Leverage Ratios

Leverage ratios evaluate the lower half of the balance sheet. Its primary purpose is the analyzes debt in comparison to equity or the profitability of the business.

Value Investing – Business Ratios (Lesson 12)

Business ratios are used to compare similar companies within the same industry. RULE #1: DO NOT USE BUSINESS RATIOS TO COMPARE COMPANIES AGAINST EACH OTHER IF THEY ARE IN DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES.

Business ratios are not perfect, they have their respective flaws and it is important for value investors to understand the algorithms used with business ratios. It is also important to note that business ratios can be easily manipulated and result in misleading outcomes. More importantly, business ratios only reflect current information and not long-term trends. Think of business ratios as comparable to a doctor acquiring your vitals upon your medical visit. The vitals only reflect the ‘then and now’ status of your medical condition. They do not reflect your lifetime nor trending condition. 

In effect, business ratios have a purpose, although limited. They are the best tools to compare similar companies within the same industry and typically the same market capitalization tier. Thus, a second rule to use with rule number one above; RULE #2: USE BUSINESS RATIOS TO COMPARE SIMILAR MARKET CAPITALIZATION COMPANIES WITHIN THE SAME INDUSTRY.

Because business ratios can be easily manipulated, it is important that users of business ratios have a full understanding of their respective formulas. RULE #3: BUSINESS RATIOS ARE NOT AN ABSOLUTE RESULT. They are merely indicators and that is all they are good for when interpreting their results. 

Even with the above limitations, business ratios are beneficial to investors as they are the best method of comparing existing or potential investments. Their results are not perfect, but they can indeed provide adequate confidence when making pertinent decisions about a companies current financial status. 

Leverage Ratios

Leverage Ratios

Leverage refers to the ability to lift a heavier load using a fulcrum and a lever. The common image is a board on a triangular pivot point with a heavy weight (M1) on one end and a lighter weight (M2) on the other. As the lever shifts towards the lighter load it starts to lift the heavier weight. In effect, as the distance ‘b’ gets longer, it becomes easier to lift M1. This principle works with finances too.  How so?

Business Ratios (Introduction)

Percentage of Completion

Ratios are used in business to compare companies of different sizes within the same industry. The goal is to discover the best investment for return on your stock purchase. Business ratios essentially equalize different size companies within the same industry. A common mistake is to compare two different industries within the same sector (explained below).

Interest Coverage Ratio

The last of the leverage ratios isn’t really a pure leverage indicator but augments the debt ratio. Debt requires the payment of interest and so an indicator of the ability to pay this interest is needed. This is the interest coverage ratio.

Debt to Equity Ratio

Another leverage ratio used to evaluate the financial integrity of a business is the debt to equity ratio. It is strictly a bottom half balance sheet ratio. Its result explains the relationship of volume of debt and corresponding equity to finance the operations of a business, i.e. the purchase of assets.