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Leverage: Understanding the utilisation of leverage

[] Leverage or financial leverage is an effective tool used by companies to raise capital. Here’s all you need to know.

What is the meaning of leverage?

Leverage is a financial term involving borrowing funds to buy things, anticipating that future profits will cover the cost of borrowing. The money is borrowed to maximise the returns of an investment, acquire additional assets or raise funds for the company. When a company or an individual business is termed as highly leveraged, it means the debt on them is more than the equity. The leverage helps the investors in making the right decisions before investing in any property, firm, or company.

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Situations that require leverage

  1. Securities like options and the future require leverage to bet on the share market.
  2. Equity owners of businesses leverage their investment by borrowing a portion of its required financing.
  3. Businesses leverage their operations by using fixed cost inputs when revenue is expected to be variable.
  4. Hedge funds may leverage their assets by funding a portfolio with the cash proceeds from shorting the financial position.

Risk of leveraging

  • While leveraging magnifies profits on return, it can also magnify losses.
  • An investor who buys stock on a 50% margin will lose 40% if the stock declines 20% and will be unable to refund the incurred significant total loss.
  • If a company borrows money to modernise, like adding a product line or expanding internationally, the extra trading profit from the additional diversification might more than offset the additional risk from leverage.

Advantages of leverage

A powerful tool to raise capital

Financial leverage multiplies the power of every rupee you put to work. If you successfully, leveraged finance can accomplish much more than you could possibly achieve without the insertion of leverage.

Ideal for acquisition and buyout

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Leverage is best suited for a brief period where your business has a specific growth objective, such as conducting an acquisition, management buyout, share buyback, or a one-line dividend.

Disadvantages of leverage

Risky form of finance

Leverage is a powerful tool, but a higher-than-normal debt level can put a business into a state of leverage that is high, which magnifies risk exposure.

More costly

Leverage loans come with higher interest rates due to the risk.


The financial instruments involved, such as subordinated mezzanine debt, are more complex. This complexity needs additional management time and involves various risks.

What is the difference between leverage and margin?

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While these terms are similar, they are not the same in the financial ecosphere. A margin refers to the amount of money required to open a position that depends on the margin rates. However, leverage is a debt calculation to get higher returns and account for equities for your business or companies.

Margin involves using existing cash or securities positions as collateral to increase the company’s buying power. The margin allows you to borrow money at a fixed interest rate to purchase positions, securities, and futures contracts in an attempt to gain maximum profits. Margin can be used to create leverage to increase your buying power by a marginal amount.

Questions to consider to make sound leverage decisions

It is essential for any business to consider these questions before making a decision:

  1. Do you have a temporary financial need, or are you facing a temporary situation, such as a buyout or an acquisition, in which you need a usually large amount briefly?
  2. Are you comfortable with the increasing cost, complexity, and risk of this form of financing?

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Category: Must Knows

Debora Berti

Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

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