What Is the Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio?

The fixed-charge coverage ratio (FCCR) measures a firm's ability to cover its fixed charges, such as debt payments, interest expense, and equipment lease expense. It shows how well a company's earnings can cover its fixed expenses. Banks will often look at this ratio when evaluating whether to lend money to a business.

Key Takeaways

  • The fixed-charge coverage ratio (FCCR) shows how well a company's earnings can be used to cover its fixed charges such as rent, utilities, and debt payments.
  • Lenders often use the fixed-charge coverage ratio to assess a company's overall creditworthiness.
  • A high FCCR ratio result indicates that a company can adequately cover fixed charges based on its current earnings alone.
1:46

Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio

The Formula for the Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio Is:

FCCR=EBIT+FCBTFCBT+iwhere:EBIT=earnings before interest and taxesFCBT=fixed charges before taxi=interest\begin{aligned} &FCCR = \frac{EBIT + FCBT}{FCBT + i} \\ &\textbf{where:}\\ &EBIT=\text{earnings before interest and taxes}\\ &FCBT=\text{fixed charges before tax}\\ &i=\text{interest}\\ \end{aligned}FCCR=FCBT+iEBIT+FCBTwhere:EBIT=earnings before interest and taxesFCBT=fixed charges before taxi=interest

How to Calculate the Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio

The calculation for determining a company's ability to cover its fixed charges starts with earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) from the company's income statement and then adds back interest expense, lease expense, and other fixed charges.

Next, the adjusted EBIT is divided by the amount off fixed charges plus interest. A ratio result of 1.5, for example, shows that a company has $1.50 of earnings for every $1 of debt it has incurred and is healthy financially.

What Does the Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio Tell You?

The fixed-charge ratio is used by lenders looking to analyze the amount of cash flow a company has available for debt repayment. A low ratio often reveals a drop in earnings and could be dire for the company, which is a situation lenders try to avoid.

As a result, many lenders use coverage ratios, including the times-interest-earned ratio (TIE) and the fixed-charge coverage ratio, to determine a company's ability to take on and pay for additional debt. A company that can cover its fixed charges at a faster rate than its peers is not only more efficient but more profitable. This is a company that wants to borrow to finance growth rather than to get through a hardship. 

A company's sales and the costs related to its sales and operations make up the information shown on its income statement. Some costs are variable costs and dependent on the volume of sales over a particular time period. As sales increase, so do the variable costs. Other costs are fixed and must be paid regardless of whether or not the business has activity. These fixed costs can include items such as equipment lease payments, insurance payments, installment payments on existing debt and preferred dividend payments.

Example of the Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio in Use

The goal of computing the fixed-charge coverage ratio is to see how well earnings can cover fixed charges. This ratio is a lot like the TIE ratio, but it is a more conservative measure, taking additional fixed charges, including lease expenses, into consideration.

The fixed-charge coverage ratio is slightly different from the TIE, though the same interpretation can be applied. The fixed-charge coverage ratio adds lease payments to earnings before income & taxes (i.e. EBIT) and then divides by the total interest and lease expenses.

For example, say Company A records EBIT of $300,000, lease payments of $200,000 and $50,000 in interest expense. The calculation is $300,000 plus $200,000 divided by $50,000 plus $200,000, which is $500,000 divided by $250,000, or a fixed-charge coverage ratio of 2x. The company's earnings are two times greater than its fixed costs, which is low.

Like the TIE, the higher the FCCR ratio, the better.

Limitations of the Fixed-Charge Coverage Ratio

The FCCR doesn't consider rapid changes in the amount of capital for new and growing companies. The formula also doesn't consider the effects of funds taken out of earnings to pay an owner's draw or pay dividends to investors. These events affect the ratio inputs and can give a misleading conclusion unless other metrics are also considered.

For this reason, when banks evaluate a company's creditworthiness for a loan, they typically look several at other benchmarks in addition to the fixed-charge coverage ratio in order to gain a more complete view of the company's financial condition.