• Articles
  • Interview Questions

Degree of Financial Leverage: Importance, Formula & Examples

Degree of Financial Leverage: Importance, Formula & Examples
Tutorial Playlist

In this blog, we will delve into the concept of the degree of financial leverage, exploring what it is, why it is important, the formula for calculating it, and how to interpret the results. We’ll also provide examples to illustrate its application. By the end, you will have a solid grasp of this essential financial metric and its significance in managing a company’s finances.

Table of Contents

Check out the Best Investment Banking Online Course video to learn more about its concepts:

What is the Degree of Financial Leverage?

What is the Degree of Financial Leverage?

The degree of financial leverage measures how a company’s Earnings Per Share (EPS) changes in response to changes in its Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT). It provides insight into how a firm’s financial structure, particularly its use of debt, impacts its profitability and risk.

A higher degree of financial leverage implies that a company has a greater reliance on debt financing, which can magnify both profits and losses. This can be beneficial in times of growth when EBIT is increasing, as it boosts EPS. But it can also increase the risk of financial distress if EBIT declines.

Understanding the degree of financial leverage is crucial for management and investors. It helps evaluate a company’s financial risk tied to its capital structure and guides decisions on the right balance of debt and equity financing for profitability and risk management.

Definition of Financial Leverage

Financial leverage refers to the strategy of using borrowed funds (such as loans or debt securities) to increase the potential return on investment. It boosts both gains and losses. By leveraging, a company or investor can control a larger asset base with a smaller amount of their own capital. This can enhance profitability when returns are positive, but it also increases the risk of magnified losses if investments perform poorly. Effective management of financial leverage is important for balancing risk and return in financial decision-making.

Become an investment banker with IIM Ranchi’s comprehensive Investment Banking Course!

Importance of the Degree of Financial Leverage

Importance of the Degree of Financial Leverage

The degree of financial leverage is a valuable tool for both corporate finance professionals and investors in evaluating a company’s financial health and potential for growth.

The degree of financial leverage is important for several reasons, which are as follows:

  • Risk Assessment: The degree of financial leverage allows companies and investors to measure the financial risk associated with a specific capital structure. A higher DFL suggests that a company relies more on debt, which can magnify profits but also increase the risk of financial distress in the event of declining earnings.
  • Decision-Making: Determining the optimal mix of debt and equity financing is critical. Companies must strike a balance between using debt to leverage returns and avoiding excessive risk. Understanding DFL helps in making informed decisions about the right amount of debt to employ.
  • Profitability Analysis: Financial leverage measures how changes in a company’s operating income (EBIT) impact its earnings per share (EPS). By calculating DFL, companies can assess their profit potential under different operating scenarios. This helps in identifying the sensitivity of EPS to fluctuations in EBIT.
  • Investor Perspective: Investors use degree of financial leverage as part of their due diligence process. It helps them understand how sensitive a company’s earnings and stock price are to changes in the economic environment. A high DFL may attract risk-tolerant investors seeking potentially higher returns, while a low DFL may appeal to risk-averse investors.
  • Strategic Planning: Leverage Analysis is a critical component of corporate financial planning. It guides strategic decisions about capital structure, investment strategies, and risk management. By managing DFL effectively, companies can align their financial structure with their overall goals and risk tolerance.

Preparing for an interview? Check out the Top Investment Banking Interview Questions prepared by experts!

Investment Banking IIM Ranchi

Formula for Degree of Financial Leverage

The degree of financial leverage (DFL) can be calculated using different formulas, but the most common ones include:

  • Degree of Financial Leverage = %Change in Net Income / %Change in EBIT 
Formula for Degree of Financial Leverage

It measures how sensitive the net income is to fluctuations in EBIT. A higher DFL implies that small changes in EBIT can lead to significant changes in net income.

  • Degree of Financial Leverage = %Change in EPS / % Change in EBIT
Degree of Financial Leverage = %Change in EPS / % Change in EBIT

EPS is a measure of a company’s profitability on a per-share basis. Given that the number of outstanding shares can also have an impact on changes in net income, it evaluates how changes in EBIT affect the company’s EPS.

  • Degree of Financial Leverage = EBIT / (EBIT – Interest)
Degree of Financial Leverage = EBIT / (EBIT - Interest)

In this formula, the ratio essentially shows how many times EBIT can cover the interest expense. A higher value indicates that the company generates significantly more operating income (EBIT) than the interest it needs to pay, which is a positive sign for creditors and investors as it suggests financial stability.

Also, Check out our blog on Financial Statement Analysis and learn more about Financial Analysis!

How to Calculate Degree of Financial Leverage

How to Calculate Degree of Financial Leverage

The below-mentioned steps should help you calculate the degree of financial leverage by using the specified formulas:

Formula 1: Degree of Financial Leverage = % Change in Net Income / % Change in EBIT

  • Step 1: Determine the net income for a particular year from the income statement. To calculate the percentage change in net income, subtract the net income from the previous year from the net income of the current year, and then divide the result by the net income of the previous year.
    • % Change in Net Income = [(Net Income Current Year – Net Income Previous Year) / Net Income Previous Year] * 100%
  • Step 2: Determine the EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) for a particular year by adding interest and taxes to the net income, all of which are line items from the income statement. To calculate the percentage change in EBIT, take the EBIT of the current year, subtract the EBIT from the previous year, and then divide this difference by the EBIT from the previous year.
    • % Change in EBIT = [(EBIT Current Year – EBIT Previous Year) / EBIT Previous Year] * 100%
  • Step 3: Finally, calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage by dividing the percentage change in net income (from step 1) by the percentage change in EBIT (from step 2).
    • Degree of Financial Leverage = % Change in Net Income / % Change in EBIT

Formula 2: Degree of Financial Leverage = % Change in EPS / % Change in EBIT

  • Step 1: Determine the EPS for a particular year from the company’s financial statements. Calculate the percentage change in EPS by subtracting the EPS of the previous year from that of the current year and then dividing the result by the EPS of the previous year.
    • % Change in EPS = [(EPS Current Year – EPS Previous Year) / EPS Previous Year] * 100%
  • Step 2: Determine the EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) for a particular year as explained in Formula 1.
  • Step 3: Calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage by dividing the percentage change in EPS (from step 1) by the percentage change in EBIT (from step 2).
    • Degree of Financial Leverage = % Change in EPS / % Change in EBIT

Formula 3: Degree of Financial Leverage = EBIT / (EBIT – Interest)

  • Step 1: Determine the EBIT for a particular year by adding back the interest expense to the net income, as explained in the example.
    • EBIT = Net income + Interest expense + Taxes
  • Step 2: Calculate the difference between EBIT and the interest expense to find the Earnings Before Taxes (EBT).
    • EBT = EBIT – Interest Expense
  • Step 3: Calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage by dividing the EBIT (from step 1) by the difference between EBIT and the interest expense (from step 2).
    • Degree of Financial Leverage = EBIT / (EBIT – Interest Expense)
      Or
    • Degree of Financial Leverage = EBIT / EBT

Get 100% Hike!

Master Most in Demand Skills Now !

Example of Degree of Financial Leverage

Let us see some simple examples to understand the formula for the degree of financial leverage:


Example 1: Consider Company ABC Inc., which reported a net income of $600,000 for the current fiscal year compared to $500,000 in the prior year. In the current year, the company had interest expenses of $75,000 and paid $120,000 in taxes. In the previous year, the interest expenses were $60,000, and the tax bill amounted to $110,000. Calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) for Company ABC Inc.:

ParticularsCurrent Year Previous Year
Net Income $600,000$500,000
Interest Expense $75,000$60,000
Taxes Paid$120,000$110,000

To calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) for Company ABC Inc., you’ll need to follow these steps:

1. Calculate the percentage change in Net Income:

% Change in Net Income = [(Net Income Current Year – Net Income Previous Year) / Net Income Previous Year] * 100%

% Change in Net Income = [($600,000 – $500,000) / $500,000] * 100%

% Change in Net Income = ($100,000 / $500,000) * 100%

% Change in Net Income = 0.20 or 20%

2. Calculate the percentage change in EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes):

  • Firstly, calculate EBIT for both years:

EBIT Current Year = (Net Income Current Year + Interest Current Year + Taxes Current Year)

EBIT Current Year = ($600,000 + $75,000 + $120,000)

EBIT Current Year = $795,000

EBIT Previous Year = (Net Income Previous Year + Interest Previous Year + Taxes Previous Year)

EBIT Previous Year = ($500,000 + $60,000 + $110,000)

EBIT Previous Year = $670,000

  • Now calculate percentage change in EBIT

% Change in EBIT = [(EBIT Current Year – EBIT Previous Year) / EBIT Previous Year] * 100%

% Change in EBIT = [($795,000 – $670,000) / $670,000] * 100%

% Change in EBIT = ($125,000 / $670,000) * 100%

% Change in EBIT = 0.18657 or 18.66% (rounded to two decimal places)

3. Now, use the DFL formula to calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage:

Degree of Financial Leverage = (% Change in Net Income / % Change in EBIT)

Degree of Financial Leverage = (0.20 / 0.18657)

Degree of Financial Leverage = 1.0706 or 107.06% (rounded to two decimal places)

This indicates that a 1% change in EBIT would result in a 1.0706 change in net income due to the company’s financial leverage.

Example 2: Let’s consider another company, XYZ Inc. This company reported a net income of $720,000 for the current fiscal year, compared to $6,00,000 in the prior year. In the current year, the company had earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of $1,200,000, and an interest expense of $120,000.In the previous year, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were $1,000,000, with an interest expense of $100,000. The company has 100,000 outstanding shares. Calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) for XYZ Inc. based on this financial information.

ParticularsCurrent  YearPrevious Year
Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT)$1,200,000$1,000,000
Interest Expense$120,000$100,000
Net Income$720,000$600,000
Number of Outstanding Shares 100,000100,000

To calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) for Company XYZ Inc., you’ll need to follow these steps:

1. Calculate the EPS for both years before any changes:

EPS Current Year = Net Income / Number of Outstanding Shares

EPS Current Year = $720,000 / 100,000

EPS Current Year = $7.20 per share

EPS Previous Year = Net Income /  Number of Out standing Shares

EPS Previous Year = $600,000 / 100,000 

EPS Previous Year = $6 per share

2. Calculate the % change in EPS:

% Change in EPS = [(EPS Current Year – EPS Previous Year) / EPS Previous Year] * 100%

% Change in EPS = [($7.20 – $6.00) / $6.00] * 100%

% Change in EPS = (1.20 / 6.00) * 100%

% Change in EPS = 20%

3. Calculate the % change in EBIT

% Change in EBIT = [(EBIT Current Year – EBIT Previous Year) / EBIT Previous Year] * 100%

% Change in EBIT = [($1,200,000 – $1,000,000) / $1,000,000] * 100%

% Change in EBIT = ($200,000 / $1,000,000) * 100%

% Change in EBIT = 20%

4. Now, use the DFL formula to calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage:

Degree of Financial Leverage = (% Change in Net Income / % Change in EBIT)

Degree of Financial Leverage = (20 / 20)

Degree of Financial Leverage = 1

The Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) is 1, indicating that a 1% change in EBIT results in a 1% change in EPS. This means that the company’s earnings are not significantly leveraged by the use of debt, as there is a 1-to-1 relationship between changes in EBIT and changes in EPS.

Example 3: Consider the case of ABC Inc., a different company, which reported a net income of $300,000 in its most recent annual financial statement. They incurred an interest expense of 6% on their outstanding debt of $1,500,000 and paid $30,000 in taxes. Calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) for ABC Inc.

ParticularsAmount
Interest rate6%
Outstanding debt$1,500,000
Net income$300,000
Interest expense$90,000
Taxes paid$30,000

To calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) for Company ABC Inc, you’ll need to follow these steps:

1. Calculate the Interest expense:

Interest expense = Interest rate * Outstanding debt

Interest expense = 6% * $1,500,000

Interest expense = $90,000

2. Calculate the EBIT for the particular year

EBIT = Net income + Interest expense + taxes paid

EBIT = $300,000 + $90,000 + $30,000

EBIT = $420,000

3. Calculate the EBT for the particular year

EBT = EBIT – Interest Expense

EBT = $420,000 – $90,000

EBT = $330,000

4.  Now, use the DFL formula to calculate the Degree of Financial Leverage

Degree of Financial Leverage = EBIT / EBT

Degree of Financial Leverage = ($420,000 / $330,000)

Degree of Financial Leverage = 1.27 

Therefore, a 1% change in ABC Ltd.’s leverage will change its operating income by 1.27%.

Conclusion

The Degree of Financial Leverage is a powerful tool for businesses to evaluate their financial risk and make informed decisions about their capital structure. By understanding DFL, companies can effectively balance the advantages of financial leverage with the potential downsides. It plays an important role in strategic planning, risk management, and investor relations, making it an essential concept for any business to grasp in its pursuit of long-term success. As business companies aim for financial success, the Degree of Financial Leverage (DFL) retains its crucial role in shaping a prosperous future.

If you have any questions to ask, feel free to drop them on our Community Page.

Course Schedule

Name Date Details
Investment Banking Course 01 Jun 2024(Sat-Sun) Weekend Batch
View Details
Investment Banking Course 08 Jun 2024(Sat-Sun) Weekend Batch
View Details
Investment Banking Course 15 Jun 2024(Sat-Sun) Weekend Batch
View Details