Financial leverage can be defined as the degree to which a company uses fixed-income securities, such as debt and preferred equity. With a high degree of financial leverage come high interest payments. As a result, the bottom-line earnings per share is negatively affected by interest payments. As interest payments increase as a result of increased financial leverage, EPS is driven lower.

As mentioned previously, financial risk is the risk to the stockholders that is caused by an increase in debt and preferred equities in a company's capital structure. As a company increases debt and preferred equities, interest payments increase, reducing EPS. As a result, risk to stockholder return is increased. A company should keep its optimal capital structure in mind when making financing decisions to ensure any increases in debt and preferred equity increase the value of the company.

Degree of Financial Leverage
This measures the percentage change in earnings per share over the percentage change in EBIT. This is known as "degree of financial leverage" (DFL). It is the measure of the sensitivity of EPS to changes in EBIT as a result of changes in debt.

Formula 11.19

DFL = percentage change in EPS or EBIT
           percentage change in EBIT    EBIT-interest
A shortcut to keep in mind with DFL is that, if interest is 0, then the DLF will be equal to 1.

Example: Degree of Financial Leverage
With Newco's current production, its sales are $7 million annually. The company's variable costs of sales are 40% of sales, and its fixed costs are $2.4 million. The company's annual interest expense amounts to $100,000 annually. If we increase Newco's EBIT by 20%, how much will the company's EPS increase?

Answer:
The company's DFL is calculated as follows:
DFL = ($7,000,000-$2,800,000-$2,400,000)/($7,000,000-$2,800,000-$2,400,000-$100,000)
DFL = $1,800,000/$1,700,000 = 1.058

Given the company's 20% increase in EBIT, the DFL indicates EPS will increase 21.2%.



Sales and Leverage

Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes)

    Earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT, takes a company’s revenue, or earnings, and subtracts its cost of goods sold and operating expenses.
  2. Investing

    The Operating Leverage And DOL

    Operating leverage tells investors about the relationship between a company's fixed and variable costs. The higher a company's fixed costs in relation to its variable costs, the greater its operating ...
  3. Trading

    The Basics of Forex Leveraging

    A closer look at the controversial topic of leverage in forex trading.
  4. Investing

    Reinvesting Capital Gains In Leveraged Portfolios

    Don't get forced into action. Learn how to plan properly to avoid making rash decisions.
  5. Trading

    How Much Leverage Is Right for You in Forex Trades

    It isn’t economics or global finance that trip up first-time forex traders. Instead, a basic lack of knowledge on how to use leverage is at the root of trading losses.
  6. Investing

    Leverage: What It Is And How It Works

    Leverage is an investment strategy of using borrowed money to generate outsized investment returns. Before getting into greater detail on how leverage works in an investment context, it is useful ...
  7. Investing

    Why Leveraged Investments Sink

    This powerful tool can have you swimming in money or drowning in underwater equity.
  8. Investing

    4 Mistakes to Avoid When Trading Leveraged ETFs

    Learn the common mistakes made with leveraged ETFs, and discover how you can lose money even if you are right on the direction of a market sector.
  9. Investing

    4 Leverage Ratios Used In Evaluating Energy Firms

    These four leverage ratios can help investors understand how oil and gas firms are managing their debt.
  10. Investing

    Leverage's "Double-Edged Sword" Need Not Cut Deep

    Learn to cut out losses quickly, leaving profits room to grow.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What are Some Examples of Free Market Economies?

    Learn which of the world's economies best resemble free market economies, marked by free trade, low government involvement, ...
  2. Who Decides When to Print money in India?

    Find out the role of the Reserve Bank of India, or RBI, and the amount of authority given to the government. Learn who is ...
  3. What is the Difference Between a Forward Rate and a Spot Rate?

    Learn about spot and forward contracts, how spot and forward rates are used for spot and forward contracts, and the difference ...
  4. What are Some Examples of Stratified Random Sampling?

    Learn what simple random sampling and stratified random sampling are, some examples of stratified random samples, and how ...
Trading Center