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Tata Capital > Blog > Loan for Business > Interest Coverage Ratio Meaning, Calculation, and More

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Interest Coverage Ratio Meaning, Calculation, and More

Interest Coverage Ratio Meaning, Calculation, and More

Several finance management metrics help businesses gauge their financial health. One such metric is the Interest Coverage Ratio (ICR). The ICR measures a company's ability to pay the interest on its outstanding debt, a key indicator of financial stability and risk.

It is a crucial metric for both investors and creditors, helping them make informed decisions about investments, lending, and the overall financial strategy of a business. In this article, we will unravel the meaning of ICR and explain everything you need to know about this financial metric.

What is the interest coverage ratio?

The Interest Coverage Ratio (ICR) is a financial metric used to determine a company's ability to pay the interest on its outstanding debt. It indicates its financial health, specifically in terms of its debt service coverage. 

A higher ICR suggests the business is more capable of meeting its interest obligations from its operating income, indicating good financial health. On the other hand, a lower ICR indicates potential financial distress, as it suggests that a company may struggle to cover its interest payments.

The ICR is particularly important for lenders and investors as it provides a snapshot of the company's short-term financial health and its ability to meet debt obligations. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to maintain a healthy ICR to build trust and credibility in the market, especially when seeking new loans or attracting investments.

Calculation of interest coverage ratio

Calculating ICR is a straightforward process. The interest coverage ratio formula is:

ICR = Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) / Interest expense


-EBIT is the company’s net income before deducting interest and income taxes. It can usually be found on the company’s income statement.

-Interest expense is the total interest payable on any borrowings, such as bonds, loans, or lines of credit.

Let us understand this with an example.

Suppose company X has an EBIT of Rs. 50 lakhs for the financial year and its interest expense for the same year is Rs. 10 lakhs. Now, the interest coverage ratio will be calculated as follows:

ICR = 50 lakhs / 10 lakhs = 5

How to interpret interest coverage ratio

Interest Coverage Ratio (ICR)Interpretation
1 or lessThe company may struggle to cover interest expenses and might become a defaulter.
1.5 to 2The company has enough funds to meet its interest obligations.
2 or moreThe company has strong financial health and can cover interest expenses comfortably.

In the above example, the ICR of company X was 5. This means it earns five times more than its interest obligations, indicating a sound financial position and lower risk for lenders and investors. 

Types of interest coverage ratios

Besides EBIT, you can calculate ICR using different ways such as:

1. EBITDA interest coverage ratio

This ratio is more lenient than EBIT as EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) adds back depreciation and amortization expenses, providing a broader view of the company's operating cash flow available to pay interest expenses.

2. Fixed charge coverage ratio (FCCR)

This financial health ratio measures the company's ability to meet all its short-term financial obligations, including expenses like lease payments.

3. EBITDA less capex interest coverage ratio

This ratio measures the number of times a company's EBITDA can be used for interest expense after deducting the capex.

4. EBIAT interest coverage ratio

You can also calculate ICR using a company's EBIAT (earning before interest after taxes). It helps determine how much of the company's post-tax earnings is available to cover interest expenses.

Importance of ICR in business

The interest coverage ratio plays a pivotal role in shaping business strategies and decisions. Here’s why the ICR is so important in the business context:

1. Assessing financial health

ICR is a primary indicator of a company's financial health, specifically its ability to manage and pay off debts. A healthy ICR suggests that a company is generating sufficient profits to cover its interest expenses, indicating good financial stability.

2. Attracting investors and creditors

Investors and creditors assess the ICR before making investment or lending decisions. A strong ICR is often synonymous with lower financial risk, making a company more attractive to investors and lenders.

3. Negotiating better loan terms

Companies with a high ICR are typically in a better position to negotiate favourable loan terms, such as lower interest rates or more flexible repayment schedules. This can result in significant cost savings and more favourable financial arrangements.

4. Risk management

Monitoring the ICR regularly helps businesses manage risk. It alerts them to potential financial difficulties, allowing them to take proactive steps to improve their financial situation, such as adjusting their debt levels or improving operational efficiency.

5. Building credibility

Consistently maintaining a healthy ICR can build a company’s credibility in the market. It reassures stakeholders of the company’s financial health and long-term sustainability.

Limitations of the interest coverage ratio

While the interest coverage ratio is a valuable tool in financial analysis, it comes with several limitations. Understanding these constraints can prevent an over-reliance on ICR and help you make informed business or investment decisions. Here are some key limitations of ICR:

-ICR is based on earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT), which can fluctuate significantly from year to year. This variability can lead to misleading ICR readings, as it may not accurately reflect a company's long-term ability to cover interest expenses.

-The ICR focuses solely on interest expenses and does not consider the principal amount of debt that must be repaid. For companies with significant debt obligations, the ability to pay the principal is as crucial as paying the interest.

-EBIT can be subject to accounting manipulations, and as such, the ICR can be artificially inflated or deflated, giving a skewed view of a company's financial health.

-The ICR can vary greatly across different industries, making it less useful for cross-industry comparisons. 

Therefore, besides ICR, it's important to evaluate a company based on other ratios like the current ratio, debt-to-equity ratio, quick ratio, etc.

Over to you

While ICR is a valuable tool for analyzing a company's ability to manage debt, it should be part of a broader financial assessment. This will help you gauge the company's financial health effectively and make informed investment decisions. 

For businesses, particularly those seeking growth or stability, navigating the complexities of financial metrics can be challenging. This is where Tata Capital steps in, offering tailored business loan solutions that align with your company's unique financial needs. With competitive business loan interest rates and minimal business loan documents required, Tata Capital makes financing simpler and more accessible. 

Take the first step towards securing your business's future today with Tata Capital’s comprehensive business loan solutions. Visit our website to calculate your potential EMIs with our user-friendly business loan EMI calculator.

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