Trading on Equity refers to the practice of using borrowed funds, carrying a fixed charge, to obtain a higher return to the Equity Shareholders.
With a larger proportion of the debt in the financial structure, the earnings, available to the owners would increase more than the proportionately with an increase in the operating profits of the firm.
This is because the debt carries a fixed rate of return and if the firm is able to earn, on the borrowed funds, a rate higher than the fixed charges on loans, the benefit will go the shareholders. This is referred to as “Trading on Equity”
The concept of trading on equity is the financial process of using debt to produce gain for the residual owners or the equity shareholders. The term owes its name also to the fact that the equity supplied by the owners, when the amount of borrowing is relatively large in relation to capital stock, a company is said to be trading on equity, but where borrowing is comparatively small in relation to capital stock, the company is said to be trading on thick equity. Capital gearing ratio can be used to judge as to whether the company is trading on thin or thick equity.