Shares of FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) rose by 1.80% in the past three months. Before having a look at the importance of debt, let us look at how much debt FirstEnergy has.
According to the FirstEnergy’s most recent balance sheet as reported on April 22, 2021, total debt is at $24.48 billion, with $22.20 billion in long-term debt and $2.28 billion in current debt. Adjusting for $1.28 billion in cash-equivalents, the company has a net debt of $23.20 billion.
Let’s define some of the terms we used in the paragraph above. Current debt is the portion of a company’s debt which is due within 1 year, while long-term debt is the portion due in more than 1 year. Cash equivalents include cash and any liquid securities with maturity periods of 90 days or less. Total debt equals current debt plus long-term debt minus cash equivalents.
To understand the degree of financial leverage a company has, investors look at the debt ratio. Considering FirstEnergy’s $44.12 billion in total assets, the debt-ratio is at 0.55. Generally speaking, a debt-ratio more than one means that a large portion of debt is funded by assets. As the debt-ratio increases, so the does the risk of defaulting on loans, if interest rates were to increase. Different industries have different thresholds of tolerance for debt-ratios. A debt ratio of 40% might be higher for one industry and average for another.
Importance Of Debt
Debt is an important factor in the capital structure of a company, and can help it attain growth. Debt usually has a relatively lower financing cost than equity, which makes it an attractive option for executives.
However, due to interest-payment obligations, cash-flow of a company can be impacted. Having financial leverage also allows companies to use additional capital for business operations, allowing equity owners to retain excess profit, generated by the debt capital.
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