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I am relatively new to investing and would like to look into some of the details of a few companies. As one example, we can use DAL.

To assess the financial future of the company, it would be important to know the exact debt structure. Namely, how much will the company owe in debt payments - including both interest and principal - by a given date. Given that debt is given out at different rates at different times to different investors, it may not be easy to calculate this, but is the information with which this can be calculated publicly available at all?

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Not completely. You can find publicly-issued debt and, if they are public, the last financial statement's numbers for liabilities; however, this may miss any new debt issued or incurred from a bank, payables, and other leases which have changed since the last filing.

This also completely misses any shadow obligations: for example, some firms are required to keep a certain capital base in cash or liquid investments. If a firm falls below that threshold, they may have to sell off units, close some operations, or pay fines.

This is why in credit models of the firm (like the Merton and KMV models) debt may be uncertain or even estimated as effective debt which best explains the pricing throughout the capital structure (bonds, stock, and other debt).

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  • $\begingroup$ Borrowers would file disclosure indicating incurrence of material financial obligation (assuming they're obligated by SEC rule). Although it may not be a clear view in a distress situation or where there is extensive use of off balance sheet arrangements, for the context of OP, debt would be generally visible in filings with supplement from sources like Bloomberg. Debt practitioners regularly do this exercise--this answer points OP toward overcomplicating a relatively simple corporate finance matter. $\endgroup$ – Kch Sep 18 '20 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly. Off-balance sheet is a major concern as is timeliness of information. This is not overcomplicating things unnecessarily: the KMV research papers devote a lot of effort to this very problem because it materially affects the credit risk estimated. $\endgroup$ – kurtosis Sep 18 '20 at 4:34

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