Calculating the Long-Term Debt to Total Capitalization Ratio

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Long-term debt is defined as an interest-bearing obligation owed for over 12 months from the date it was recorded on the balance sheet. It can be in the form of a banknote, a mortgage, debenture, etc. It is recorded on the balance sheet along with its interest rate and date of maturity. Total capitalization is the sum of long-term debt and all other types of equity, such as common stock and preferred stock. Total capitalization forms a company's capital structure and is sometimes computed as total assets less total liabilities.

The long-term debt to total capitalization ratio shows the extent to which long-term interest-bearing debt (such as bonds and mortgages) are used for the firm's permanent financing or the financial leverage of the company. On the flip side, it shows how much of the firm is financed by investor funds or equity. Thus, it allows investors to identify the amount of control utilized by a company and compare it to other companies in order to analyze the total risk experience of a particular company.

The companies that fund a greater portion of capital through debts are known to be riskier than those with lower finance ratios.

The debt to asset ratio and the long-term debt to total capitalization ratio, all measure the extent of a firm's financing with debt. 

Calculating Long-Term Debt to Total Capitalization

The calculation of long-term debt to total capitalization is as follows:

Long-term Debt/Long-term debt + Stockholder's Equity = ___ percent

An Example of Calculating Long-term Debt

Let's look at the capital structure of company XYZ. They have long-term debt of $70,000 ($50,000 on their mortgage and the remaining $20,000 on equipment). They have assets amounting to $100,000, less the $70,000 in liabilities which gives them $30,000 in stockholder equity. Thus, their long-term debt to total capitalization ratio would be $70,000 / $100,000 = .7 percent

Considerations When It Comes to Debt

The more the percentage rate increases, the more debt is being used for the permanent financing of the firm as opposed to investor funds (equity financing). However, you need to have historical data from the firm and/or industry data in order to make a comparison. As the proportion of debt gets higher, so does risk and the chance of bankruptcy. Conversely, a decrease in the ratio would indicate that there is an increase in stockholders' equity.

If the long-term debt to capitalization ratio is greater than 1.0, it indicates that the business has more debt than capital which is a strong warning sign indicating financial weakness. Any further debt beyond this point would increase the company's risk. 

A high long-term debt to capitalization ratio can also increase shareholders' return on equity because interest payments are tax deductible. However, it also reduces a company's financial flexibility and increases the risk of insolvency. A ratio less than 1.0 indicates that the business is healthy, is not having financial difficulties, and that its debt burden is within easily manageable levels. 

Business owners should monitor the long-term debt to capitalization ratio in order to ensure that it is under control so that their debt is under control.