Interest Service Coverage Ratio

What is Interest Service Coverage Ratio?

Interest Service Coverage Ratio (ISCR) essentially calculates the capacity of a borrower to repay the interest on borrowings. One can also call it as Interest Coverage Ratio. ISCR less than 1 suggests the inability of the firm’s profits to serve its interest payments due on debts and obviously the principle amount of debts. ISCR is a tool for financial institutions to judge the capacity of a borrower to repay the interest on the loan.

Interest Coverage Ratio (ICR) is one of the leverage/coverage ratios which is calculated in order to know the availability of cash profit to repay the interest on debts. Generally, ICR is determined when a firm/business borrows a loan from a bank/financial institution or any other loan provider.

This ratio explains the ability of cash profits to meet the interest payment of the loan. It is an important ratio for the financial analysis of a business or firm especially from the viewpoint of a lender. This is because the ratio indicates the repayment capacity of borrowers to repay interest.

To have some concrete results, one needs to calculate this ratio for the entire period of a loan. It is quite obvious that the calculation of this ratio depends on the forecasted financial figures. It is evident in the moratorium period which is the initial period in which cash inflows are sufficient. Even a very good borrower with great credibility will also not be able to service the interest as well as the principal amount in that period.

Interest Service Coverage Ratio /Times Interest Earned

How to Calculate Interest Coverage Ratio?

There is a simple calculation of the formula. We require the following items from the financial statements:

  • Profit before interest and tax (PBIT)
  • Noncash expenses (e.g. Depreciation, Miscellaneous expenses are written off etc.)
  • Interest for the current year

Sometimes, these figures are readily available but at times, one has to determine them using the company’s financial statements.

ISCR Formula

The formula for Interest Service Coverage Ratio is as follows:

  PBIT + Non-Cash Expenses
Interest Service Coverage Ratio (ISCR)=————————-
Interest Service Coverage Ratio (Times Interest Earned Ratio)

Profit Before Interest and Taxes (PBIT)

PBIT is easily available in the Profit and loss account. Just find out the PAT which is readily available on the face of the profit and loss statement. From the PAT, deduct the income tax and interest and the result is PBIT.


It is the amount that is paid or payable on the loan for the financial year.

Non-cash Expenses

Non-cash expenses are those expenses that we charge to the profit and loss account. Also, we have already paid for these expenses in the past years. Following are the non-cash expenses:

  • Writing off of preliminary expenses, pre-operative expenses etc,
  • Depreciation on the fixed assets,
  • Amortization of the intangible assets like goodwill, trademark, patent, copyright etc,
  • Provisions for doubtful debts,
  • Deferment of expenses like an advertisement, promotion etc.

Note: Most resources like books, websites, etc have not added non-cash expenses in the numerator of the formula. We have added it with a belief that interest payment can be done from cash not profits. Hence, non-cash expenses like depreciation do not reduce the cash balance.
Note: In the same way, to make the formula more cash logic-driven, we can reduce the taxes from the numerator. It is because a firm would not have a choice of making tax payments, they are mandatory payments in cash.

You may like using our Interest Service Coverage Ratio Calculator for easily calculating the ratio.

ISCR Example

EXAMPLE – Interest Service Coverage Ratio 
Income Statement for Company A
Sales Revenue  1,800,000.00
Cost of Goods Sold    (600,000.00)
Gross Profit  1,200,000.00
Total Expenses  
Salaries    (120,000.00)
Rent    (240,000.00)
Utilities    (100,000.00)
Bad Debts    (100,000.00)
Depreciation    (150,000.00)
Operating Profit (EBIT)     490,000.00
Interest Expense    (200,000.00)
Earnings Before Taxes (EBT)     290,000.00
Taxes40%   (116,000.00)
Net Income     174,000.00


Interest Coverage Ratio 2.45x
(Added Non-Cash Expenses)3.70x
(Deducted Taxes)3.12x

Interpretation of Interest Service Coverage Ratio

Calculation of ISCR is a child’s play but it makes sense only when it is interpreted in the right sense. The result of an interest service coverage ratio is an absolute figure. Higher this figure better is the interest serving capacity. If the ratio is less than 1, it is considered bad because it simply indicates that the profits of the firm are not sufficient to service its interest obligations leave apart the debt obligations.

As per industry norms, the ratio should never be less than 2.5 as it is an absolute danger signal. The ratio is most utilized by lenders such as banks, financial institutions, etc. Broadly there are two objectives of any lender behind extending a loan to a business which are earning interest and securing the principle too.

Let’s take an example where the ISCR is coming to be less than 2.5, which directly indicates negative views about the capacity of a firm to repay the interest. Does this mean that the bank should not extend a loan? No, absolutely not. It is because the bank will analyze the profit-generating capacity and business idea as a whole and if the business is strong in both of them; the ISCR can be improved by increasing the term of the loan and providing the moratorium period in which no payments are due for the borrower.

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Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".

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