Capital Gearing: Definition, Meaning, How It Works, and Example

Entities with a high gearing ratio have higher amounts of debt to service, while companies with lower gearing ratio calculations have more equity to rely on for financing. The gearing level is arrived at by expressing the capital with fixed return (cwfr) as a percentage of capital employed. A company whose cwfr is in excess of 60% of the total capital employed is said to be highly geared. The capital gearing ratio is a solvency ratio which is a very helpful metric to evaluate the capital structure and financial stability of the company. High levels of gearing and leverage indicate that a company relies heavily on debt to finance its long term needs, which increases the level of risk for the company’s common ordinary shareholders.

A highly geared company is one with a higher proportion of debt and fixed return capital compared to equity and variable return capital. This indicates a more aggressive capital structure, which can lead to higher financial risk. Companies with high gearing ratios may face difficulties in meeting debt obligations, especially during economic downturns. The capital gearing ratio is closely related to a company’s financial stability and capital adequacy. A highly geared company with a significant amount of debt may face challenges in meeting its debt obligations and may be at a higher risk of financial distress. Conversely, a low geared company with a higher proportion of equity has a more solid financial foundation, providing greater stability.

For example, if a company is said to have a capital gearing of 3.0, it means that the company has debt thrice as much as its equity. If a company can reduce working capital such as collecting money from the debtors soon, inventory levels etc. Debt financing is a cheap source of funds for many companies but whether a company makes a profit or not, the company has to pay interest at a fixed rate. Common shareholders‘ equity is taken as equity and subtracted from the Preferred Stock and it includes share capital and reserve & Surplus. Gearing is a type of leverage analysis that incorporates the owner’s equity, often expressed as a ratio in financial analysis. Because the interest and capital repayments on debt must be made regardless of the company’s profits, whereas there is no obligation to make payments to equity.

A higher ratio is not always a bad thing, because debt is normally a cheaper source of financing and comes with increased tax advantages. The Capital Gearing Ratio is calculated by comparing the company’s equity to its fixed cost bearing funds, including long-term debt, preference share capital, and other fixed liabilities. Well, it provides valuable insights into a company’s financial risk and stability. By understanding the Capital Gearing Ratio, investors, lenders, and corporate managers can make informed financial decisions.

  1. In cases where a lender would be offering an unsecured loan, the gearing ratio could include information about the presence of senior lenders and preferred stockholders, who have certain payment guarantees.
  2. A higher gearing ratio indicates that a company has a higher degree of financial leverage and is more susceptible to downturns in the economy and the business cycle.
  3. The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice.
  4. A mature business which produces strong and reliable cash flows can handle a much higher level of gearing than a business where the cash flows are unpredictable and uncertain.
  5. Gearing ratios are one way to differentiate financially healthy companies from troubled ones.

This means that for every $1 in shareholder equity, the company has $2 in debt. A highly geared firm is already paying high amounts of interest to its lenders and new investors may be reluctant to invest their money, since the business may not be able to pay back the money. Gearing ratios are important financial metrics because they can help investors and analysts understand how much leverage a company has compared to its equity. Put simply, it tells you how much a company’s operations are funded by a form of equity versus debt. Although this figure alone provides some information as to the company’s financial structure, it is more meaningful to benchmark this figure against another company in the same industry. A high gearing ratio typically indicates a high degree of leverage, although this does not always indicate a company is in poor financial condition.

How to Calculate the Net Gearing Ratio

Gearing ratios form a broad category of financial ratios, of which the debt-to-equity ratio is the predominant example. Accountants, economists, investors, lenders, and company executives all use gearing ratios to measure the relationship between owners‘ equity and debt. You often see the debt-to-equity ratio called the gearing ratio, although technically it would be more correct to refer to it as a gearing ratio. A company with a low gearing ratio will generally have more conservative spending habits or operate in a cyclical industry – one that is more sensitive to economic ups and downs – so it tries to keep its debts down. Companies with low gearing ratios maintain this by using shareholders’ equity to pay for major costs. A company with a high gearing ratio will tend to use loans to pay for operational costs, which means that it could be exposed to increased risk during economic downturns or interest rate increases.

When the industry average ratio result is 0.8, and the competition’s gearing ratio result is 0.9, a company with a 0.3 ratio is, comparatively, performing well in its industry. Capital gearing is a British term that refers to the amount of debt a company has relative to its equity. If a company generates more cash flow then it will be manageable for the company to repay the debt and decrease the high gearing ratio. Usually, investors or lenders prefer a low capital ratio and low gearing ratios to minimize the risk of both investors and lenders. A higher capital gearing ratio shows the larger portion of the capital is composed of fixed interest or fixed dividend. A good capital gearing ratio is considered to be the individual company comparative to other companies within a similar industry.

The Capital Gearing ratio is also known as an „evenly geared firm“ that establishes the relationship between the funds raised by the equity shareholders by the company and the funds borrowed by the company. All companies have to balance the advantages of leveraging their assets with the disadvantages that come with borrowing risks. This same uncertainty faces investors and lenders who interact with those companies.

Low Gearing: Disadvantages

Capital gearing ratio less than 0.25 is typically considered low risk by both investors and lenders. Therefore, this leads to greater volatility in dividends paid to shareholders where a company is highly geared. In practice, many companies operate successfully with a higher leverage and gearing ratio than this, but 50% is nonetheless a helpful benchmark. This article focuses primarily on the last two ratios, i.e., equity gearing (debt-to-equity) and capital gearing (debt-to-capital). Financial gearing, or leverage, is the use of debt–as opposed to equity–for the purpose of business financing, with the aim that the return generated will exceed the borrowing costs. Gearing ratios are also a convenient way for the company itself to manage its debt levels, predict future cash flow and monitor its leverage.

In general, the cost of debt is viewed as a “cheaper” source of capital up to a certain point, as long as the default risk is kept to a manageable level. A company whose CWFR is between 30% to 50% of its total capital employed is said to be medium geared. Also, a company whose CWFR is below 25% of its total capital employed is said to be low geared. As an example, in order to fund a new project, ABC, Inc. finds that it is unable to sell new shares to equity investors at a reasonable price. Instead, ABC looks to the debt market and secures a USD $15,000,000 loan with one year to maturity.

What is the formula to calculate the capital gearing ratio?

An appropriate level of gearing depends on the industry that a company operates in. Therefore, it’s important to look at a company’s gearing ratio relative to that of comparable firms. Gearing is the amount of debt – in proportion to equity capital – that a company uses to fund its operations. A company that possesses a high gearing ratio shows a high debt to equity ratio, which potentially increases the risk of financial failure of the business. Gearing ratios are financial ratios that compare some form of owner’s equity (or capital) to debt, or funds borrowed by the company.

What Is the Gearing Ratio?

The capital gearing ratio provides significant insights into the company’s capital structure and the proportion of fixed return capital to variable return capital. A higher ratio indicates a higher reliance on debt financing and can suggest a higher level of financial risk. Conversely, a lower ratio indicates a more conservative capital structure with a higher proportion of equity financing. It is important to note that the ideal capital gearing ratio may vary across industries and companies, depending on their specific circumstances and financial goals.

In cases where a lender would be offering an unsecured loan, the gearing ratio could include information about the presence of senior lenders and preferred stockholders, who have certain payment guarantees. This allows the lender to adjust the calculation to reflect the higher level of risk than would be present with a secured loan. It’s important to compare the net gearing ratios of competing companies—that is, companies that operate within the same industry. That’s because each industry has its own capital needs and relies on different growth rates. Businesses that rely heavily on leverage to invest in property or manufacturing equipment often have high D/E ratios. This allows the lender to adjust the calculation to reflect the higher level of risk than would be present with a secured loan.

For example, utility companies typically have a high, acceptable gearing ratio since the industry is regulated. These companies have a monopoly in their market, which makes their debt less capital gearing ratio risky companies in a competitive market with the same debt levels. A gearing ratio is a financial ratio that compares some form of capital or owner equity to funds borrowed by the company.

It includes Preference shares, debentures, bonds, short term liabilities and long term liabilities. Raising equity capital by issuing more shares can also decrease a company’s gearing ratio. Hence, gearing ratios are usually used as a tool to compare financial leverage of similar companies within one industry sector.

The most efficient way to reduce capital gearing is to increase the profit margins. Capital intensive companies like industrials are likely to have more debt versus companies with lesser fixed assets. Nevertheless, sometimes, non-redeemable preference shares (less common than redeemable) are still classified as equity. Amanda Bellucco-Chatham is an editor, writer, and fact-checker with years of experience researching personal finance topics. Specialties include general financial planning, career development, lending, retirement, tax preparation, and credit. Equity holders (i.e., ordinary shareholders) are paid a dividend that varies each year with the volume of profits made.

Gearing ratios are used as a comparison tool to determine the performance of one company vs another company in the same industry. When used as a standalone calculation, a company’s gearing ratio may not mean a lot. Comparing gearing ratios of similar companies in the same industry provides more meaningful data. For example, a company with a gearing ratio of 60% may be perceived as high risk.