Interest coverage ratio

Page written by AI. Reviewed internally on January 31, 2024.


The interest coverage ratio (ICR) is a financial metric used to assess a company’s ability to meet its interest payments on outstanding debt.

What is interest coverage ratio?

The ratio measures the extent to which a company’s operating income can cover its interest expenses. A higher ICR indicates a stronger ability to fulfil interest obligations, which is an important consideration for creditors and investors.

The interest coverage ratio is calculated using the following formula:

Interest coverage ratio = operating income / interest expenses 

A ratio of 1 or lower suggests that a company’s operating income is just enough to cover its interest expenses. This is often seen as a red flag, as it indicates a lower margin of safety for debt servicing. On the other hand, a ratio greater than 1 indicates that a company generates more operating income than is required to cover its interest expenses, which is generally viewed as a positive sign. Be aware that a significantly high ICR can indicate that a company may not be efficiently using its debt to generate returns, as it has an excess capacity to cover interest costs.

For investors, the ICR is an important indicator of a company’s financial stability. A healthy ICR suggests that the company has the capacity to meet its financial obligations, which can enhance investor confidence. 

While the ICR provides valuable information about a company’s debt-servicing capacity, it does not provide a complete picture of its overall financial health. It does not account for other obligations like principal repayments, or consider future investments and capital expenditures.

Example of interest coverage ratio

XYZ Corporation has an operating income of £500,000 and incurs an interest expense of £100,000 during a specific period.

With this information the interest coverage ratio can be calculated as:

Interest coverage ratio = £500,000 / £100,000 = 5

The interest coverage ratio of 5 indicates that XYZ Corporation’s operating income is sufficient to cover its interest expense five times over.

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