The cost of capital

What is the cost of capital? It is the required rate of return a business must earn on its investments (capital budgeting projects) to maintain the market value of the firm’s shares and to attract funds.

It is a measure used to determine whether or not certain project will decrease or increase the firm’s value in the market place and, consequently, whether or not it should be recommended.

If NPV is more than zero and IRR is greater than the cost of total capital, then a proposed project will increase the market value of the firm and it should be recommended.

If, however, NPV is less than zero and IRR is lower than the cost of all capital, then a proposed project will decrease the market value of the firm and it should not be recommended.

Therefore, if a firm’s risk is assumed to be constant, than any projects with the rate of return higher than the cost of all capital will increase the market value of the firm and any projects with the rate of return below the cost of capital of the enterprise will decrease market value of the firm.

In the discussions that follow we assume that the cost of all capital is measured on the after-tax basis and that a firm’s acceptance of the project does not affect FINANCIAL and BUSINESS RISKS.

FINANCIAL RISK is the chance that a firm will not be able to meet its financial obligations, which can result in bankruptcy. Financial risk is directly affected by a firm’s capital structure (its mix of debt and equity financing). The more debt the firm uses in its capital structure mix, the higher the financial risk.

BUSINESS RISK is the chance that a firm will not be able to cover its operating costs. There are three factors that affect business risk. These are increases in operating leverage, revenue instability and cost instability.

1 – Increase in operating leverage refers to higher use of fixed operating costs.

2 – Increase in revenue instability (or decrease in revenue stability) refers to deterioration of stability of sales of the firm.

3 – Lastly, increase in cost instability (decrease in cost stability) refers to how predictable are costs of the firm, such as labour and raw materials’ costs.

Business risk must be taken as is and the capital structure mix the firm chooses does not influence it.

Firms usually try to maintain an optimal mix of financing (debt and equity) referred to as the target capital structure. Firms have various sources of capital and the cost of capital may be different for each source of financing. When determining the cost of capital, it is helpful to determine an average cost of all sources of capital, which is called the weighted average cost of capital (WACC).

 

Capital Rationing

Many firms operate under capital rationing. Firms ration capital because more often than not firms do not have unlimited funds to invest. Therefore, not all acceptable projects can be actually accepted. This is, of course, contradictory with goal of maximizing shareholders value.

We can formally define the rationing of capital as follows: It is a situation when firms do not accept all acceptable projects due to a limited amount of funds or due to limits imposed on investments. The goal is to select portfolio of projects with the highest net present value.

Under situations involving scarce capital, businesses will select a portfolio of projects with the highest NPV and which does not exceed the allocated budget. There are two commonly used techniques to select projects in these situations, the net present value NPV approach and the internal rate of return (IRR) approach.

The IRR approach graphs return against the total investment on the investment opportunities schedule (IOS) and by drawing the budget constraint shows the group of projects that are acceptable to be invested in. The NPV approach ranks projects by IRR and than generates a portfolio of projects with the highest overall present value.

When selecting projects, the net present value (NPV) approach is preferred because it maximizes shareholders’ returns whereas an internal rate of return (IRR) approach just generates a portfolio of acceptable projects.

 

Annualized Net Present Value (ANPV)

The annualized Net Present Value (ANPV) technique is the best method to use when comparing mutually exclusive projects which have unequal duration. ANPV is the most efficient technique to convert Net Present Values (NPVs) of projects with unequal duration into an ANPV for each specific project, which can then be compared.

To find ANPV, the following calculation must be made:

1 – Find NPVs for each project

2 – Divide the NPV of each project by PVIFAr,n (Present Value Interest Factor for Annuity) at the project’s required cost of capital and number of periods. The amount for PVIFAr,n can be found in financial tables.

3 – The project with the higher Annualized Net Present Value (ANPV) is preferred.

Alternatively, ANPV can be found by using a financial calculator, as shown below:

PV = use NPV

N = Number of periods over the duration of the project (e.g. number of years)

I = required cost of capital (e.g. 10%)

Find PMT = this will be the annualized net present value (ANPV)

Test yourself


ABC Corporation has two mutually exclusive projects A and B that it can invest in. Initial investments investments required for project A and B are $150,000 and $200,000 respectively. The duration of project A is 4 years and of project B is 3 years. Expected annual cash inflows from project A are $40,000 and from project B is $70,000. The terminal cash flows from projects A and B are $21,000 and $34,000 respectively. The cost of capital of ABC Corporation is 9% and both projects have an average risk, which means that alteration for risk adjusted discount rate is not required. The 9% for cost of capital should be used for both projects.

What is the ANPV for projects A and B?

SOLUTION:

By using a financial calculator, we can find the solution to this problem. First we need to establish the net present value (NPVs) for projects A and B.

NET PRESENT VALUE (NPV) FOR PROJECT A:

Clear calculator: second function, “C ALL”

CFo: -150,000

CF1: 40,000

CF2: 40,000

CF3: 40,000

CF4: 61,000 (40,000 + 21,000)

I: 9

Second function, NPV: 5,534.28

NET PRESENT VALUE (NPV) FOR PROJECT B:

Clear calculator: second function, “C ALL”

CFo: -200,000

CF1: 70,000

CF2: 70,000

CF3: 104,000 (70,000 + 34,000)

I: 9

Second function, NPV: 3,444.86

However, because the projects have different duration, we need to convert Net Present Values (NPVs) found above into ANPV for each project.

CONVERTING NPV TO ANPV FOR PROJECT A:

Clear calculator: second function, C ALL

PV: – 5,534.28

N: 4

I: 9

Find PMT: $1,708.26

CONVERTING NPV TO ANPV FOR PROJECT B:

Clear calculator: second function, C ALL

PV: – 3,444.86

N: 3

I: 9

Find PMT: $1,360.91

Since the ANPV of project A ($1,708.26) is higher than that of project B ($1,360.91), project A should be selected.

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