Asset Coverage Ratio
Asset coverage ratio measures the ability of a company to cover its debt obligations with its assets. The ratio tells how much of the assets of a company will be required to cover its outstanding debts. The asset coverage ratio gives a snapshot of the financial position of a company by measuring its tangible and monetary assets against its financial obligations. This ratio allows the investors to reasonably predict the future earnings of the company and to asses the risk of insolvency.
Usually a minimum level of asset coverage ratio is defined in the covenants so that a company does not overextend its debts beyond a certain limit. The company would not be tempted to take too much loans; therefore chances of its insolvency are less. As a rule of thumb, industrial and publicly held companies should maintain an asset coverage ratio of 2 and utilities companies should maintain an asset coverage ratio of 1.5.
The asset coverage ratio is calculated in three steps:
- Step 1: The current liabilities are added up and short term debt obligations are subtracted from this sum.
- Step 2: The book value of tangible and monetary assets of a company is calculated by subtracting the value of intangible assets (such as goodwill) from the book value of total assets. The figure calculated in Step 1 is subtracted from this figure.
- Step 3: The resulting figure of Step 2 is divided by the total outstanding debt of the company.
All of these three steps can be expressed in the following formula for asset coverage ratio.
Asset Coverage Ratio = ((Total Assets – Intangible Assets) – (Current Liabilities – Short-term Debt)) / Total Debt Obligations
Norms and Limits
Asset coverage ratio should be used in conjunction with other financial ratios to have clearer picture of the company’s financial strengths and weaknesses. A negative point of asset coverage ratio is that it uses the book value of the assets. The book value may vary significantly from the actual liquidation value of the asset. In such a case the asset coverage ratio will give misleading results.