Several financial measures, including the interest coverage ratio, serve as a solvency check for an organisation. Using it, businesses, investors, and financial analysts can easily decipher the current ability of a firm to pay off its accumulated interest on a debt. Notably, to use the same accurately, one must find out more than just the interest coverage ratio meaning.
Interest Coverage Ratio is a financial metric used for ascertaining the number of times a company can pay off its interest with its current earnings before applicable taxes and interests are deducted.
In simple words, the interest coverage ratio is a metric that enables to determine how efficiently a firm can pay off its share of interest expenses on debt. This ratio is also known as ‘times interest earned’.
It must be noted that this particular ratio is not concerned with the repayment of the principal debt amount. The interest coverage ratio is entirely about a firm’s ability to settle interest on its debt.
The interest coverage ratio is calculated by dividing the earnings generated by a firm before expenditure on interest and taxes by its interest expenses in the same period.
The interest coverage ratio formula is used extensively by lenders, creditors and investors to gauge a specific firm’s risk when it comes to lending money to the same. It also helps to assess the profitability of the aforementioned company.
This ratio is given by –
Interest Coverage Ratio = Earnings before Interest and Taxes or EBIT/ Interest Expense
Interest Coverage Ratio = EBIT + Non-cash expenses / Interest Expense
To calculate the interest coverage ratio, one can use multiple ways apart from EBIT. Metrics such as EBITDA, EBIAT, fixed charge and EBITDA minus capex can also be used.
EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) coverage ratio helps find how many times EBITDA can service the due interest expense.
FCCR determines the company’s capacity to pay all of its short-term financial requisites.
This ratio can be used to check the number of times EBITDA can be used to service the interest expense post the capex deduction.
Earnings before interest after taxes can also be used in place of EBIT. It offers a clear glimpse of the company’s ability to pay loan interest.
Interest Coverage Ratios
1 or Less
The company might be facing challenges in fulfilling interest obligations and may become a defaulter
1.5 to 2
The company is financially sound and has ample funds to fulfil its obligations
2 or More
The company is extremely financially sound and can easily fulfil its interest obligations
Even though a higher interest coverage ratio is desirable, the ideal ratio tends to vary from one industry to another.
With that being said, let’s take a quick look at these pointers to analyse this financial metric –
Regardless, it must be noted that what would generally be accepted as a ‘good’ interest coverage ratio for some industries or sectors may not be potent enough for others. For instance, industries with stable sales, like electricity, natural gas, etc., among other essential utility services, tend to have a low-interest coverage ratio.
On the other hand, industries with fluctuating sales, like technology, manufacturing, etc., manifest a higher IRC ratio. Consequently, the ‘good interest coverage ratio’ for both such sectors will be different. Nonetheless, it must be noted that a high EBIT may not be reliable proof of a high ICR.
Let’s compare the EBIT of two companies, namely – ABC Co and XYZ Co, with this ratio.
|ABC Co (EBIT)
|XYZ Co (EBIT)
By using the formula –
ICR = EBIT/Interest
As per the outcome, it is determined that ABC Co has increased its ICR in the given period and remains stable throughout. On the other hand, XYZ Co shows a sharp decrease in its ICR, indicating problems related to liquidity and stability.
These are among the prominent uses of this ratio –
However, individuals must become familiar with the shortcomings of this financial metric to make better use of it.
Like other financial ratios, it isn’t easy to forecast a company’s long-term financial standing with an interest coverage ratio.
Other than that, the following points emphasise the limitations of this ratio –
To analyse a firm’s financial statements, individuals should use the interest coverage ratio along with other metrics like – quick ratio, current ratio, cash ratio, debt to equity ratio, etc. It will help maximise the benefits of the said metric and will enable to cushion the shortcomings more effectively.
Furthermore, one should also weigh in other factors before investing in or lending capital to a particular company.