What is Leverage in Finance?

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What is Leverage in Finance?

In this article, you will learn about “What is Leverage in Finance?” as it is the most used term in financial industry.

So, for every individual participate in the finance industry need to understand the importance of this term and its appropriate usage.

Businesses use leverage instead of using equity to finance those purchases.

Starting with understanding the terminology with the definition,

What is Leverage?     

Leverage in finance actually has multiple definitions, based on a single concept – using borrowed money – usually from fixed-income securities like debt and preferred equity or preferred shares of stocks – to increase a company’s return on investment.

A highly common business and finance strategy, leverage can be used by a business to leverage debt to build financial assets. Financial leverage is largely defined as the leveraging of various debt instruments to boost a business’s return on investment.

There is no guarantee that financial leverage will produce a positive outcome. Basically, the higher the amount of debt a company uses as leverage, the higher – and the riskier – is its financial leverage position.

Financial leverage is the use of borrowed money (debt) to finance the purchase of assets with the expectation that the income or capital gain from the new asset will exceed the cost of borrowing.

In most cases, the provider of the debt will put a limit on how much risk it is ready to take and indicate a limit on the extent of the leverage it will allow. In the case of asset-backed lending, the financial provider uses the assets as collateral until the borrower repays the loan. In the case of a cash flow loan, the general creditworthiness of the company is used to back the loan.

This guide will outline how financial leverage works, how it’s measured, and the risks associated with using it.

Now, let’s start with the Leverage Formula:

Financial Leverage Formula

The formula for calculating the leverage is as follows:

Leverage =

Calculate the entire debt incurred by a business, including short- and long-term debt. 

Total debt = short-term debt plus long-term debt.

Count up the company’s total shareholder equity (i.e., multiplying the number of outstanding company shares by the company’s stock price.)

Divide the total debt by total equity. The resulting figure is a company’s financial leverage ratio.

A high leverage ratio – basically any ratio of three-to-one or higher – means higher business risk for a company, threatens the company’s share price, and makes it more difficult to secure future capital if it’s not paying its old/current debt obligations.

Types of Leverage:

1. Operational Leverage

This form of leverage involves a company or organization trying to boost operating income by hiking revenue.

A company that produces sales figures with a robust gross margin and low costs comes out of that scenario with high operating leverage.

With operating leverage, a company’s minor change in sales can trigger a boost in operating profits, as expenses are fixed and won’t likely rise with sales.

In general, high operating levels is a positive when company-wise sales rise, and they’re a negative when sales are in decline.

2. Financial Leverage

This type of leverage is the most pervasive used by companies and investors – it represents the use of debt to place a company in a more advantageous financial position.

The more debt a company takes on, however, the more leveraged that company becomes.

That’s primarily due to the higher interest payments owed to the lender by the borrowing business.

Yet if the leverage leads to a higher investment return, compared to the rate of interest a company is paying on a loan, the level of leverage is reduced.

If the opposite occurs, and interest payments are higher than the return on investment, the company could possibly be put into a perilous risk situation – and may even face bankruptcy.

Now, let us walk ahead and discuss about the Benefits of Leverage.

There are upsides and downsides to financial leverage. 

Benefits of Leverage

  • A Great way to Access capital.

Financial leverage, deployed correctly, can turbo-boost the amount of financial capital a company deploys.

Used adeptly, financial leverage enables companies to produce a higher rate of investment return than it likely could without using leverage.

  • Good for business expansion ventures.

Leverage financing is a solid way to successfully address a specific, short-term business growth objective, like engaging in an acquisition or buyout of another company, or by paying out a one-time dividend to shareholders.

Disadvantages of Leverage

  • Risk can be high.

With financial leverage, companies can use debt as a tool to enable their business – and their revenues – to grow faster.

But if a company takes on too much debt, the risk of financial loss grows as well.

  • It can be cost-prohibitive.

By using leveraged loans and debt financing tools like high-yield bonds to grow their business, a company must pay interest to investors and lenders, a scenario that could lead to higher costs the more financial risk a company takes on.

That’s especially problematic in lean economic times, when a company can’t generate enough sales revenue to cover high-interest rate costs.

By and large, if a company has a short-term need for capital, or is involved in a complex business transaction like an acquisition, using financial leverage to get the job done can be a savvy business financing move.

Just know going in that accompanying costs can escalate, the economics of financial leverage can be exceedingly complex, and financing risks can be higher for companies using financial leverage.

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From this article on, “What is Leverage?” I hope that you understand the most important term in finance with all the relevant contents to it. We at Trading Fuel aims on delivering the correct information with right content of the particular topic in the finance industry and mostly about the stock market. You can also scroll to the older blogs that are posted earlier, to get some more in-depth knowledge about the stock market by exploring some more strategies. For any further query or doubts, you can directly contact us and we will be glad to resolve your queries.


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