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What does Leverage Mean?

Leverage is the use of borrowed capital or debt to try and increase the potential return of an investment. An individual might leverage an investment account by going on margin to purchase additional securities, whereas the amount of debt used to finance a company’s assets is considered to be that company’s level of leverage. A firm with significantly more debt than equity is considered to be highly leveraged. Continue reading...

What is a Leveraged Buyout?

A leveraged buyout occurs when members of management use outside borrowed capital to buy a controlling share in the company. Often times, the assets of the company being acquired are used as collateral for the borrowed capital. The purpose of leveraged buyouts is to acquire another company without having to commit a lot of working capital up front. In a typical leveraged buyout, you may see a ratio of 90% debt financing to 10% equity used to acquire the company. Continue reading...

What is a Leveraged Loan?

A leveraged loan is a commercial loan that is generally created by a few participants, and packaged and offered by one or several investment banks. Leveraged loans are typically targeted at companies that already have a significant amount of debt and may be limited in their options to access capital elsewhere. They are considered on the higher end of the risk spectrum. Continue reading...

What is Operating Leverage?

Operating leverage is a measure of how critical each sale of a company is to overall cash flow. If a company has high operating leverage, it means that it relies on fewer sales with very high gross margins, versus a company with low operating leverage that experiences higher levels of sales with lower gross margins. As an example, a convenient store has less operating leverage than a business that sells yachts. 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 Unlevered Beta?

Unlevered beta measures the Beta (a volatility indicator that denotes how closely an investment follows movements in the market as a whole) of a company when the effects of debt (leverage) are removed, allowing investors to gauge risk strictly as a function of company assets. The beta of a company’s equity stock is a measure of volatility relative to the rest of the market, impacting Price-to-Earnings (P/E) calculations and other valuations. When beta increases, the cost of equity increases, and results in a higher P/E. Unlevering the beta can give a clearer picture of the market risk of a company’s equity shares, as higher debt relative to equity usually constitutes more risk to investors. 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 Gearing Ratio?

In mechanics, gears are used to increase torque and to translate the force to other areas. In finance, a gearing ratio is a term referring the amount leverage being used, compared to the amount of equity. A high gearing ratio is almost the same as a high debt-to-equity ratio. The gearing ratio is computed in a slightly different manner. Gearing is another word for leverage. High amounts of debt can spell trouble for a company down the road, and investors are wise to consider that. Continue reading...

What is Net Operating Profit After Tax?

Net Operating Profit After Tax (NOPAT) is a way to measure profits that excludes the impact of debt financing (via tax benefits and costs). The easiest way to think about Net Operating Profit After Tax is as a company’s profit if it were unleveraged, i.e., if it had no debt. There are costs associated with debt but also tax benefits, so there’s some give and take. The reason an analyst might use NOPAT is to gain a more accurate look at the operating efficiency of a leveraged companies, since it excludes the tax savings many companies get because of existing debt. Continue reading...

What is the commodity market?

The commodity market is an international network of exchanges which trade commodity spot contracts, futures contracts, and derivatives. The largest commodities exchange in the world is the CME Group in Chicago. Futures are a large part of commodities trading, and the commodities futures market includes currency futures and swaps, index futures and single-stock futures, and other derivatives based on futures contracts. 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 a Bond?

A bond is a contract which “binds” the lender to the debtor, where an individual investor is generally the lender and the debtor is the company or government which has borrowed funds. When a company or government entity needs more capital, whether to fund operations or a specific project, it can borrow money from investors instead of from a banking institution. Where there is a risk of the investor not being repaid, the interest rate will be proportionally higher. The simplest way a bond works is with set payments at set intervals that gradually repay the debt and interest owed to the investor over a set amount of time. Continue reading...

What is a Credit Crunch?

A credit crunch is when access to liquidity dries up dramatically in rapid fashion, or becomes less accessible due to a spike in borrowing rates. Central banks will often step-in to try and curb the lack of liquidity by offering the markets access to cash at lower than market rates, in the event of a crisis. Perhaps the most famous credit crunch in history occurred in late 2007 and early 2008, when bank balance sheets became highly leveraged overnight due to mark-to-market accounting rules that were applied to the mortgage backed security portfolios on their balance sheets. Continue reading...

What is Margin?

The act of “going on margin” means borrowing money from the custodian of your account, in order to purchase additional securities. Another way of saying this is that you are “leveraging” your account. Investors who go on margin are trying to pump up gains in their account, but doing so means taking the risk of outsized losses if you are wrong. To take an account on margin is not free - the custodian will charge interest for the loan, and will essentially use the assets in your account as collateral. 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 is Terminal Value?

The "end" value at a specified date in the future of an investment or cash flow. Terminal value is a term used in value calculations looking forward toward the future value of an asset or cash flow, and also in calculations which start with the Terminal Value and depreciate the asset over the intervening years until one arrives at the Present Value. Can be used in calculations regarding a business, an index, a cash flow, or an asset. Horizon Value is a synonym, and is perhaps better suited to describe the way the calculation chooses a time horizon of a specific number of years, but otherwise uses the same numbers in an equation that will estimate the value if the business or index went on growing at the same rate into perpetuity. 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...

Should I Use Double or Triple ETFs?

Double or triple ETFs can be very volatile investments, so an investor should be aware of the risks involved. By using future contracts to gain maximum leverage, ETFs known as Double or Triple ETFs offer magnified exposure to specific indices. Double and triple ETFs provide double or triple returns, but also incur double or triple losses. For this reason, double and triple ETFs are an extremely risky investment, Day traders and institutional investors make use of these products as short-term hedging strategies or speculative bets. Continue reading...

What is an Accelerated Return Note (ARN)?

An accelerated return note (ARN) is an unsecured debt instrument that uses derivatives to offer leveraged returns and minimal loss exposure to retail investors. Accelerated Return Notes came onto the scene around 2010-2012. They are a form of structured note marketed primarily by Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. They were packaged as offering “accelerated” returns on familiar indexes and stocks. The way such returns are generated is by taking up 2x or 3x positions in calls and futures on the index or stock of choice. Continue reading...

What is Weighted Average?

A weighted average is a calculation considers the relative importance or relevance of a piece of data. Weighted averages multiply numbers in the average by a predetermined factor, like time, that enhances the relevance given to the number. One example of a weighted average is the Exponential Moving Average (EMA), an alternative to the Simple Moving Average (SMA) line which gives greater weight to the more recent data. SMAs are effective in their simplicity, but their efficacy is most closely tied to how they are used. Continue reading...

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