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).

 

Initial investment in capital budgeting decisions

Within context of capital budgeting decisions, initial investment refers to the cash outflow at the beginning of the project and is calculated by taking the total cost of the new asset (cost plus all expenses required to make asset operational), less after-tax proceeds from sale of the old assets and further adding or subtracting change in the net working capital, as shown below.

Initial investment (Initial cash outflow) determined as follows:

Total cost of the new asset (cost plus installation)

Less: After-tax proceeds from sale of the old asset (proceeds from sale of the old asset less cost of removing asset less tax on sale of the old assets.

Less or Add: Change in net working capital

Tax on the sale of the old asset is only paid if the asset sold for more than asset’s book value. Book value of an asset refers to the total cost of the asset (cost of the asset at the time it was purchased + installation cost) less accumulated depreciation.

Accumulated depreciation refers to the collective depreciation of an asset up to a point under consideration. For example, if asset were bought exactly 5 years ago, than accumulated depreciation will include sum of individual depreciation amounts for each of the five years.

If the asset sold for more than its book value than any value above original total cost of asset referred to as capital gain and any value above book value and up to original total cost of asset referred to as recaptured depreciation.

If asset is sold for less than book value than tax credit is generated, provided the country specific legal requirements for such tax credit to be effective are met.

As stated above, an initial investment is affected by the change in net working capital. This occurs because organization’s working capital requirements will change if project will be undertaken and it should be incorporated into calculations. A change in net working capital is calculated as change in current assets (e.g. accounts receivable and inventories) less change in current liabilities (e.g. accounts payable and accruals).

If net working capital increased (increase in current assets larger than increase in current liabilities) than we treat it as cash outflow and add it to the initial investment amount in calculation of the initial cash out flow. This is because the company’s investment in current assets increased due to the new project being undertaken. Therefore, it is an additional cash outflow.

If, however, an increase in current liabilities was higher than increase in current assets (if net working capital decreased) than we subtract this change in net working capital from the initial investment amount in calculating initial investment (outflow at time zero).

Commonly, there is an increase in net working capital (cash outflow) at the beginning of the project life. Such cash outflow is recovered at the end of the project when the terminal cash flow is calculated.

When determining cash flows we also need to consider opportunity and sunk costs.

Opportunity costs


Opportunity costs refer to the cash inflows that could have been earned in case of alternative employment of the asset. Therefore, it should be taken into consideration when determining cash flows.

For example, if success of the proposed project requires use of the equipment which organization already owns, the usage of equipment should be considered as a cost as if it would have to be bought or rented. Moreover, if such equipment could generate higher cash inflows in alternative use than this also should be incorporated.

Sunk costs


Sunk costs refer to the costs associated with the asset which is already was incurred in the past and cannot be recovered in spite of whether the particular project is undertaken or not.

An example of sunk costs is the feasibility study cost or marketing expenses which were already incurred for the project. In other words, any past costs that were incurred are not pertinent. Since sunk cost cannot be recovered – it should not affect decision regarding whether proposed project should be undertaken. In other words, sunk costs are not taken into account when cash flows for the potential project are calculated.

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An understanding of how the initial investment is calculated is an important first step in understanding how to properly make capital budgeting decisions. Make sure you gained a good understanding of concepts discussed above before moving on to further sub-sections on capital budgeting decisions.

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Capital Budgeting Techniques

The Capital budgeting techniques discussed here focus on financial considerations, although, there are financial and non-financial considerations that should be taken into account when selecting a project for capital expenditure.

There are unsophisticated (simple) and sophisticated (advanced) techniques.

1 – Unsophisticated techniques include payback period (PB, also called payback method) and average rate of return(ARR).

2 – Sophisticated techniques include net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), equivalent annual annuity (AEE) and profitability index (PI).

Out of this range of techniques, payback period is the most popular unsophisticated technique. From the sophisticated techniques, the most popular methods are net present value (NPV) and internal rate of return (IRR).

Capital budgeting techniques used to select most profitable projects for capital expenditure, which is aligned with enterprise’s objective of maximizing shareholder’s wealth. Sophisticated techniques are considered to be the most effective means of selecting the most appropriate projects for capital expenditures. Such techniques take into account risk, the time value of money and focus on cash flows rather than on accounting profits.

The result of educated usage of capital budgeting techniques knowledge generated on which projects and in which order should be accepted based on the available funds for investment.

Fixed Payment Coverage Ratio

The fixed payment coverage ratio measures the ability of the enterprise to meet all of its fixed-payment obligations on time. In other words, the fixed payment coverage ratio measures the ability to service debts.

As outsiders, when analyzing the capital structure decisions of firms, we can use the fixed payment coverage ratio as an indirect measure of the level of debt in the firm’s capital structure. Commonly, the lower the ratio the higher the degree of financial leverage (amount of debt) in the capital structure of the enterprise and the higher the risk.

The formula for the fixed payment coverage ratio is as follows:

Fixed Payment Coverage Ratio = EBIT+LP/I+LP +((PP +PSD)*(1/1-T))

Where:

EBIT = earnings before interest and tax (operating profit)

LP = lease payments

I = interest charges

PP = principal payments

PSD = preferred stock dividends

T = tax rate

Test yourself


Assume ABC Company has an operating profit of $550,000 and interest charges of $100,000. The lease payments are fixed at $20,000, principal payments are at $60,000 and preferred stock dividends are at $15,000. The corporate tax rate of ABC is 40%.

The fixed payment coverage ratio of ABC is calculated as follows:

= 550,000+20,000/100,000+20,000+((60,000+15,000)*(1/1-T))

= 570,000/120,000+((75,000)*1.67)

= 570,000/120,000+125,250

= 570,000/245,250

= 2.3

The fixed payment coverage ratio of ABC is 2.3. Since EBIT is more than two times larger than fixed-payment obligations, it appears that ABC is in a strong position to live up to its fixed-payment obligations as they come due. However, as with all financial ratios, the ratio should be compared to the industry average before any conclusions are drawn.

Note the following


Generally, the higher the ratio the lower the risk that  enterprise will not be able to meet its fixed-payment obligations on time. Therefore, generally, a higher ratio is better. However, as with times interest earned ratio, cognizance needs to be taken of the fact that the higher the ratio the lower the risk and lower the return.

Therefore, at some point, the fixed payment coverage ratio may be too high. This will occur if a business is unnecessarily careful with taking up more debt. This will result in very low risk, but also in lower return. This, of course, is not aligned with the overall goal of the enterprise, which is the maximization of the wealth of its shareholders.

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Debt-equity ratio analysis

Debt-equity ratio analysis is one of several debt ratio analyses. Debt ratios measure the degree or financial leverage of the firm. The more debt the firm uses, the higher its financial leverage, the higher its financial risk (the risk of bankruptcy) and the higher the potential returns.

It measures the degree of indebtedness of the enterprise. It measures how much of equity and how much of debt a company uses to finance its assets. It is also referred to as leverage or gearing.

The formula is as follows:

Debt-equity ratio = Total liabilities/Shareholders equity

This formula is sometimes presented simply as:

Debt-equity ratio = Debt/Equity

Example of a debt-equity ratio analysis


Assume Gold Co. currently has total debt of $1,000,000 and shareholders equity of $1,800,000. The debt-equity ratio for the Gold Company is conducted as follows:

$1,000,000/$1,800,000=0.56

The result is less than 1 and indicates that business uses mainly equity to finance its operations. The financial risk of Gold Company seems to be under control. However, it is possible that company may have lower than possible returns due to being too careful with using debt financing. However, a closer investigation is required before any conclusions can be made.

Things to note about this ratio


If the debt-equity ratio shows a result of less than one, then it means that equity is mainly used to finance operations. However, if the debt-equity ratio is more than one, then it means that the debt is mainly used for financing of operations. If the result of debt-equity ratio analysis is equal to one, then it means that a half of financing comes from debt and a half comes from equity.

The more debt compared to equity the firm uses in financing its assets, the higher the financial risk and the higher the potential return. Financial risk refers to the risk of the firm being forced into bankruptcy if the firm does not meet its debt obligations as they come due.

The results should be compared to industry averages, to the firm’s past ratio trends and to a similar analysis of leading competitors within the industry.

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The debt ratio

A direct measure of debt of the firm is the debt ratio. Debt ratio measures how many of the firm’s assets are financed by debt. The higher the debt ratio the higher the degree of financial leverage (amount of debt) in the capital structure of the enterprise and the higher the risk and potential return.

The formula for the debt ratio is as follows:

Debt Ratio = Total liabilities/Total assets

If the debt ratio is higher than 1 than it means that an enterprise has more debt than assets. If the debt ratio is lower than 1 than it means that an enterprise has more assets than debt.

EXAMPLE:

Assume that ABC’s total liabilities are $1,700,000 and total assets are $4,000,000.

The debt ratio of ABC is as follows: $1,700,000/$4,000,000=42.5%

This means that ABC’s capital structure is 42.5% of debt and 57.5% of equity.

Test yourself


Dillon Corporation has total liabilities of $4,000,000 and total assets of $5,500,000.

Required: Find the debt ratio of Dillon Corporation

Solution:

The ratio is calculated as follows:

$4,000,000/$5,500,000 = 73%

This means that Dillon Corporation’s capital structure is 73% of debt and 27% of equity. A debt ratio of 73% is generally considered to be a very high debt ratio and may indicate a problem of a very high indebtedness and very high financial risk. However, as with all financial ratios, the debt ratio of Dillon Corporation should be compared to the industry average before any conclusions are drawn.

 

Average Payment Period

Average payment period (APP) is one of the activity ratios which measures the relationship between accounts payable and average purchases per day. Activity ratios help businesses to measure how efficiently various accounts are converted into sales or cash. Other activity ratios include average collection period, total asset turnover and inventory turnover analysis.

APP calculates how efficiently accounts payable are settled. It indicates, on average, how many days does it take to pay off accounts payable. APP is also referred to as the average age of accounts payable or the accounts payable turnover ratio.

The formula to calculate the APP is as follows:

APP = Accounts payable/Average purchases per day

The figure for accounts payable is obtained from the balance sheet and the figure for purchases is indirectly obtained from the income statement. Here the difficulty of calculating APP is highlighted. A figure for purchases is usually not available. Therefore, purchases are usually estimated as a percentage of cost of goods sold, which is in turn obtained from the income statement.

Purchases must be adjusted for credit purchases. This is done by deducting cash purchases. Further, credit purchases must be divided by the number of days per year to finally obtain average purchases per day.

Average credit purchases per day = Credit purchases/365

Example calculation


Assume First Parsons Company has accounts payable of $840,000 and credit purchases of $5,300,000. First Parsons Company was granted credit terms of 30 days by all its creditors. Assume there are 365 days year.

The average payment period of First Parsons Company is calculated as follows:

Firstly, we need to calculate the average credit purchases per day.

Average credit purchases per day = Credit purchases/365

= $5,300,000/365

= $14,520.55

Now, we are ready to calculate APP.

= $840,000/$14,520.55

=57.85 days

= 58 days

The APP of the First Parsons Company is 58 days. It takes on average 58 days to settle the accounts payable. However, the credit terms granted by creditors to First Parsons Company is 30 days. This means that company’s creditors require accounts to be settled within 30 days.

In light of this information, it is evident that payment of accounts payable is inadequately managed. If First Parsons Company will not attend to this issue in a timely manner, the current payment practices may lead to a number of harmful effects. Such harmful effects may include the inability to buy on credit from current suppliers, damage to the credibility of the business and a significantly deteriorating credit rating. This will be very harmful for the firm due to the further limitations it will impose on obtaining credit.

Things to note about this ratio


The average payment period analysis is only relevant when compared to credit terms granted to the business.

APP allows businesses to gain a better understanding of the cash outflows to be anticipated. Understanding of cash outflows is vital for successful operation of the business.

Average payment period analysis also identifies trends in the payment of the accounts payable. This can bring to management’s attention important variables that must be investigated to ensure successful operation of the business. For example, if the APP of the business increased from 30 to 68 days over 1 year while credit terms extended to the business remained the same at 30 days, a further investigation will be required to understand such a large increase in this ratio.

Further, to obtain a better understanding, one should compare the APP ratio to industry averages, to the ratio of leading firms in the industry and to the firm’s own historical results.

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Average Collection Period

The average collection period is one of the activity ratios which measures the relationship between accounts receivable and average credit sales per day. Activity ratios help businesses to measure how efficiently various accounts are converted into sales or cash. Other activity ratios include average payment period, total asset turnover and inventory turnover analysis.

It calculates how efficiently accounts receivable are collected. It indicates the quality of debtors of the business (how promptly debtors pay their bills as they come due). It is also referred to as the average age of accounts receivable, debtors collection period ratio or a collection ratio.

The formula to calculate the average collection period ratio is as follows:

Average Collection Period = Accounts receivable/Average sales per day

The figure for accounts receivable is obtained from the balance sheet and the figure for sales is obtained from the income statement. Sales must be further adjusted to credit sales, by excluding cash sales. Further, credit sales must be divided by the number of days per year to finally obtain average sales per day (average credit sales per day).

Average sales per day = Credit sales/365

Example calculation


Assume Heroic Company has accounts receivable of $750,000 and credit sales of $4,050,000. Heroic Company has credit terms of 30 days. Assume 365 days year.

The average collection period of Heroic Company is calculated as follows:

Average sales per day = Credit sales/365

= $4,050,000/365

= $11,095.89

Average collection period = $750,000/$11,095.89=67.6 days = 68 days.

It takes on average 68 days to collect the accounts receivable. However, the credit terms of Heroic Company is 30 days. This means that company’s customers have 30 days to settle their accounts.

In light of this information, it is evident that collection of accounts receivable and/or process of granting the credit to customers is inadequately managed. The performance and processes of credit and collection departments should be investigated to draw further conclusions.

Things to note about this ratio


Results are only relevant when compared to a company’s credit terms.

The average collection period ratio therefore allows business to gain a better understanding of the cash inflows to be anticipated. Understanding of cash inflows are vital for successful operation of the business.

It also allows to identify trends in the collection of the accounts receivable. This can bring to management’s attention important variables that must be investigated to ensure successful operation of the business. For example, if the average collection period of the business increased from 30 to 68 days over 1 year, a further investigation will be required to understand such a large increase in this ratio.

Furthermore, to obtain a better understanding, one should compare the average collection period ratio to industry averages, to the ratio of leading firms in the industry and to the firms own historical results.