Definition of 'Gearing Ratio'
A general term describing a financial ratio that compares some form of owner's equity (or capital) to borrowed funds. Gearing is a measure of financial leverage, demonstrating the degree to which a firm's activities are funded by owner's funds versus creditor's funds.
Also known as the Net Gearing Ratio.
Investopedia explains 'Gearing Ratio'
The higher a company's degree of leverage, the more the company is considered risky. As for most ratios, an acceptable level is determined by its comparison to ratios of companies in the same industry. The best known examples of gearing ratios include the debt-to-equity ratio (total debt / total equity), times interest earned (EBIT / total interest), equity ratio (equity / assets), and debt ratio (total debt / total assets).
A company with high gearing (high leverage) is more vulnerable to downturns in the business cycle because the company must continue to service its debt regardless of how bad sales are. A greater proportion of equity provides a cushion and is seen as a measure of financial strength.