Leverage Ratio

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DEFINITION of 'Leverage Ratio'

1. Any ratio used to calculate the financial leverage of a company to get an idea of the company's methods of financing or to measure its ability to meet financial obligations. There are several different ratios, but the main factors looked at include debt, equity, assets and interest expenses.

2. A ratio used to measure a company's mix of operating costs, giving an idea of how changes in output will affect operating income. Fixed and variable costs are the two types of operating costs; depending on the company and the industry, the mix will differ.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Leverage Ratio'

1. The most well known financial leverage ratio is the debt-to-equity ratio. For example, if a company has $10M in debt and $20M in equity, it has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.5 ($10M/$20M).

2. Companies with high fixed costs, after reaching the breakeven point, see a greater increase in operating revenue when output is increased compared to companies with high variable costs. The reason for this is that the costs have already been incurred, so every sale after the breakeven transfers to the operating income. On the other hand, a high variable cost company sees little increase in operating income with additional output, because costs continue to be imputed into the outputs. The degree of operating leverage is the ratio used to calculate this mix and its effects on operating income.

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