Financial Accounting

Capital Structure Ratios

Capital structure ratios are also known as leverage ratios. Capital structure ratios may be defined as those financial ratios which measure the long term stability and structure of the firm. These ratios indicate the mix of funds provided by the owners and lenders and assure the lenders of the long term fund with respect to:

a. Periodic payment of interest during the period of the loan and

b. Repayment of principal amount on maturity.

Hence, leverage ratios are of two kinds:

i. Capital structure ratios and

ii. Coverage ratios

Capital Structure Ratios

These ratios provide an insight into the financing techniques used by the business and focus on the long term solvency position. From the balance sheet, one can get only the absolute funds employed and its sources, but they do not convey any significant message about their proportion to another type of source of funds. For example Debt ratio, it is used to know how much debt is there in total capital employed.

There are three main types of capital structure ratios:

Equity Ratio: It indicates the proportion of owners’ funds to the total funds invested in the business. The old school of the law believed that more equity is safe for the firm and there should be more weight of equity in the total capital.

The formula of Equity Ratio = Shareholders’ Equity / Total Capital Employed

Debt Ratio: It is computed as Total debt/ Capital employed.

Here, total debt includes the short term as well as long term debt, borrowings from the financial institutions, bonds, debentures, bank borrowings. In short, it includes every type of external funding apart from equity.

Deb to Equity Ratio = It is computed as

Debt+Preferred Long Term/ Shareholders’ Equity

Here, preferred stock capital is also added to debt because we are making comparison with respect to equity shareholders. A preference share is a non-debt security but they get preference like creditors while repayment of capital. Hence, it assumed as external capital.

Capital Structure Ratios Vary

Several published studies indicate that capital structure ratios vary in significant manner among industry classes. For example, random samplings of common equity ratios of large retail companies seem to differ statistically as compared to corresponding figures of steel producers.

On the whole, firms operating in the same industry tend to exhibit capital structure ratios that cluster around a central value, also known as industry-standard ratios. Because business risk varies from industry to industry, consequently industry ratios also tend to vary.

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