of a company. Improvement in this ratio over time usually indicates better financial health. Conversely, a worsening ratio can signal potential financial distress. It can also be used to compare a firm’s financial structure with its competitors or industry average.

Is a low or a high Long-Term Debt to Capitalization Ratio better?

It depends on the context. A lower ratio can indicate financial stability, but potentially lower returns, while a higher ratio can indicate high returns but increased risk. The ideal ratio varies by industry, as capital requirements differ significantly. Investors need to consider these factors carefully before making decisions based on this ratio.

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