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What is the interest coverage ratio?

Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of Interest Coverage Ratio

The interest coverage ratio is a financial ratio used as an indicator of a company’s ability to pay the interest on its debt. (The required principal payments are not included in the calculation.) The interest coverage ratio is also known as the times interest earned ratio.

The interest coverage ratio is computed by dividing 1) a corporation’s annual income before interest and income tax expenses, by 2) its annual interest expense.

A large interest coverage ratio indicates that a corporation will be able to pay the interest on its debt even if its earnings were to decrease. A small interest coverage ratio sends a caution signal.

Example of Interest Coverage Ratio

Assume a corporation’s most recent annual income statement reported the following:

  • Net income after tax of $650,000
  • Interest expense of $150,000
  • Income tax expense of $100,000

Based on the above amounts, the corporation’s annual income before interest and income tax expenses is $900,000 (net income of $650,000 + interest expense of $150,000 + income tax expense of $100,000). Therefore, corporation’s interest coverage ratio is 6 or 6 times ($900,000 divided by the interest expense of $150,000).

Since the interest coverage ratio is based on the net income under the accrual method of accounting, we recommend that you also review the corporation’s cash provided by operating activities (which is found on its statement of cash flows) for the same time period.

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About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has
worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on

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