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A company's debt, liabilities and risk are very important factors in understanding the company. Having an understanding of a company's debt and liabilities is a key component in understanding the risk of a company, thus aiding in the decision to invest, not to invest, or to stay invested in a company. There are many metrics involved in understanding the debt of a company, but for this article, I will look at Coca-Cola Corporation's (KO) total debt, total liabilities, debt ratios and WACC.

Through the above-mentioned four main metrics, we will understand more about the company's debt, liabilities and risk. If this summary is compared with other companies in the same sector such as Pepsico (PEP), you will be able see which company has the most debt, thus adding to the company's risk.

All material is sourced from Google Finance, Morningstar and the company webpage.

1. Total Debt = Long-Term Debt + Short-Term Debt

Debt is an amount of money borrowed by one party from another, and must be paid back. Total debt is the sum of long-term debt, which is debt that is due in one year or more, and short-term debt, which is any debt that is due within one year.

  • 2007 - $3.277 billion + $6.052 billion = $9.329 billion
  • 2008 - $2.781 billion + $6.531 million = $9.312 billion
  • 2009 - $5.059 billion + $6.800 billion = $11.859 billion
  • 2010 - $14.041 billion + $9.376 billion = $23.417 billion
  • 2011 - $13.656 billion + $14.912 billion = $28.568 billion

Coca-Cola's total debt has increased significantly since 2007. In 2007, the company reported a total debt of $9.329 billion. In 2011, the company's total debt increased to 28.568 billion. Over the past 5 years, Coca-Cola's total debt has increased by 306.22%.

2. Total Liabilities

Liabilities are a company's legal debts or obligations that arise during the course of business operations, so debts are one type of liability, but not all liabilities. Total liabilities is the combination of long-term liabilities, which are the liabilities that are due in one year or more, and short-term or current liabilities, which are any liabilities due within one year.

  • 2007 - $21.525 billion
  • 2008 - $20.047 billion
  • 2009 - $23.872 billion
  • 2010 - $41.918 billion
  • 2011 - $48.339 billion

Coca-Cola's liabilities have also increased over the past 5 years. In 2007, the company reported liabilities at $21.525 billion; in 2011, the company reported liabilities at $48.339 billion. Over the past 5 years, Coca-Cola's liabilities have increased by 224.57%.

In analyzing Coca-Cola's total debt and liabilities, we can see that the company currently has a total debt of $28.568 billion and liabilities at $48.339 billion. Over the past five years, the total debt has increased by 306.22%, while total liabilities have increased by 224.57%. As the company's amount of debt and amount of liabilities have increased over the past 5 years, the next step will reveal if the company has the ability to pay them.

Debt Ratios

3. Total Debt to Total Assets Ratio = Total Debt / Total Assets

This is a metric used to measure a company's financial risk by determining how much of the company's assets have been financed by debt. It is calculated by adding short-term and long-term debt and then dividing by the company's total assets.

A debt ratio of greater than 1 indicates that a company has more total debt than assets; meanwhile, a debt ratio of less than 1 indicates that a company has more assets than total debt. Used along with other measures of financial health, the total- debt-to-total-assets ratio can help investors determine a company's level of risk.

  • 2009 - $11.859 billion / $48.671 billion = 0.24
  • 2010 - $41.918 billion / $72.921 billion = 0.32
  • 2011 - $28.568 billion / $79.974 billion = 0.36

Over the past three years Coca-Cola's total-debt-to-total-assets ratio has increased. This indicates that since 2009 the company has been adding more total debt than assets. As the number is currently below 1 and but increasing, this states that the risk to the company regarding its debt to assets has increased since 2009.

4. Debt ratio = Total Liabilities / Total Assets

Total liabilities divided by total assets. The debt ratio shows the proportion of a company's assets that is financed through debt. If the ratio is less than 0.5, most of the company's assets are financed through equity. If the ratio is greater than 0.5, most of the company's assets are financed through debt. Companies with high debt/asset ratios are said to be "highly leveraged." A company with a high debt ratio or that is "highly leveraged" could be in danger if creditors start to demand repayment of debt.

  • 2009 - $23.872 billion / $48.671 billion = 0.49
  • 2010 - $41.918 billion / $72.921 billion = 0.57
  • 2011 - $48.339 billion / $79.974 billion = 0.60

In looking at Coca-Cola's total liabilities to total assets ratio over the past three years, we can see that the ratio has also increased. As the 2010 and 2011 numbers are just above the 0.50 mark, this indicates that Coca-Cola Company has financed most of the company's assets through debt. As the number has increased compared to 2009, so has the risk to the company.

5. Debt to Equity Ratio = Total Liabilities / Shareholders' Equity

The debt-to-equity ratio is another leverage ratio that compares a company's total liabilities with its total shareholders' equity. This is a measurement of how much suppliers, lenders, creditors and obligators have committed to the company versus what the shareholders have committed.

A high debt-to-equity ratio generally means that a company has been aggressive in financing its growth with debt. This can result in the company reporting volatile earnings. In general, a high debt-to-equity ratio indicates that a company may not be able to generate enough cash to satisfy its debt obligations, and therefore is considered a riskier investment.

  • 2009 - $23.872 billion / $24.799 billion = 0.96
  • 2010 - $41.918 billion / $31.003 billion = 1.35
  • 2011 - $48.339 billion / $31.635 billion = 1.53

Over the past three years, Coca-Cola's debt-to-equity ratio has increased from a low of 0.96 to a high of 1.53. As the ratio is currently above 1, this indicates that suppliers, lenders, creditors and obligators have more invested than shareholders. 1.53 indicates a moderate amount of risk for the company. As the ratio is above 1 and considered moderate, so is the risk for the company.

6. Capitalization Ratio = LT Debt / LT Debt + Shareholders' Equity

(LT Debt = Long-Term Debt)

The capitalization ratio tells the investors about the extent to which the company is using its equity to support its operations and growth. This ratio helps in the assessment of risk. Companies with a high capitalization ratio are considered to be risky because they are at a risk of insolvency if they fail to repay their debt on time. Companies with a high capitalization ratio may also find it difficult to get more loans in the future.

  • 2009 - $5.059 billion / $29.858 billion = 0.17
  • 2010 - $14.041 billion / $45.044 billion = 0.31
  • 2011 - $13.656 billion / $45.291 billion = 0.30

Over the past three years, Coca-Cola's capitalization ratio has increased from 0.17 to 0.30. This implies that the company has had less equity compared with its long-term debt. As this is the case, the company has had less equity to support its operations and add growth through its equity. As the ratio is increasing but still quite low, financially this implies a slight increase of risk to the company.

7. Cash Flow to Total Debt Ratio = Operating Cash Flow / Total Debt

This coverage ratio compares a company's operating cash flow with its total debt. This ratio provides an indication of a company's ability to cover total debt with its yearly cash flow from operations. The higher the percentage ratio, the better the company's ability to carry its total debt. The larger the ratio, the better a company can weather rough economic conditions.

  • 2009 - $8.186 billion / $11.859 billion = 0.69
  • 2010 - $9.532 billion / $23.417 billion = 0.41
  • 2011 - $9.474 billion / $28.568 billion = 0.33

Over the past three years, the cash flow to total debt ratio has been decreasing. As the ratio is below 1, this implies that the company does not have the ability to cover its total debt with its yearly cash flow from operations.

Based on the five debt ratios listed above, we can see the results regarding the company's debt. As the debt and liabilities have increased, the ratios indicate that the company's growth has been slightly slower than the increase in debt and liabilities. The next step will reveal how much the company will pay for the debt incurred.

Cost of Debt

The cost of debt is the effective rate that a company pays on its total debt.

As a company acquires debt through various bonds, loans and other forms of debt, the cost of debt metric is useful, because it gives an idea as to the overall rate being paid by the company to use debt financing.

This measure is also useful because it gives investors an idea as to the riskiness of the company compared with others. The higher the cost of debt the higher the risk.

8. Cost of debt (before tax) = Corporate Bond rate of company's bond rating.

  • S&P rated Coca-Cola's bonds "AA- Outlook Stable"
  • Current 20-year corporate bond Rate of "AA" = 3.49%
  • Current cost of Debt as of December 3rd 2012 = 3.49%

According to the S&P rating guide, the "AA" rating is - "Very strong capacity to meet financial commitments." Coca-Cola has a rating that meets this description.

9. Current tax rate (Income Tax total / Income before Tax)

  • 2007 - $1.892 billion / $7.873 billion = 24.03%
  • 2008 - $1.632 billion / $7.439 billion = 21.94%
  • 2009 - $2.040 billion / $8.946 billion = 22.80%
  • 2010 - $2.384 billion / $14.243 billion = 16.74%
  • 2011 - $2.805 billion / $11.439 billion = 24.52%

5-year average = 22.01%

Over the past five years, Coca-Cola has averaged a tax rate of 22.01%.

10. Cost of Debt (After Tax) = (Cost of debt before tax) (1 - tax rate)

The effective rate that a company pays on its current debt after tax.

  • .0349 x (1 - .2201) = Cost of debt after tax

The cost of debt after tax for Coca-Cola is 2.72%

Cost of equity or R equity = Risk free rate + Beta equity (Average market return - Risk free rate)

The cost of equity is the return a firm theoretically pays to its equity investors, for example, shareholders, to compensate for the risk they undertake by investing in their company.

  • Risk free rate = U.S. 10-year bond = 1.65% (Bloomberg)
  • Average market return 1950 - 2012 = 7%
  • Beta = (Google Finance) Coca-Cola's beta = 0.51

Risk free rate + Beta equity (Average market return - Risk free rate)

  • 1.65 + 0.51 (7-1.65)
  • 1.65 + 0.51 x 5.35
  • 1.65 + 2.73 = 4.38%

Coca-Cola has a cost of equity or R Equity of 4.38%, so investors should expect to get a return of 4.38% per-year average over the long term on their investment to compensate for the risk they undertake by investing in this company.

(Please note that this is the CAPM approach to finding the cost of equity. Inherently, there are some flaws with this approach and that the numbers are very "general." This approach is based off of the S&P average return from 1950 - 2012 at 7%, the U.S. 10-year bond for the risk free rate which is susceptible to daily change and Google finance beta.)

Weighted Average Cost of Capital or WACC

The WACC calculation is a calculation of a company's cost of capital in which each category of capital is equally weighted. All capital sources such as common stock, preferred stock, bonds and all other long-term debt are included in this calculation.

As the WACC of a firm increases, and the beta and rate of return on equity increases, this states a decrease in valuation and a higher risk.

By taking the weighted average, we can see how much interest the company has to pay for every dollar it finances.

For this calculation, you will need to know the following listed below:

Tax Rate = 22.01% (Coca-Cola's five-year average Tax Rate)

Cost of Debt (before tax) or R debt = 3.49%

Cost of Equity or R equity = 4.38%

Debt (Total Liabilities) for 2011 or D = $48.339 billion

Stock Price = $37.91 (December 3rd, 2012)

Outstanding Shares = 4.49 billion

Equity = Stock price x Outstanding Shares or E = $170.216 billion

Debt + Equity or D+E = $218.555 billion

WACC = R = (1 - Tax Rate) x R debt (D/D+E) + R equity (E/D+E)

(1 - Tax Rate) x R debt (D/D+E) + R equity (E/D+E)

(1 - .2201) x .0349 x ($48.339/$218.555) + .0438 ($170.216/$218.555)

.7799 x .0349 x .2218 + .0438 x .7788

.006 + .0341

= 4.01%

Based on the calculations above, we can conclude that Coca-Cola pays 4.01% on every dollar that it finances, or 4.01 cents on every dollar. From this calculation, we understand that on every dollar the company spends on an investment, the company must make $.0401 plus the cost of the investment for the investment to be feasible for the company.

Summary

In analyzing Coca-Cola's total debt and liabilities, we can see that the company currently has a total debt of $28.568 billion and liabilities at $48.339 billion. Over the past five years, the total debt has increased by 306.22%, while total liabilities have increased by 224.57%.

Based on the five debt ratios listed above, we can see the results regarding the company's debt. As the debt and liabilities have increased, the ratios indicate that the company's growth has been slightly slower than the increase in debt and liabilities.

As Coca-Cola's bond rating currently stands at "AA-" this indicates that the company has a "Very strong capacity to meet financial commitments."

The CAPM approach for cost of equity states that shareholders need 7.80% average per year over a long period of time on their equity to make it worthwhile to invest in the company. This calculation is so based on the average market return between 1950 and 2012 at 7%.

The WACC calculation reveals that the company pays 4.01% on every dollar that it finances. As the current WACC of Coca-Cola is currently 4.01% and the beta is below average at 0.51, this implies that the company needs at least 4.01% on future investments and will have below average volatility moving forward.

Based on the calculations above, the company has increased its debt and liabilities but currently has the capacity to make its debt payments and meet its tax obligations.

The analysis of Coca-Cola's debt and liabilities indicates a company with increasing total debt and liabilities. The analysis also reveals that the company growth rate is increasing at a slower rate than the company's debt and liabilities. This indicates a higher amount of risk to the company as three years ago. The Bond rating of "AA- Stable Outlook" by S&P indicates that the company has a "Very strong capacity to meet financial commitments." The WACC reveals that Coca-Cola has the ability to add future investments and assets at relatively low rates. Currently, Coca-Cola has the ability to pay for its debts meet its obligations while adding growth.

All indications above reveal a good company with some questions regarding its debt and growth. If these ratios begin to levels off Coca-Cola would be good value for the money as the CAPM reveals that the investor needs 4.38% return, year over year over the long term to get value on their investment.

To read more on Coca-Cola, read my article:

Coca-Cola: Profitability Analysis

Source: Analyzing Coca-Cola's Debt And Risk