Everything You Need to Know About Debt Service Coverage Ratio

July 27, 2023
The debt-service coverage ratio (DSCR) measures the cash available to pay off existing debt commitments. The DSCR is used to evaluate companies, projects, or individual borrowers. Macroeconomic variables determine the minimal DSCR that a creditor requires. Creditors may be more lenient with lower ratios if the economy is booming. A DSCR calculation larger than 1.0 shows that operational revenue is insufficient to satisfy yearly debt commitments, but a calculation less than one suggests possible solvency issues. The interest coverage ratio evaluates the capacity to fulfill interest payments, whereas the DSCR includes principal commitments.

What is the debt service coverage ratio?

The debt service coverage ratio, commonly abbreviated as DSCR or DSC, is a financial indicator that determines how readily an organization's operational cash flow can meet its yearly interest and principal commitments. The debt-service coverage ratio is used in corporate, public, and personal finance. The debt-service coverage ratio (DSCR) is a gauge of a company's available cash flow to fulfill existing debt obligations in the context of corporate finance. The DSCR informs stakeholders about a firm's ability to pay its obligations. Since the DSC includes principal obligations in the denominator, it is essential when a corporate borrower's capital structure includes reducing term debt (monthly or yearly principal repayments).

Perceiving debt service coverage ratio

The debt-service coverage ratio is a popular metric of the financial stability of a business, particularly for companies that are highly leveraged and have a lot of debt. The proportion analyzes the corporation's overall debt commitments to its operating revenue (including principal repayments and some capital leasing arrangements). DSCR measures will be targeted differently by different creditors, stakeholders, and partners. A company's background, industry, product pipeline, and existing lending ties are all considered. External partners may be more accommodating during seasonal operations when a company's income is variable, even though DSCR conditions are frequently incorporated in loan agreements.

Calculation of DSC

The debt-service coverage ratio calculation requires the company's net operating income and total debt servicing. Net operating income is the difference between a company's revenue and certain operating expenditures (COE), excluding taxes and interest payments. It is frequently seen as the equal of earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).

DSC / DCSR = Net operating income / Total debt services


Net Operating Income = Revenue - COE

COE = Certain operating expenses

Total Debt Service = Current debt obligations

Non-operating income is included in certain estimations of EBIT. When comparing the creditworthiness of various companies—or as an executive evaluating various periods or quarters—it is critical to use similar criteria for calculating DSCR. As a borrower, you should be aware that creditors compute DSCR in various ways. Total debt service (TDS) refers to current debt obligations, including interest, sinking fund, principal, and lease payments due next year. This will contain short-term debt as well as the present component of long-term debt on a balance sheet.

Income taxes aggravate DSCR computations, given that principal repayments are not tax deductible compared to interest payments. A more precise approach to calculating total debt service is to do the following:

TDS = (Interest × (1Tax Rate)) + Principal


TDS = Total debt service

Various financial institutions may adjust the DSCR calculation slightly. Several financial institutions might, for instance, use operating income, EBITDA, or EBIT as the numerator. When using EBITDA, the following formula is usually employed:

DSCR = (EBITDA – Cash taxes) / (Interest + Principal)


  • Interest = The full aggregate interest payable throughout the measurement period, computed on current and non-current long-term debt.
  • Principal = the total amount owed on the loan principal throughout the measuring period
  • Cash Taxes = The percentage of total income tax due in cash for the current measuring period.

Relevance of the DSCR

The debt-service coverage ratio, whether in corporate finance, government finance, or personal finance, represents the capacity to pay debt given a specific level of revenue. Net operational income is expressed as debt commitments due within a year, including interest, principal, sinking funds, and lease payments.

Creditor considerations

The DSCR is the number of export revenues required for a country to fulfill annual interest and principal payments on its international debt in the setting of government finance. This is a proportion used by financial institution lending officers to assess income property loans in the context of individual finance. Macroeconomic variables might influence the minimal DSCR that a lender will need. Financing becomes more easily available when the economy is doing well, and creditors may be more tolerant of lower ratios. A propensity to lend to less-qualified debtors can influence the economy's volatility.

Carrying out a financial analysis using DSCR

Before issuing a loan, creditors will frequently analyze the debtor's DSCR. A DSCR that is less than one indicates negative cash flow, which suggests the debtor will be incapable of meeting or paying existing debt commitments without borrowing more.

A DSCR of 0.95, for instance, indicates that there is just enough net operating income to repay 95% of yearly debt payments. In terms of personal finance, the debtor would have to dip into their finances each month to keep the project alive. Lenders generally detest negative cash flow, although some may tolerate it if the borrower has substantial assets along with their income.

If the debt-service coverage ratio is around one, such as 1.1, the organization is fragile, and a slight decrease in cash flow might cause it to be unable to service its obligations. In rare situations, creditors may demand the borrower to maintain a certain minimum DSCR while the loan is outstanding. Borrowers who fall below that minimum may be considered in default under several agreements. A DSCR larger than one indicates that the entity, whether an individual, firm, or government, has enough revenue to meet its current debt commitments.

Comparison between interest coverage ratio and DSCR

The interest coverage ratio denotes how often an organization's operational earnings will cover the interest on all obligations for a certain period. This is usually stated as a ratio and calculated on a yearly basis.

The EBIT for the specified period is divided by the total interest due for that same period to determine the interest coverage ratio. The EBIT, also known as net operational income or operating profit, is determined by deducting overhead and operating expenditures from revenue, such as rent, cost of products, freight, labor, and utilities. This figure represents the cash available after deducting all costs required to keep the firm functioning.

The greater the EBIT to interest payment ratio, the more financially secure the firm is. This measure solely takes into account interest payments and not payments made on principal loan sums that creditors may ask. The debt service coverage ratio is slightly more detailed. This indicator measures a company's capacity to make minimal interest and principal payments, including sinking fund contributions, over a specified period. EBIT is divided by the entire amount of principal and interest payments required for a particular period to create net operating income to compute DSCR. The DSCR is a little more powerful indication of an organization's financial wellness since it includes principal payments in addition to interest.

A corporation with a debt-service coverage ratio of less than 1.00 does not produce enough income to meet its minimal debt expenditures in either circumstance. This is a perilous proposition regarding company management or investing because even a short period of lower-than-average revenue might be disastrous.

The pros and cons of DSCR

Pros of DSCR

·       DSCR, like other ratios, has value when measured consistently throughout time. A corporation can compute monthly DSCR to examine its average trend over time and forecast future ratios. A falling DSCR, for example, may be an early warning indication of the financial condition of a business deterioration. It can also be utilized significantly in the budgeting or strategic planning processes.

·       The DSCR may also be compared between firms. Management may utilize rival DSCR figures to examine how it compares to others, including how effective other organizations may be in leveraging loans to fuel corporate growth.

·       When evaluating an enterprise's long-term financial health, DSCR is a more comprehensive analytical technical. DSCR is a more cautious, wide computation than the interest coverage ratio. The DSCR is an annualized ratio that frequently depicts a moving 12-month period. Other financial ratios typically provide a single snapshot of a company's health; thus, DSCR may provide a more precise depiction of the activities of an organization.

Drawbacks of DSCR

·       Depending on the lender's requirements, the DSCR computation might be altered to be based on net operating income, EBIT, or EBITDA. When operating income, EBIT, or EBITDA are employed, the company's income may be overestimated because not all expenses are taken into account. For instance, in all three cases, income does not include taxes.

·       The DSCR's dependence on accounting guidelines is another problem. DSCR is partially determined by accrual-based accounting rules, despite the fact that debt and loans are dependent on mandatory monetary payments. Hence, there is some contradiction when analyzing GAAP-based financial accounts and a loan arrangement with fixed cash payments.

·       It can be considered a more sophisticated formula than existing financial ratios.

·       There is no standard treatment or need from one creditor to the next.

Why use EBITDA?

EBITDA does not equal cash flow. Nevertheless, it is frequently used as an indicator because it is simple to determine, and its concept and purposes are generally recognized across jurisdictions.

Among the most crucial points are:

·       Depreciation and amortization are non-cash expenditures, and thus. At the same time, they are expensed for accounting reasons, and this is cash that is really available to pay debt and should be put back.

·       Given that we include it in the denominator, adding interest back to the numerator must be done (we do not want to double-count it).

Why are cash taxes being phased out?

In most countries, income taxes owed to regional or federal governments are considered "super-priority" obligations (meaning they rank higher than even the most senior secured creditors). In essence, the cash part of taxes owed (any non-deferred amount) must be paid in order for the firm to continue functioning without interference from tax authorities.

Why not just utilize the cash flow from the cash flow (CF) statement?

Cash flow (as shown on the CF statement) comprises cash increases and declines such as shortening or extending payable days, increasing or reducing inventory rotations, and collecting payments from clients more (or less) swiftly. Since these vary from time frame to time frame and are profoundly impacted by market trends and supply chain relationships, CF from operations does not always indicate an organization's capacity to reliably produce earnings and cash flow from its core business operations. This is primarily why EBITDA is utilized.

What constitutes a good DSCR?

A "good" DSCR is determined by the company's industry, competition, and stage of development. For example, a smaller firm starting to generate cash flow may have lower DSCR requirements than a mature corporation already well established. A DSCR exceeding 1.25, on the other hand, is frequently deemed "strong," while ratios below 1.00 may suggest that the firm is experiencing financial troubles.


The DSCR is a regularly used financial statistic that compares a company's operational income to its debt obligations. This ratio can determine if a company's income will sufficiently satisfy its principal and interest commitments. The DSCR is widely utilized by lenders or third parties to manage risk in loan conditions by adopting operational criteria. When companies and banks negotiate loan contracts, DSCR is an often-employed metric. In addition to assisting banks in risk management, DSCRs may assist analysts and investors in appraising an enterprise's financial soundness.