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What is the debt to equity ratio?

The debt to equity ratio or debt-equity ratio is calculated by dividing a corporation's total liabilities by the total amount of stockholders' equity: (Liabilities/Stockholders' Equity):1.

A corporation with $1,200,000 of liabilities and $2,000,000 of stockholders' equity will have a debt to equity ratio of 0.6:1. A corporation with total liabilities of $1,200,000 and stockholders' equity of $400,000 will have a debt to equity ratio of 3:1.

Generally, the higher the ratio of debt to equity, the greater is the risk for the corporation's creditors and its prospective creditors.