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Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR)


The Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is a measure in finance that indicates the maximum growth rate a company or business can sustain without having to borrow additional funds or issue more equity. It is calculated based on the company’s profitability, dividend policy, financial leverage, and efficiency at re-investing. If a company grows at a rate higher than its SGR, it will likely need to secure more financing to support that growth.


Sustainable Growth Rate: /səˈsteɪnəbəl ɡroʊθ reɪt/ (SGR: /ˌɛsˌdʒiːˈɑr/)

Key Takeaways

  1. The SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate) is an important indicator in business that estimates the maximum growth rate a company can achieve without resorting to external financing. It quantifies the sustainable amount by which a company can expand using its own operational profits.
  2. SGR is a vital tool for investors and analysts alike. It helps in assessing a company’s efficiency and productivity in using its internal resources. A high SGR often signifies a lucrative investment proposition as it demonstrates the firm’s ability to grow using its own retained earnings.
  3. The SGR is not static and can fluctuate based on changes in the company’s profit margin, financial policy, asset turnover, and other crucial factors. Therefore, it’s important to regularly reassess the SGR for the most accurate view of business potential.


The Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is a crucial business and finance term as it provides a tangible estimate of the maximum growth rate that a company can sustain without utilizing any external financial sources, while maintaining a constant financial structure. It plays an important role in strategic planning and decision-making processes as businesses must strike a balance between rapid growth and financial stability. If a company grows at a rate higher than its SGR, it may have to borrow funds to maintain its operations, potentially incurring larger interest expenses and jeopardizing financial stability. Conversely, if the business grows too slowly, it may miss out on profitable opportunities. Therefore, the determination of SGR helps companies to plan expansion strategies effectively and ensures long-term viability and growth.


The Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is a fundamental concept in business finance aimed at signaling the optimal growth rate a company can achieve without resorting to additional financing. The purpose of SGR is to guide companies in strategizing their growth in a way that capitalizes on their existing operations and financial capabilities. By identifying their SGR, companies can sustainably expand their operations, increase earnings, and improve their market share without reaching out for external funding or debt, thereby maintaining healthy financial ratios and minimizing risk. Companies use Sustainable Growth Rate not only as a tool for planning and controlling growth but also for decision making and strategic management. When a company’s actual growth rate surpasses its SGR, it indicates that the company may be overtrading or overstretching its resources, potentially leading to financial difficulties in the future. On the other hand, if a company’s growth rate is below the SGR, it suggests that the company may not be maximizing its potential. Therefore, SGR serves as a crucial performance metric, impacting investment decisions and the business’s overall financial health.


1. Starbucks: The coffee giant Starbucks has shown a consistent sustainable growth rate over the years. This is due to their balanced reinvestment strategy, reasonable dividend payouts, and profitable utilization of earnings. The company reinvests sufficiently back into the business for future growth and also maintains a reasonable debt level to finance their operations, which is a great example of achieving an optimal SGR.2. Alphabet Inc: Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is another example of a company effectively leveraging SGR. They’re capable of maintaining a high growth rate because the majority of their income is reinvested in the business for innovation and acquisition of new technologies like AI and Machine Learning tools. The company’s profitability enables them to carry out this strategy without increasing their borrowing significantly.3. Walmart: Walmart has been able to maintain a decent SGR over the years. Their strategy is to offer customers low prices every day, which helps them generate consistent sales and cashflows. Additionally, they’ve controlled their external financing by re-investing their earnings and improving operational efficiency. This strategy aligned with the principles of SGR helps the retail giant remain financially stable while experiencing growth.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR)?

Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is a financial metric that delineates the maximum growth rate a company can achieve without requiring any external financing.

How is SGR calculated?

The formula to calculate SGR is: SGR = ROE x (1-Dividend Payout Ratio), where ROE is the return on equity, and the Dividend Payout Ratio is the part of the earnings a company pays out to its shareholders as dividends.

What is the importance of the Sustainable Growth Rate?

The Sustainable Growth Rate is crucial as it helps the company to realize its growth capabilities considering its financial structure. It assists in realizing whether savings and profits can fuel company growth or if external funding is required.

In what ways can a company increase its SGR?

A company can increase its SGR by reinvesting more earnings back into the business (decreasing payout ratio), improving its profit margin, increasing its asset turnover ratio, or by using financial leverage more efficiently.

How does a high SGR impact business?

High SGR denotes that a company can significantly grow by using its profits, rather than relying on borrowed funds or equity fundraising. However, a very high SGR might also imply that the company is not returning sufficient profits back to shareholders in the form of dividends.

What implications does a lower SGR have on a company?

A lower SGR could be an indication that the company may not grow significantly without securing external financing. It could also signify a high dividend payout ratio, which might be attractive for income-oriented investors.

Can SGR be negative?

Yes, SGR can be negative, which implies that the company is shrinking rather than growing. It can result from negative returns, from paying out more dividends than earnings, or from a combination of both.

Is SGR the only measure to consider when evaluating a company’s growth potential?

No, SGR is just one among many indicators. Other metrics like return on investment (ROI), return on assets (ROA), earnings per share (EPS), and various industry-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) should also be considered for a comprehensive analysis.

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