Everything You Need to Know About Interest Coverage Ratio

May 3, 2023
In order to assess the degree of danger associated with a company's existing debt or potential new spending, the interest coverage ratio is frequently employed by lenders, investors, and debtors. With the interest payout ratio in place, debtors and financiers can feel easy knowing they will be paid on time. Most businesses have multiple lines of credit with various lenders. Since this is the case, financial organizations require frequent guarantees of payment, particularly for their interest.

What is the interest coverage ratio?

The interest coverage ratio (ICR) is a debt and revenue measure used to ascertain whether or not a business can comfortably make interest payments on its debt. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) are used to determine the interest coverage ratio, which is then compared to the interest cost for the same time period. As such, it is categorized as follows:

  • An indicator of a company's financial framework and danger is its debt-to-equity ratio.
  • A company's solvency and the existence of any imminent insolvency risks can be gauged using the solvency ratio.

Formula and Calculation of the Interest Coverage Ratio

The term "coverage" refers to the number of quarters or fiscal years that interest payments can be made out of the company's present accessible profits, hence the name "interest coverage ratio." It is a measure of the company's ability to meet its financial commitments out of its operating profits. The algorithm is as follows:

Interest Coverage Ratio= EBIT/Interest Expense


EBIT - Earnings before interest and taxes, which is the operating profit of the company

Interest expense is the total interest payable on multiple borrowings of the company

The smaller the percentage, the more of the company's resources are going toward servicing its debt. A company's capacity to pay interest costs is suspect if the number is 1.5 or lower. The threshold below which lenders are likely to decline to give more money to a business because the company's risk for failure may be viewed as too high is an interest coverage ratio of 1.5. If a company's percentage is less than one, it will have to use its capital on hand or seek additional financing, both of which are challenging for the reasons given above. Otherwise, the business risks insolvency even if monthly profits are poor for just one month.

Businesses must have reserves of cash greater than the amount needed to cover interest payments. The profitability of a business is heavily influenced by its ability to pay its interest bills, which is a measure of stability.

Definition of the Interest Coverage Ratio

Maintaining sufficient cash flow to cover interest expenses is a constant and vital worry for any business. Any time a business starts to have trouble meeting its financial commitments, it risks having to take on more debt or use cash that could be better put toward things like long-term asset purchases or unexpected expenses.

Analyzing interest coverage ratios over time can often provide a much better image of a company's situation and direction than looking at a single interest coverage ratio. The interest coverage ratio is a wonderful indicator of a company's short-term financial health, and it can be analyzed by looking at the ratio on a weekly basis for a set period of time, say the past five years.

Furthermore, the amount of this percentage that is considered optimal is somewhat subjective. A less-than-ideal percentage may be acceptable to some banks or prospective bond purchasers in return for a greater interest rate on the company's debt.

The relevance of interest coverage rate

Lenders and debtors alike can benefit from the interest payment ratio. Lenders can gauge the debtor's financial stability and punctuality with interest payments based on this percentage. Therefore, a larger percentage indicates that the debtors have a lower likelihood of defaulting on their interest payments across their various borrowings.

There is no danger of defaulting on interest payments or going insolvent when the ICR is significant. Borrowing businesses can gain insight into a company's financial health via the ICR. If they can get that percentage down, they can still do their job and get ahead financially.

When conducting trend analysis, in which financial records are compared, the ICR is useful. By looking at historical data in this way, they can better anticipate upcoming trends. As a consequence, businesses have a chance to work on their success going forward.

Interest Coverage Ratio Variances

Before diving into the ratios of different businesses, it's essential to keep in mind typical variants of the interest payment ratio. Since EBIT is a key component of the aforementioned formulation, the interest payment ratio outcomes may vary depending on the specific EBIT forms that were employed. These shifts include:


The interest coverage ratio can also be calculated in a number of other ways, one of which involves using profits before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) rather than EBIT. Due to the omission of depreciation and loss from EBITDA, the number of EBITDA-based computations is typically larger than that of EBIT-based calculations. Since debt costs are the same whether EBITDA or net income is used, the percentage calculated using EBITDA will be greater.


Interest coverage ratios can also be calculated with profits before interest and taxation (EBIAT) rather than EBIT. In order to provide a true image of a company's capacity to pay its interest costs, this has the impact of subtracting tax expenses from the total. In light of the significance of taxes to a company's bottom line, interest payment rates are more accurately calculated using EBITAT, or earnings before interest and taxes.

  • EBITDA Inverse Interest Coverage Ratio of Capital Expenditures.

The formula is:

(EBITDA - Capex) (Interest Expense - Capital Investment)

The EBITDA Less Capex coverage ratio establishes how many times operating income (EBITDA) remains after capital expenditures (Capex) have been subtracted.

  • Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio (FCCR)

The formula for calculating FCCR is:

(EBITDA - Capex) (Interest Expense + Present Value of Long-Term Debt)

One way to account for leasing costs in calculating a company's capacity to meet its short-term financial responsibilities is through the fixed fee coverage ratio (FCCR).

Interest Coverage Ratio Analyzation

The interest coverage ratio, like any other financial measure, can only tell part of the story when assessing a company's financial stability. Other than the debt payment percentage, these factors should also be considered when evaluating a business.

  1. Time. Interest coverage ratio trends are more indicative of a company's capacity to meet its interest obligations than a singular ratio. A company's expansion plans may necessitate the financing of a new building. Although the next income statement will include the higher interest expenses from the recent loan, the facility the loan financed may substantially boost operating income in the future, which could lead to a lower interest coverage ratio for the company.
  2. Consistency in Gains. A highly steady profit margin may convince lenders to extend credit to a business with a low interest payment ratio. Lenders will still have faith in a business that has an interest payment ratio of 2, provided that it has consistently produced running revenue over a lengthy period of time. Similarly, creditors can rest assured that the firm's debt won't impede its development.
  3. Industry. A company's interest payment ratio may be expected to be higher or lower depending on the industry it operates in. Considering the generally steady demand for energy and water, well-established utility companies can more easily handle their obligations despite having a smaller interest payout ratio. Lenders and buyers may need to see higher interest payment rates from businesses operating in more risky sectors. The interest coverage ratio is most useful when comparing businesses operating within the same sector due to these distinctions.

Constrictions Inherent in the Interest Coverage Ratio

The interest coverage ratio has some caveats that prospective investors should be aware of.

One thing to keep in mind is that interest coverage varies greatly between sectors and even between firms within the same industry. In certain sectors, such as utilities, a two-to-one debt payment ratio is considered adequate for well-established businesses.

Even with a low-interest coverage ratio, a well-established utility may be able to dependably pay its debts because of the predictability of its income and output, thanks in large part to government rules. A minimal permissible interest coverage percentage of three or higher is often seen in sectors with greater volatility, such as manufacturing.

Typically, the company of firms like these is more prone to ups and downs. For instance, the decline in vehicle purchases that occurred during the Great Recession of 2008 had a significant impact on the automobile business. Another unforeseen occurrence that could harm interest payment rates is an employee walkout. In order to weather the inevitable lean times, businesses in these sectors must depend on a higher interest coverage ratio.

Due to the vast differences between sectors, it is only fair to compare one company's percentage to others in the same industry, preferably with comparable business strategies and income levels.

Even though it's crucial to factor in all debt when determining the interest payment ratio, some businesses may elect to separate out or exclude specific categories of debt. Therefore, it is essential to check if all obligations were included when contemplating a company's self-published interest payment ratio.

What Does an Interest Coverage Ratio Reveal?

The interest coverage percentage evaluates a firm's capacity to service its loan. It's a measure of debt that can help tell you how healthy a business is. Coverage refers to the typical number of fiscal years over which interest payments can be made from the cash on hand at the business. In layman's words, it indicates the number of times annual profits can cover the company's expenses. If a company's percentage is high, it indicates that it is in a strong financial position to meet its interest payments, while if it is low, it indicates that it may be struggling financially.

How Do You Figure Out the Interest Coverage Ratio?

EBIT (or a variant thereof) is divided by interest on loan expenditures (the cost of acquired financing) over a specified time period, typically a year, to arrive at the ratio.

What is a Good Interest Coverage Ratio?

If the number is greater than one, it shows that the business has sufficient profits and steady income to pay its interest expenses. Although experts and buyers may consider a ratio of 1.5 for interest payment to be adequate, a ratio of 2.0 or higher is favored. The interest payment ratio may need to be significantly higher than three in order for a company with typically more fluctuating sales to be deemed healthy.

The meaning of a Bad Interest Coverage Ratio.

Any interest coverage percentage that falls short of one indicates that a company's present profits are inadequate to pay off its debt. Even with an interest coverage ratio below 1.5, it is highly unlikely that a company will be able to consistently cover its interest costs. This is particularly true if the business is susceptible to periodic or repetitive declines in sales.

How can we better pay our loan expenses?

Two methods exist for boosting the ICR. One way to do this is to grow income, which will, in turn, increase EBIT or profits before interest and taxes. Reducing interest and other financing expenses is another option.


Interest coverage, also known as the Times Interest Earned (TIE) ratio, is a measure of a company's ability to meet its interest payments by dividing its operating income (net income plus depreciation and amortization) by its interest expenditures for the same time period. If a company's interest coverage percentage is less than 1.5, it may not have sufficient cash to meet its debt service obligations. It is ideal for comparing ratios among businesses in the same sector and with a comparable company structure because interest payment ratios differ widely across industries.