(WACC) Weighted average cost of capital (ra)

Weighted average cost of capital (WACC) (ra) is a very simple concept. Weighted average cost of capital (WACC) refers to the weighted cost of both debt and equity financing, according to the firm’s specific optimal mix of financing (debt and equity). Knowing the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) enables better decision making about proposed projects.

The formula for weighted average cost of capital (WACC) (ra) is as follows:

WACC=(wd*rd)+(we*re)+(ws*rn or rr)

Where:

wd = a weight for the long-term debt

we = a weight for the preferred stock

we = a weight for the common stock

rd = the cost of long-term debt

re = the cost of preferred stock

rn = the cost of new common stock

rr = the cost of retained earnings

All sources of capital and their weights must be taken into account.

Example


Project Omega was proposed with an expected return of 9% and the firm’s cost of capital for debt financing is 7% and cost of capital for equity financing is 12%. Further, the optimal mix of debt and equity of the firm is 40 percent of debt and 60 percent of equity. Then, the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is calculated as follows:

weighted average cost of capital (WACC) = 7% * 0.40 + 12% * 0.60

2.8 + 7.2 = 10%

The weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is 10%.

Given the information above, the proposed project with expected return of 9% should be rejected as it is below the firm’s 10% weighted average cost of capital (WACC).

When making investment decisions, business must only choose projects that bring returns higher than the weighted average cost of capital (WACC).

Test yourself


Company ABC has the following sources of capital:

Long-term debt at 7% after-tax cost with weight of 35% in the capital structure.

Preferred stock at 9% after-tax cost with weight of 10% in the capital structure.

Common stock at 14% after-tax cost with weight of 55% in the capital structure.

REQUIRED: Find the weighted average cost of capital (WACC).

SOLUTION:

weighted average cost of capital (WACC) =7%*.35+9%*.10+14%*.55

WACC=2.45+.9+7.7

WACC=11.05%

Calculating weights


As per above, to calculate the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) we need to know the weight of each source of financing. When calculating weights, market values or book values can be used. Market values evaluate the proportion of capital at the market value and book values evaluate the proportion of capital at the book (accounting) value. It is better to use market values, as it is a more realistic value.

Further, when calculating weights, we can use either target or historical proportions. Target proportions refer to the optimal capital mix that a business would like to achieve. Historical proportion refers to the proportion based on the past. The target proportion is preferred.

***

Weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is a VERY important concept to understand. It is one of the central concepts in business and finance. The basic idea of weighted average cost of capital (WACC) concept is that it shows us the expected average cost of funds in the long-term. Make sure you are comfortable with explanations and calculations of the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) before progressing to the next section.

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Terminal Cash flow in capital budgeting decisions

Terminal cash flow refers to the cash flow, which takes place at the end of the project life. Terminal cash flow takes into account a net salvage value received at the end (liquidation) of the project (such as sale of the asset).

Terminal cash flow excludes operation cash inflow from the last year of the project but includes cash flow due to change in net working capital. Generally, change in net working capital results in the cash inflow which is the recovered amount of cash outflow (due to increase in net working capital) that were taken into account at the beginning of the project (when calculating the initial investment).

The calculation of the terminal cash flow is as follows:

After-tax proceeds from the new asset

LESS: After-tax proceeds from the old asset

LESS/ADD: Change in net working capital

= TERMINAL CASH FLOW

As stated above, when we calculate a terminal cash flow, we reverse the change in net working capital, which was taken into account during the calculation of the initial cash outflow (initial investment) .

If there was an increase in net working capital at the beginning of the project than we see it as inflow when calculating the terminal cash flow and vice versa. In other words, if there was an outflow due to change in net working capital at the beginning of the project than we reverse it by adding it back during calculation of the terminal cash flow.

Tax considerations in calculation of the terminal cash flow are the same as explained in initial cash outflow (initial investment) section earlier.

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Operating Cash Inflows

Operating cash inflows is a second variable that we must take into account when determining cash flows from the project. It refers to incremental (additional) cash inflows over the duration of the project. The cash inflows do not take into account interest payments and are calculated as follows:

Revenue

LESS: Expenses (excluding depreciation and interest

 

= EBDIT (Earnings before depreciation, interest and taxes)

LESS: Depreciation

 

= EBIT (Earnings before interest and tax)

LESS: Taxes

 

= NOPAT (Net operating profit after taxes)

ADD: Depreciation

 

= OPERATING CASH INFLOWS