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I was looking at Oracle's stock price today here and see this:

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Their liabilities are greater than their assets by $3B. So is Oracle officially a bankrupt company or are these numbers wrong? Can anyone explain it to me?

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    That's not a negative ratio, that's a negative difference. Jan 24, 2023 at 4:50
  • @Acccumulation Their P/B ratio is indeed -55.22 in that chart
    – D Stanley
    Jan 24, 2023 at 15:07

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No, having more debt than assets doesn't necessarily mean you're bankrupt. It's only when you can't make your debt payments that you are considered in default of your debt and need bankruptcy protection.

Oracle, like many other companies, has been buying back lots of stock instead of paying down debt, presumably since debt has been relatively "cheap" for many years. So it's spent cash (lowering assets) without reducing debt, which by definition lowers equity. Whether that level of equity is sustainable is another question, but they have been earning back much of their negative equity over the last few quarters.

P/B ratio is almost meaningless with low levels of equity (and certainly meaningless if it's negative). The price more reflects future cash flow from earnings rather than a positive current value, which is negative bases solely on accounting rules, not future performance.

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