Degree of Financial Leverage Formula

Updated on May 9, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is The Degree of Financial Leverage Formula?

The degree of financial leverage formula calculates the change in net income occurring because of change in earnings before interest and taxes of the company. It helps determine how sensitive the company’s profit is to the changes in the capital structure. The higher this degree of financial leverage, the more volatile the earnings of a firm are.

Degree of Financial Leverage Formula

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The degree of financial leverage (DFL) refers to net income sensitivity to the fluctuation caused by a change in the capital structure. It revolves around the concept used to evaluate the amount of debt that a company is required to repay.

Key Takeaways

  • The degree of financial leverage formula determines the change in net income due to the difference in earnings before interest and the company taxes.
  • The formula for the calculation is dividing the percentage change in the net income by the percentage change in the earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).
  • A low ratio means a debt’s low percentage in a company’s capital structure, showing minor net income sensitivity to the variation in operating income, and these companies are more stable. Conversely, a high ratio shows a higher debt percentage in a company’s capital structure, and such companies are vulnerable.

Degree of Financial Leverage Explained

The degree of financial leverage formula helps derive the sensitivity of the earnings per share (EPS) with respect to the changing operating income caused by the change in the capital structure of a firm. The degree tells the firm how likely it is for it to be burdened with financial liabilities. In short, it helps quantify the financial risk a business is exposed to.

When the degree of financial leverage formula results in a higher degree, it reflects the higher volatility of the earnings per share. This degree lets companies know the amount of debt or financial obligations that their capital structure allows it to bear. Based on this degree, therefore, the firms can decide the extent to which it should take financial risk.

The interest that a company has to pay on its debt or financial liabilities is a fixed expense. Hence, the changes in the figures are reflective of the EPS and returns. When the operating income is on the higher side, the returns and earnings per share of a firm are good, while if the operating income reflects a tight figure, it is indicative of tough economic times.

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Video on Financial Leverage Ratio (Formula)

 

How To Calculate?

When it comes to calculating the degree of financial leverage using the formula, there are multiple ways of figuring that out.

  • First, the formula is derived by dividing the percentage change in the net income by the percentage change in the earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT), and mathematically, it is represented as,

Formula = % change in Net income / % change in EBIT

  • Second, on the other hand, reflects the formula derived by EBIT divided by the earnings before taxes (EBT) of the company, which is mathematically represented as,

Formula = EBIT / EBT

Let us have a look at a series of steps to understand how the calculation can be efficiently done to achieve accurate results:

Follow the below steps:

  1. Firstly, determine the net income of a particular year from the income statement. Then, calculate the percentage change in net income by subtracting the previous year’s net income from that of the current year and then dividing the result by the previous year’s net income.

    % change in net income = (Net incomecurrent year – Net incomeprevious year)/ Net incomeprevious year* 100%

  2. Next, determine the EBIT for a particular year by adding the interest expense and taxes to the net income, all of which are line items from the income statement. Then, calculate the percentage change in EBIT by subtracting the EBIT of the previous year from that of the current year and then dividing the result by the EBIT of the previous year.

    % change in EBIT = (EBITcurrent year – EBITprevious year)/ EBITprevious year* 100%

  3. Finally, the DFL Formula can be calculated by dividing the percentage change in net income (step 1) by the percentage change in EBIT (step 2), as shown above.

    The second formula for the calculation of the degree of financial leverage can be derived by using the following steps:
    Step 1: Firstly, determine the net income from the income statement and then calculate the EBIT of the company by adding back the interest expense and taxes to the net income.

    EBIT = Net income + Interest expense + Taxes

    Step 2: Next, calculate the EBT of the company by deducting the interest expense from the EBIT.

    EBT = EBITInterest expense

    Step 3: Finally, the DFL formula can be calculated by dividing the EBIT of the company (step 1) by the EBT (step 2), as mentioned above.

Examples

Let us see some simple to advanced examples to understand them better.

You can download this Degree of Financial Leverage Formula Excel Template here – Degree of Financial Leverage Formula Excel Template

Example #1

Let us take the example of Company XYZ Ltd, which has clocked a net income of $400,000 in the current year vis-à-vis $300,000 in the previous year. In the current year, the interest expense and taxes of the company stood at $59,000 and $100,000 respectively, while in the previous year, they stood at $40,000 and $90,000 respectively. Determine the DFL for Company XYZ Ltd.

Use the following data to calculate the degree of financial leverage formula.

dfl example 1.1

For the calculation of a degree of financial leverage first, we will calculate the following values,

% Change in Net Income

dfl example 1.2

% Change in Net Income = Change in net income / Net income previous year * 100%

= $100,000 / $300,000 * 100%

= 33.33%

EBIT for Current Year

dfl example 1.3

EBIT current year = Net income current year + Interest expense current year + Taxes current year

= $400,000 + $59,000 + $100,000

= $559,000

EBIT for Previous Year

degree of financial leverage example 1.4

EBIT previous year = Net income previous year + Interest expense previous year + Taxes previous year

= $300,000 + $40,000 + $90,000

= $430,000

% Change in EBIT

degree of financial leverage formula example 1.5

% change in EBIT = Change in EBIT / EBIT previous year * 100%

= $129,000 / $430,000 * 100%

= 30.00%

Now, the calculation of the degree of financial leverage formula is as follows,

dfl example 1.6
  • DFL Formula = % change in net income / % change in EBIT
  • DFL Formula= 33.33% / 30.00%

Degree of Financial Leverage will be –

degree of financial leverage formula example 1.7

DFL = 1.11

Therefore, a 1% change in XYZ Ltd’s leverage will change its operating income by 1.11%.

Example #2

Let us take the example of another Company, ABC Ltd, which has a clocked net income of $200,000 as per the last reported annual result. The interest was charged at 5% on an outstanding debt of $1,000,000, and the taxes paid were $25,000. Determine the DFL for Company ABC Ltd.

Use the following data for the calculation of the degree of financial leverage.

dfl example 2.1

Where Interest expense = Interest rate * Outstanding debt

= 5% * $1,000,000

= $50,000

For the calculation of the degree of financial leverage formula first, we will calculate the following values,

EBIT

degree of financial leverage formula example 2.3

EBIT = Net income + Interest expense + Taxes paid

= $200,000 + $50,000 + $25,000

= $275,000

EBT

dfl example 2.4

EBT = Net income + Interest expense

= $200,000 + $25,000

= $225,000

Now, the calculation of the degree of financial leverage formula is as follows,

dfl example 2.5
  • DFL Formula = EBIT / EBT
  • DFL Formula = $275,000 / $225,000

Degree of Financial Leverage will be –

dfl example 2.6

DFL = 1.22

Therefore, a 1% change in ABC Ltd’s leverage will change its operating income by 1.22%.

Calculator

You can download this Degree of Financial Leverage Calculator.

% Change in Net Income
% Change in EBIT
DFL Formula =
 

DFL Formula =
% Change in Net Income
=
% Change in EBIT
0
= 0
0

Relevance and Uses

It is important to understand the concept of the degree of financial leverage because it indicates the relationship between the capital structure of a company and its operating income. A low ratio is indicative of the low percentage of debt in a company’s capital structure, which again indicates that the sensitivity of the net income to the fluctuation in operating income is low. As such, these companies are more stable. On the other hand, a high ratio indicates a higher percentage of debt in a company’s capital structure. These companies are vulnerable because their net income is more responsive to fluctuations in operating income.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)

What if the degree of financial leverage is negative?

Negative leverage can be obtained if the borrowing costs from a property’s cash flow exceed the return realized. Adding debt may cause the levered return to be below the unleveraged return.

What should be a favorable degree of financial leverage?

The fair degree of financial leverage depends on the industry, the company’s specific circumstances, and the economic environment. However, a reasonable percentage of financial leverage allows a company to achieve its goals while minimizing financial distress and bankruptcy risk.

When does a company increase its degree of financial leverage?

If a company has high financial leverage, its stock price volatility may show its earnings volatility. If a company has a stock price volatility of a high level, it must register a related higher compensation expense along with providing any stock options.

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