DSCR (Debt Service Coverage Ratio)

What is the Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR)?

Debt service coverage (DSCR) is the ratio between Net Operating Income and Total Debt Service and helps in determining whether the company is capable of covering its debt obligations with the net income it generates. It is an important metric used during commercial real estate lending that helps the analyst in calculating the amount loanable to the company.

It can be expressed mathematically as follows:

DSCR = Net Operating Income/Total Debt Service

DSCR Formula

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This ratio gives an idea of whether the company is capable of covering its debt-related obligations with the net operating income it generates. If this ratio is less than one, it means that the net operating incomeNet Operating IncomeNet Operating Income (NOI) is a measure of profitability representing the amount earned from its core operations by deducting operating expenses from operating revenue. It excludes non-operating costs such as loss on sale of a capital asset, interest, tax expenses.read more generated by the company is not enough to cover all the debt-related obligations of the company. On the other hand, if this ratio is more than one for a company, it means that the company is generating enough operating income to cover all its debt-related obligations.

DSCR Importance

Calculating Net Operating Income

Debt Service Coverage Ratio is a ratio of two values: Net Operating Income and Total Debt Service.

Operating Income is defined as earnings before interest and taxEarnings Before Interest And TaxEarnings before interest and tax (EBIT) refers to the company's operating profit that is acquired after deducting all the expenses except the interest and tax expenses from the revenue. It denotes the organization's profit from business operations while excluding all taxes and costs of capital.read more (EBIT). However, for this purpose, the Net Operating Income is taken as the Earnings Before Interest, Tax, DepreciationDepreciationDepreciation is a systematic allocation method used to account for the costs of any physical or tangible asset throughout its useful life. Its value indicates how much of an asset’s worth has been utilized. Depreciation enables companies to generate revenue from their assets while only charging a fraction of the cost of the asset in use each year. read more, and Amortization (EBITDA). Hence, the formula for calculating the Net Operating Income will be as follows:

Net Operating Income = Net Income + Interest + Non cash Expense + Tax

The tax amount is added back to the net income while calculating the net operating income because interest payment comes prior to tax payers for the company (even on the income statement). So, the cash in hand before interest payment will first be used to pay the interest and then only to pay the tax.

And depreciation and amortization are non-cash expenses. So they don’t imply any cash outflow, which means that much cash is still in the hands of the company to service its debt obligations. That is why that entire amount is added back to the net income while calculating the net operating income.

Calculation of Total Debt Service

Now, something more complicated to calculate is the denominator of the Debt Service Coverage Ratio ratio i.e., the Total Debt Service. For calculating the value of this term, you got to take into account both the interesting part as well as the principal part of the debt to be serviced.

Total Debt Service = Interest + Principal Repayments + Lease Payments

Note that in addition to the principal, there could be other obligations, too, like Lease Payments and the Current Portion of Long Term Debt.

Let us now take a very basic example on DSCR Calculations.

DSCR Ratio Examples

Example 1 

Suppose a company by the name of ABC Ltd. has the following financial figures for a particular period under consideration:

  • Net Income=$ 490 million,
  • Interest Expense =$ 50 million,
  • Non-cash Expenses=$ 40 million,
  • Tax rate=30 %,
  • Principal Repayments = $ 20 million.
  • Lease Repayments = $5 million

Calculate DSCR?

Let us first calculate the Net Operating Income.

Net Operating Income = Net Income + Interest + Non cash Expense + Tax

Tax = $ 490 million x (30 %/70%) =$ 210 million.

Net Operating Income = $ 490 million + $ 50 million + $ 40 million + $ 210 million = $ 790 million

Total Debt Service = Interest + Principal + Lease Payments

Total Debt Service = 50 + $20 + $5  = $ 75 million

DSCR = Net Operating Income/Total Debt Service = $ 790 million/$ 75 million = 10.53x

This DSCR Ratio is greater than 1. Hence, the company ABC has 10.53 times the cash it required to service all its debt obligations for the period under consideration.

Now that you are well versed with the basic DSCR Calculations let us now make some tweaks in the above formula to correctly calculate DSCR.

Example 2

Let us again take the above example and let me modify this a bit.

  • Net Income=$ 490 million,
  • Interest Expense =$ 50 million,
  • Non-cash Expenses=$ 40 million,
  • Tax rate=30 %,
  • Principal Repayments = $ 200 million.
  • Lease payments = $5 million

Calculate DSCR?

What’s the difference between this example and the earlier one that we considered.

In this example, we note that principal repayments are $200 million and Lease payments of $5 million = $205 million.

The important point to note here is that the sum total of Principal Repayment and Lease payments ($200 + $5 = $205) is more than Non-Cash Expenses of $40 million.

Now just pause for a moment. Think! I mean, really THINK!

In the first example, the Non-cash expense of $40 million was enough to take care of obligations, including Principal repayment of $20 million and Lease Payments of $5 million. But NOT in the second example.

The non-cash expense only covers $40 million of the $205 required.

How will the company pay the remaining $205 – $40 = $165 million? Where will the $165 million come from?

The company should have cash of $165 million in its balance sheet to ensure such payments. Obviously, the company needs to earn post-tax cash of $165 million. 

Keyword – Post-tax cash of $165 million.

Now, look at the DSCR formula again,

DSCR Formula = Net Operating Income/Total Debt Service

The numerator i.e., Net Operating income, is a “Pre-tax number”.

In order to make the formula fully correct, we need the denominator to be also a pre-tax level.

It is important to realize that unlike the interest the balance portion of principal and lease, repayments 5 million is paid out of the cash remaining on the company’s balance sheet after the deduction of tax.

For calculating the pre-tax number, we need to divide the balance amount of $165 million by (1-tax rate).

In example 2, the balance required is $165 million,

Pre-tax requirement = $165 / (1-.3) = 235.71 million.

With this above pre-tax requirement, we can now correctly calculate DSCR.

Net Operating Income = Net Income + Interest + Non cash Expense + Tax

Tax = $ 490 million x (30 %/70%) =$ 210 million.

Net Operating Income = $ 490 million + $ 50 million + $ 40 million + $ 210 million = $ 790 million

Please note that now there is a change in the Total Debt Service Formula. 

Total Debt Service = $50 + $235.71 (calculated above)

Total Debt Service = 285.71

This method of recalculating the Total Debt Service is called as “Pre tax provision Method.”

DSCR Formula = Net Operating Income/Total Debt Service

= $790 / $285.71 = 2.76x.

Considering only the Total Debt Service will be meaningless because the tax is a reality that every company has to face. So the amount calculated by considering the tax deduction as explained above is a more appropriate representative of the Total Debt Service that a company needs to cover by using the EBITDAEBITDAEBITDA refers to earnings of the business before deducting interest expense, tax expense, depreciation and amortization expenses, and is used to see the actual business earnings and performance-based only from the core operations of the business, as well as to compare the business's performance with that of its competitors.read more it generates.

DSCR Ratio for analyzing the debt position

Calculate Debt Service Coverage Ratio of Seadrill Ltd

Take, for example, the debt situation of the offshore drilling services provider, Seadrill Ltd. It is facing huge problems this year due to the piling debt and dwindling margins due to persistently low oil prices. The company has reported the following financial numbers in the three quarters mentioned in the table below:

Items ($ millions)DescriptionQ2 2016Q1 2016Q2 2015
Depreciation and AmortizationaNon-Cash Expenses193200192
EBITDAbOperating Income557528615
Interest ExpensecInterest105102100
Current Portion of Long Term DebtdPost-Tax Obligations234712781662
Tax RatetTax Rate27.80%27.80%10.60%

The above table shows the company’s financial numbers for Q2 2015, Q1 2015, and Q2 2016. Depreciation and amortization comprise the non-cash expenses, and the current portion of long-term debtCurrent Portion Of Long-term DebtCurrent Portion of Long-Term Debt (CPLTD) is payable within the next year from the date of the balance sheet, and are separated from the long-term debt as they are to be paid within next year using the company’s cash flows or by utilizing its current assets.read more comprises the post-tax obligations. The “total debt service” can be calculated as the sum of interest expense and the current portion of long-term debt. But that is not what we need to calculate while calculating an appropriate DSCR Ratio.

What is required to be used as the denominator of the ratio is the “Minimum debt service requirement,” i.e., that minimum pre-tax amount that is required to fulfill all the debt obligations (pre-tax plus post-tax).

Now, since the post-tax obligations are greater than the non-cash expenses, the formula used to calculate the minimum debt service required is the one written in the “Description” column against item “e” in the table above. The formula to be used is [c+a+(d-a)/(1-t)].

Seadrill calculation - 2Once this value is calculated, the Debt Service Coverage Ratio has been calculated by dividing the EBITDA by this value of minimum debt service requirement. The value of DSCR is much-much less than 1.0. It is expected, given the type of the industry Seadrill operates in.

Seadrill calculation - 3

However, look at the drastic drop (31.8 % to 17.0 %) in the DSCR of the company from the second quarter of 2015 to the second quarter of 2016. In fact, the drop is steeper (29.4 % to 17.0 %) over the last two sequential quarters (Q1 2016 to Q2 2016). This drastic decline in DSCR is giving a very tough time to Seadrill these days.

Seadrill calculation - 4

How banks use DSCR to lend money?

  • As noted from the above example of Seadrill Ltd, whenever a bank has to analyze whether to lend money to such companies, it won’t ask for a DSCR of 1.0 or more.
  • It would rather see the industry norm for the ratio and then decide upon the case of the company. In addition to this, the bank would also study the historical trend of the company’s debt serving capacity and future aspects.
  • After that, if it finds the future aspects promising enough, it can agree to lend more to the company.
  • Also, extending the loan term or the maturity date can also improve the DSCR because, by doing so, the denominator i.e., the debt required to be served within a particular period, gets reduced!
  • On the other hand, if the bank finds out that the company does not have an alright debt service history or even that the company is quite new to taking debt, it will require a much higher value of the Debt Service Coverage Ratio. It is because there is a greater risk in lending to such ill-experienced or inexperienced companies.


We note in this article that Debt Service Coverage Ratio is one of the most important ratios tracked by banks, financial institutions, and lenders. This ratio gives an idea of whether the company is capable of covering its debt-related obligations with the net operating income it generates. If the DSCR ratio is less than 1.0x, then it cast doubts on the debt repaying capabilities of the company. Also, note the correct usage of the DSCR formulaDSCR FormulaThe DSCR (Debt service coverage ratio) formula, which is computed as the ratio of Net Operating Income to Total Debt Service, gives an intuitive picture of the company's debt repayment capabilities. DSCR Formula = Net Operating Income / Total Debt service read more using the Pre-tax provision method.

If the amount of the post-tax obligations is less than the non-cash expenses then, We do not need to do any adjustments in the Total Debt Service (example 1).

Total Debt Service = Interest + Principal Repayments + Lease Payments 

But if post-tax obligation exceeds the non-cash expenses, then the non-cash expense can only partly be covered, and the company needs to save enough cash before tax for covering the remaining part after deducting the tax. (example 2).

Total Debt Service = Interest + Non Cash ExpenseNon Cash ExpenseNon-cash expenses are those expenses recorded in the firm's income statement for the period under consideration; such costs are not paid or dealt with in cash by the firm. It involves expenses such as depreciation.read more + (Principal Repayment + Lease Repayment – Non Cash Expense) / (1-tax rate).

So, whatever be the situation, out of the two mentioned above, the amount calculated by the above formulas will give you the amount of cash required to cover the Total Debt Service.

DSCR Video

Reader Interactions


  1. Syed Zafarul Hasan says

    Found very informative and practical.