FAM/U4 Topic 1 Solvency Ratios
Solvency Ratios also known as leverage ratios determine an entity’s ability to service its debt. So these ratios calculate if the company can meet its long-term debt. It is important since the investors would like to know about the solvency of the firm to meet their interest payments and to ensure that their investments are safe. Hence solvency ratios compare the levels of debt with equity, fixed assets, earnings of the company etc.
One thing to make note of is the difference between solvency ratios and liquidity ratios. These two are often confused for the other. Liquidity ratios compare current assets with current liabilities, i.e. short-term debt. Whereas solvency ratios analyze the ability to pay long-term debt.
1) Debt to Equity Ratio
The debt to equity ratio measures the relationship between long-term debt of a firm and its total equity. Since both these figures are obtained from the balance sheet itself, this is a balance sheet ratio. Let us take a look at the formula:
The debt-equity ratio holds a lot of significance. Firstly it is a great way for the company to measure its leverage or indebtedness. A low ratio means the firm is more financially secure, but it also means that the equity is diluted.
In contrast, a high ratio indicates a risky business where there are more creditors of the firm than there are investors. In fact, a high debt to equity ratio may deter more investors from investing in the firm, and even deter creditors from lending money.
While there is no industry standard as such it is best to keep this ratio as low as possible. The maximum a company should maintain is the ratio of 2:1, i.e. twice the amount of debt to equity.
2) Debt Ratio
Next, we learn about debt ratio. This ratio measures the long-term debt of a firm in comparison to its total capital employed. Alternatively, instead of capital employed, we can use net fixed assets. So the debt ratio will measure the liabilities (long-term) of a firm as a percent of its long-term assets. The formula is as follows:
This is one of the more important solvency ratios. It indicates the financial leverage of the firm. A low ratio points to a more financially stable business, better for the creditors. A higher ratio points to doubts about the firms long-term financial stability. But a higher ratio helps the management with trading on equity, i.e. earn more income for the shareholders. Again there is no industry standard for this ratio.
3) Proprietary Ratio
The third of the solvency ratios is the proprietary ratio or equity ratio. It expresses the relationship between the proprietor’s funds, i.e. the funds of all the shareholders and the capital employed or the net assets. Like the debt ratio shows us the comparison between debt and capital, this ratio shows the comparison between owners funds and total capital or net assets. The ratio is as follows:
A high ratio is a good indication of the financial health of the firm. It means that a larger portion of the total capital comes from equity. Or that a larger portion of net assets is financed by equity rather than debt. One point to note, that when both ratios are calculated with the same denominator, the sum of debt ratio and the proprietary ratio will be 1.
4) Interest Coverage Ratio
All debt has a cost, which we normally term as an interest. Debentures, loans, deposits etc all have an interest cost. This ratio will measure the security of this interest payable on long-term debt. It is the ratio between the profits of a firm available and the interest payable on debt instruments. The formula is: