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What Does Debt Mean?

Debt is money owed from one party or parties to another, plain and simple. Whether it’s money borrowed, loaned, credit, or a good sold for which payment has yet to be received, debt lives on just about every company and government’s balance sheet. Debt has a negative connotation generally, but it is not always a bad thing - in fact, having certain type of debt is good! Especially if the corporation or person borrows money at an attractive interest rate in order to invest in an asset that they expect to generate a higher return. In order to maintain a good credit standing, it is imperative that a borrower make interest payments on time and never default on debt. Continue reading...

What Does Debt Financing Mean?

Debt financing occurs when a company borrows money or secures financing through loans, with the obligation to repay the money (typically with interest). Generally, a corporation will engage in debt financing by selling bonds in the marketplace or to private investors, or with promissory notes or commercial paper. Generally the terms of the bond or the loan will have the company commit as collateral assets of the business, such as real estate, cash on hand, or fixed assets. Continue reading...

What are Debt Ratios?

Debt ratios give a relative picture of a company’s ability to repay debts, make interest payments, and meet other financial obligations. They generally compare the level of debt in a company to the level of assets. Debt ratios are key for investors and particularly creditors, to determine the overall level of financial risk faced by a company. Debt ratios that increasingly turn unattractive can serve as “canaries in a coal mine” that a company is in danger of bankruptcy or default. There are several types of debt ratios, such as debt-to-equity, debt-to-capital, cash flow to debt, and so on. Continue reading...

What is the Debt Ratio?

The debt ratio measures a company’s total debt to total assets. It is the simplest calculation available for determining how indebted a company is on a relative basis. The debt ratio is crucial for determining a company’s financial standing, and should be considered by potential investors. To calculate the debt ratio, one only needs to divide total liabilities (i.e. long-term and short-term liabilities) by total assets. Continue reading...

What is the Debt-to-Equity Ratio?

Also known as ‘leverage,’ the debt-to-equity ratio indicates the relative proportion of a company’s debt to total shareholder equity. Given that debt is looked at relative to shareholder equity, the debt-to-equity ratio is often given greater consideration than the debt ratio for determining leverage and risk. Similar to debt ratio, a lower debt-to-equity means that a company has less leverage and a stronger equity position. Continue reading...

What is the Debt to Capital Ratio?

The debt-to-capital ratio is a measure of a company’s leverage that looks at total debt compared to total capital (shareholder equity + debt). This measure of leverage is not a globally accepted accounting practice, therefore it is important for analysts to learn exactly what is being included by the company as their debt and equity in calculating the ratio. Generally speaking, a higher debt to capital ratio indicates that the company is financing more of its operations and needs through the debt markets versus with equity. Comparing debt-to-capital ratios amongst companies within the same sector or industry can be a useful exercise. Continue reading...

What is the Capitalization Ratio?

The capitalization ratio measures a company’s leverage, or the amount of long-term debt it holds relative to long-term debt + shareholder equity. Essentially, it is a measure of how capitalized a company is to support operations and growth. Continue reading...

What is the 'Fixed Assets to Net Worth' Ratio?

The fixed assets to net worth ratio is a calculation intended to measure the solvency of a company. It generally tells the analyst what percentage of a company’s assets are cash vs. fixed assets. To calculate the ratio, you divide net fixed assets into net worth. A fixed assets to net worth ratio greater than 0.75, generally, means that a company has too much of their net worth tied up in assets like equipment, machinery, land, and so on. Continue reading...

What is the 'Non-Current Assets to Net Worth' Ratio?

The non-current assets to net worth ratio will give the analyst an idea of how much of a company’s value is tied-up in non-current assets. As a quick refresher, ‘non-current assets’ are those that most likely will not convert to cash within a year’s time, also known as a long-term asset. Where a company’s non-current asset to net worth ratio lies depends on the industry, but generally speaking a company wants to avoid having that ratio rise above 1 to 1.5. That means the company is highly illiquid, and could be vulnerable in the event of an economic shock. Continue reading...

What is Cash Flow to Debt Ratio?

The cash flow to debt ratio measures a company’s operating cash flow versus its total debt. It is a useful tool for measuring a company’s ‘coverage,’ which looks at how well equipped a company is to meet its ongoing debt obligations (interest payments, for example) based on the amount of cash it generates through sales/service. There are different methodologies for calculating the ratio, but the most conservative are using free cash flow as the numerator and all redeemable debt (short-term, long-term, preferred stock) as the denominator. Continue reading...

What is Collateral?

Collateral is an asset/property that a borrower commits to a lender in exchange for a loan, which will be forfeited if the borrower defaults. A loan that has collateral attached to it will generally carry a more favorable interest rate, but that is not necessarily always the case. Some examples of collateral are a house when you take out a mortgage, your car when you take out an auto loan, or the stocks in your portfolio if you take your account on margin. Continue reading...

What is Effective Annual Interest Rate?

Also known as the annual equivalent rate (AER), the effective annual interest rate is the actual annual interest rate on a bond or loan when it compounds more than once a year. The effects of compounding will make the AER higher than the annual interest rate if the security compounds greater than annually. Continue reading...

What Des 'Compounding' Mean?

Compounding refers to when your asset generates interest, and then that interest is reinvested to create additional interest on the now larger amount. Put simply, it’s when your earnings generate additional earnings. Albert Einstein once referred to compound interest as the “greatest mathematical discovery of all time.” Compound interest only requires two things to work: interest and time. Long-term investors that can resist the temptation to touch any of the principal or interest over the life of their investment are sure to reap the magnificent rewards of compound interest. Continue reading...

What is Contribution Margin?

Contribution margin measures how efficiently a company can produce a good relative to its variable cost. Goods with high contribution margins are the most profitable. The contribution margin can be helpful in deciding what goods can go on sale and for how much, and it allows management to decipher how to improve efficiency in production while keeping variable costs low. Additionally, if there is a bottleneck in the supply chain for an input that is used to produce two different products, management could use contribution margin to decide which product takes takes priority. Continue reading...

What is the Contribution Margin Ratio?

The contribution margin ratio is a financial metric that presents the profit (less variable expenses) as a percentage of net sales. It helps businesses understand the profitability of individual products or the entire business and can be used to make informed decisions about pricing, production, and profitability. However, the contribution margin ratio has limitations and should be considered in conjunction with other financial and non-financial factors when making business decisions. Continue reading...

What is Cost of Debt?

The cost of debt is a calculation that determines the actual cost of a company’s debt financing. Since interest payments are generally tax deductible, the cost of debt may not be as simple as just adding up all of the interest paid on a loan. It would have to be adjusted for the tax savings, such that it is total interest paid less the tax savings. Continue reading...

What is the Current Ratio/Liquidity Ratio?

The current ratio is a measure of a company’s immediate liquidity, calculated by dividing current assets by current liabilities. The value of this ratio lies in determining whether a company's short-term assets (cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, receivables and inventory) are sufficient enough to pay-off its short-term liabilities (notes payable, current portion of term debt, payables, accrued expenses and taxes). Generally speaking, the higher the current ratio, the better. Continue reading...

What are Current Yields?

The current yield on a bond takes into account its annual interest payment but also the price at which it can be sold. The yield on a bond held to maturity is fairly straightforward. However, if the bond you are holding is trading at a price higher or lower than where you purchased it, the current yield would be different than the yield to maturity. For example, if you purchased a 5% bond at a price of $100, but the current market price was $90, your current yield would be significantly lower than 5%. To calculate, simply divide annual cash inflows by market price. Continue reading...

What is a Debenture?

A debenture is a non-secured loan, meaning that it is not backed by collateral or other assets. In other words, it is a loan backed by general credit. Corporations and governments issue debentures regularly, and an example of a government debenture would be a U.S. Treasury. Continue reading...

What Does it Mean to Deleverage?

When a company “deleverages,” it means it is attempting to shrink the amount of debt on its books relative to its assets. In some cases the act of deleveraging requires a company to sell-off/liquidate key assets in order to pay down debt, which ultimately means downsizing as well. A company may choose to deleverage as a strategic tactic, but often times they are forced to as a result of economic circumstances. Continue reading...

What is the Interest Coverage Ratio?

Also known as the debt service ratio, The interest coverage ratio is a measure of how many times a company can pay the interest owed on its debt with EBIT. To calculate it, you simply divide EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) by interest expense. A company with a low interest coverage ratio means it has fewer earnings available to make interest payments, which can imply solvency issues and could mean a company would be at risk if interest rates go up. Continue reading...

What is an Interest Rate?

An interest rate is a simple financial principle that’s been around for centuries, whereby a borrower has to pay for money borrowed. The interest rate is agreed to between the lender and the borrower, and there may be provisions under which the rate could change over the course of  a loan. In simple terms, an interest rate is the cost of money. Continue reading...

What is a Jumbo Loan?

A jumbo loan is a mortgage loan that exceeds the conforming loan limits set by the Office of Federal Enterprise Housing Oversight. For borrowers with low debt to income ratios and good credit scores, jumbo loans are often utilized for purchases of larger or luxury homes. Often times jumbo loans are too large in size to be guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and are securitized in other ways. Continue reading...

What is a Letter of Credit?

A letter of credit is a provided by a bank or financial institution on behalf of a borrower or buyer, to ensure the seller that payments will be made on time and in full. In the event that the buyer is unable to make payment on the purchase, the bank will have to step-in to cover the full or remaining amount of the purchase. Letters of credit are often used in international transactions to guarantee that payment will be received. Continue reading...

What is Liability?

As a general statement, a liability refers to some form of currency (money or service) that is owed from one party to another, typically in the form of debt or a balance outstanding. On a balance sheet, a company’s liabilities would include its loans, accounts payable, outstanding debt. Short-term liabilities are generally those owed within a year, whereas long-term liabilities might stretch beyond that. Continue reading...

What are 'Liar Loans'?

Liar loans are a term that refers to loans or mortgages that were granted with little or no request for qualification documentation, such as proof of income. On certain low-documentation loan programs, such as stated income/stated asset (SISA) loans, income and assets are simply stated on the loan application. Then there are still other loan programs known as no income/no asset (NINA) loans, where the applicant essentially does not have to provide any proof of eligibility. These types of loans opened the door for fraudulent lending practices, which ultimately bankrupted several mortgage companies during the 2008 financial crisis. Continue reading...

What is Financial Liquidity?

Financial liquidity refers to the ease with which an asset can be converted to cash. Assessing financial liquidity is important on a corporation’s balance sheet, as it serves as an indication of how readily a company can pay off debts or weather a crisis. Continue reading...

What is a Liquidity Ratio?

A liquidity ratio is also known as a current ratio, and it generally measures the amount of cash or readily available cash relative to current liabilities. Liquidity ratios are important measures to test a company’s solvency, in addition to its potential ability to handle economic shocks. Continue reading...

What is Long-Term Debt?

Long-term debt refers to the duration of a liability/amount owed, and to qualify it must be due at least 12 months out. The period is in reference to 12+ months from the date of the balance sheet. A company will typically take on long-term debt in the form of a mortgage for property owned, or as capital for growth raised through bond sales or other debentures. Continue reading...

What is a Mortgage Forbearance Agreement?

In the event that a borrower is having issues making mortgage payments on time, they may try to seek a mortgage forbearance agreement to delay the foreclosure process. The mortgage forbearance agreement would specify the plan for resuming mortgage payments on time, and is designed to be a temporary solution to an unforeseen issue with the borrower (unemployment, health issues). Continue reading...

What are Mortgage-Backed Securities?

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are products that bundle mortgages together and are traded like securities for sale on the markets. Typically investment banks build these products by bundling mortgages with different interest rates and risk premiums, with the hope of the investor gaining a higher yield than can be found from traditional risk-free products, like U.S. Treasuries. Mortgage-backed securities got an infamous name during the 2008 financial crisis, as many of the packaged loans were subprime in nature. Many MBS products lost incredible value during the crisis, particularly following ruling FAS 157, which required banks to mark their value to market. Continue reading...

What is Off-Balance-Sheet-Financing?

A company might use this maneuver in order to keep their debt to equity levels in check. The most frequently used types of off-balance-sheet-financing are joint ventures, research and development partnerships, and operating leases. Continue reading...

What is Pari-Passu?

“Pari-passu” is a Latin phrase meaning “equal footing,” typically in reference to treatment of creditors or beneficiaries when assets are distributed. Some examples of pari-passu in practice would be bankruptcy proceedings when credits are given ‘equal access’ to assets of the company, or in a probate hearing when assets are divided equally amongst beneficiaries. Continue reading...

What is Subordinated Debt?

Subordinated Debt is a junior security which will be serviced after the Unsubordinated Debt in the event of a company bankruptcy. Subordinated Debt has been deemed less important than the Unsubordinated Debt that a company has taken on, in terms of what priority it will have for payment in the event of company default. The amount of money and length of term on the loan are considerations when making this distinction. Continue reading...

What are Subprime Loans?

Subprime loans are loans made by institutions to individuals who do not meet the industry standards for a desirable loan client. Lenders such as banks and mortgage companies are able to shift much of the risk of loans they make by selling the debt off to investors and investment banks in the form of collateralized mortgage obligations and other forms of securitized debt. This paves the way for lenders to adopt more liberal guidelines around who can receive a loan for their home purchase and so forth. A thorough banker who is preserving the financial stability of his employing institution will perform due diligence to prove that a client can meet the repayment schedule for the loan by showing adequate cash flow and credit history. Continue reading...

What was the Subprime Meltdown?

A high volume of loans issued to those who were unable to repay them, and a high volume of derivative securities traded on top of these loans, contributed to the subprime meltdown of 2007-2009. A large amount of collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs) and other collateralized debt were owned by large institutions and investors as alternative high yield investments prior to the crash of 2007-2009. Continue reading...

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