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Debt to EBITDA Ratio

Category — Financial Statements
By Konstantin Vasilev Member of the Board of Directors of Cbonds, Ph.D. in Economics
Updated September 11, 2023

What is the Debt to EBITDA ratio?

The Debt/EBITDA (Debt to Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) is a financial ratio that gauges the extent of income available to address debt obligations before accounting for interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization costs. This ratio offers insights into its financial health by assessing a company’s capacity to settle its accumulated debt and comparing it to the industry average. A higher ratio value might signal that a company is burdened with an excessive debt burden.

Financial institutions frequently specify a target Debt/EBITDA ratio in terms of business loans. Companies are required to uphold this predetermined level; otherwise, they risk triggering an immediate demand for the entire loan repayment. Credit rating agencies commonly employ this measure to evaluate the likelihood of a company defaulting on its issued debt. Enterprises with an elevated Debt/EBITDA ratio may struggle to manage their debt obligations effectively, potentially leading to a downgrade in their credit rating.

What can the Debt to EBITDA ratio tell you?

The Debt-to-EBITDA ratio offers valuable insights into a company’s financial health and ability to effectively manage its debt and liabilities.

When lenders and analysts examine a company’s Debt-to-EBITDA ratio, they are seeking to understand how well the company can cover its debt obligations. The ratio compares the company’s total obligations, which encompass both debt and other liabilities, to the actual cash generated by the company. This provides a measure of the company’s capacity to repay its debts and fulfill its other financial commitments.

EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) represents the company’s earnings or income and is calculated by adding back interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization expenses to net income. EBITDA is often viewed as a more accurate indicator of operational earnings compared to net income. This is because some analysts consider interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization as factors that can distort real cash flow. EBITDA is seen as a cleaner representation of the actual cash flows available for debt repayment.

However, there are limitations that need to be considered when interpreting the Debt-to-EBITDA ratio. While the ratio is straightforward to calculate—debt can be found on the balance sheet, and EBITDA can be derived from the income statement—it might not provide the most accurate assessment of earnings. Beyond just earnings, analysts are interested in assessing the actual amount of cash available for repaying debt.

Depreciation and amortization are non-cash expenses that don’t directly affect cash flows, but interest on debt can be a significant cash outflow for certain companies. When banks and investors analyze the current Debt-to-EBITDA ratio to gauge a company’s debt repayment capability, they should consider the impact of interest payments on the company’s ability to service debt. This consideration is important even if the debt is intended to be included in new issuances.

For this reason, a more comprehensive measure of cash available for debt repayment could be net income minus capital expenditures plus depreciation and amortization. This approach takes into account the non-cash nature of some expenses while addressing the importance of interest expenses in the context of debt repayment analysis.

Debt to EBITDA ratio formula

The formula to calculate the Debt-to-EBITDA (Debt to Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) ratio is as follows:

Debt-to-EBITDA = Total Debt / EBITDA

In this formula:

  • "Total Debt" represents the combined value of a company’s obligations that incur interest.
    Calculating the debt/EBITDA ratio involves adding both the company’s short-term debt and long-term debt obligations, which are typically available in its quarterly and annual financial statements. Following this, divide the obtained sum by the company’s EBITDA figure.

  • "EBITDA" stands for Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. It’s a measure of a company’s operational performance that excludes non-operational expenses like interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Additionally, the formula for the Net Debt-to-EBITDA ratio is as follows:

Net Debt-to-EBITDA = (Total Debt minus Cash and Cash Equivalents) / EBITDA

In this formula:

  • "Total Debt" still represents the company’s interest-bearing liabilities.

  • "Cash and Cash Equivalents" refers to the readily available liquid assets the company holds.

Both ratios provide insights into a company’s financial strength and ability to manage its debt relative to its earnings and operational performance.

Debt to EBITDA calculation

To calculate the Debt-to-EBITDA ratio, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the total amount of debt. Include all interest-bearing obligations, such as bank loans, bonds, and other long-term liabilities.

  2. Determine the EBITDA. Calculate Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization by summing up a company’s operational earnings.

  3. Divide the total debt by the EBITDA. This calculation yields the Debt-to-EBITDA ratio.

To calculate the Net Debt-to-EBITDA ratio, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the total amount of debt. Consider all interest-bearing liabilities, such as bank loans, bonds, and other long-term obligations.

  2. Determine the total cash and cash equivalents. This encompasses the liquid assets held by the company.

  3. Calculate the net debt. Subtract the total cash and cash equivalents from the total debt.

  4. Determine the EBITDA. Calculate Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization by summing up a company’s operational earnings.

  5. Divide the net debt by the EBITDA. This computation provides the Net Debt-to-EBITDA ratio.


Let’s illustrate the concept with an example:

Company A has a total debt of $100 million and an EBITDA of $10 million. Using these values, we can calculate the initial debt/EBITDA ratio:

Initial Debt-to-EBITDA = Total Debt / EBITDA = $100 million / $10 million = 10

Let’s consider a scenario where Company A pays off 50% of its debt over the next five years and simultaneously increases its EBITDA to $25 million. We can calculate the updated debt/EBITDA ratio:

Updated Debt-to-EBITDA = Total Debt / EBITDA = ($100 million * 50%) / $25 million = $50 million / $25 million = 2

The debt/EBITDA ratio has decreased from 10 to 2 in this scenario. A declining debt/EBITDA ratio is generally viewed positively because it indicates that the company is either reducing its debt burden or experiencing growth in earnings. On the other hand, an increasing debt/EBITDA ratio suggests that the company is accumulating debt at a faster rate than it is generating earnings.

It’s important to note that the appropriate debt/EBITDA ratio level can vary by industry. Some industries inherently require more capital investment, leading to higher debt levels. Therefore, comparing a company’s debt/EBITDA ratio to those of other companies within the same industry is crucial. For instance:

  • In one industry, a debt/EBITDA ratio of 10 might be considered normal.

  • In another industry, a ratio of 3 to 4 might be more appropriate and financially sound.


  • What is a good EBITDA to debt ratio?

  • Is a negative debt to EBITDA good?

  • What is considered funded debt?

  • How do you calculate funded debt?

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