We often judge a company on the basis of its sales and earnings numbers. These, however, may not be enough. Sometimes, a stock gets a boost if these numbers climb year over year or surpass estimates in a particular quarter. This will definitely be a great opportunity for an investor with a shorter horizon to cash in on. But if you seek long-term returns, investments backed only by sales and earnings numbers may not yield the desired results.
A critical analysis of a company’s financial background is a prerequisite for an informed investment decision. Here, coverage ratios that determine whether a company is sound enough to meet its financial obligations play a crucial role. The higher the ratio, the better it is. The focus of this article is on “Interest Coverage,” which is one such ratio.
Interest Coverage Ratio = Earnings before Interest & Taxes (EBIT) divided by Interest Expense.
Why Interest Coverage Ratio?
Interest Coverage Ratio is used to determine how effectively a company can pay the interest charges on its debt.
Debt, which is crucial for most of the companies to finance operations, comes at a cost called interest. Interest expense has a direct bearing on the profitability of a company and its creditworthiness depends on how effectively it meets interest obligations. Therefore, Interest Coverage Ratio is one of the important criteria to factor in before making any investment decision.
Interest Coverage Ratio suggests the number of times the interest could be paid from earnings and gauges the margin of safety a firm carries for paying interest.
An interest coverage ratio lower than 1.0 implies that the company is unable to fulfill its interest obligations and could default on repaying debt. A company that is capable of generating earnings well above its interest expense can withstand financial hardships. Definitely, one should also track the company’s past performance to determine whether the interest coverage ratio has improved or worsened over a period of time.