Capitalization Ratios

Definition of 'Capitalization Ratios'


Indicators that measure the proportion of debt in a company’s capital structure. Capitalization ratios include the debt-equity ratio, long-term debt to capitalization ratio and total debt to capitalization ratio. The formula for each of these ratios is shown below.

  • Debt-Equity ratio = Total Debt / Shareholders' Equity                            
  • Long-term Debt to Capitalization = Long-Term Debt / (Long-Term Debt + Shareholders’ Equity)
  • Total Debt to Capitalization = Total Debt / (Total Debt + Shareholders' Equity) 
While a high capitalization ratio can increase the return on equity because of the tax shield of debt, a higher proportion of debt increases the risk of bankruptcy for a company.

Also known as leverage ratios.

Investopedia explains 'Capitalization Ratios'


For example, consider a company with short-term debt of $5 million, long-term debt of $25 million and shareholders’ equity of $50 million. The company’s capitalization ratios would be computed as follows –

  • Debt-Equity ratio = ($5 million + 25 million) / 50 million = 0.60 or 60%
  • Long-term Debt to Capitalization = $25 million / ($25 million + $50 million) = 0.33 or 33%
  • Total Debt to Capitalization = ($5 million + $25 million) / ($5 million + $25 million + $50 million) = 0.375 or 37.5%
The acceptable level of capitalization ratios for a company depends on the industry in which it operates. Companies in sectors such as utilities, pipelines and telecommunications – which are capital intensive and have predictable cash flows – will typically have capitalization ratios on the higher side. Conversely, companies with relatively few assets that can be pledged as collateral – in sectors like technology and retail – will have lower levels of debt and therefore lower capitalization ratios.

The acceptable level of debt for a company is dependent on its whether its cash flows are adequate to service such debt. The interest coverage ratio, another popular leverage ratio, measures the ratio of a company’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) to its interest expense. A ratio of 2, for instance, indicates the company generates $2 for every dollar in interest expense.

As with all ratios, a company’s capitalization ratios should be tracked over time to identify if they are stable. They should also be compared with similar ratios of peer companies, to ascertain the company’s leverage position relative to its peers.


Filed Under:

comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Amplitude

    The difference in price from the midpoint of a trough to the midpoint of a peak of a security. Amplitude is positive when calculating a bullish retracement (when calculating from trough to peak) and negative when calculating a bearish retracement (when calculating from peak to trough).
  2. Ascending Triangle

    A bullish chart pattern used in technical analysis that is easily recognizable by the distinct shape created by two trendlines. In an ascending triangle, one trendline is drawn horizontally at a level that has historically prevented the price from heading higher, while the second trendline connects a series of increasing troughs.
  3. National Best Bid and Offer - NBBO

    A term applying to the SEC requirement that brokers must guarantee customers the best available ask price when they buy securities and the best available bid price when they sell securities.
  4. Maintenance Margin

    The minimum amount of equity that must be maintained in a margin account. In the context of the NYSE and FINRA, after an investor has bought securities on margin, the minimum required level of margin is 25% of the total market value of the securities in the margin account.
  5. Leased Bank Guarantee

    A bank guarantee that is leased to a third party for a specific fee. The issuing bank will conduct due diligence on the creditworthiness of the customer looking to secure a bank guarantee, then lease a guarantee to that customer for a set amount of money and over a set period of time, typically less than two years.
  6. Degree Of Financial Leverage - DFL

    A ratio that measures the sensitivity of a company’s earnings per share (EPS) to fluctuations in its operating income, as a result of changes in its capital structure. Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) measures the percentage change in EPS for a unit change in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).
Trading Center