Financial Lease (Capital Lease)

Finance lease (also called financial lease or capital lease) refers to the lease of the asset where the useful life is closely aligned to the term of the lease. The lease term is longer than operating lease. Finance leases are usually leases for an asset which does not become technologically obsolete. Under a capital lease, the lessee is usually responsible for all maintenance and other costs. Comparatively, under an operational lease, lessor is usually responsible for such costs.

A lessor purchases an asset selected by the lessee. The lessee will be able to use the asset during the duration of the lease agreement as long as contractual, periodic and timely payments are made by lessee to the lessor.

At the end of the term, the lessee may have a purchase option which allows the lessee to acquire an ownership of the asset. The lessee is not allowed to cancel the lease which makes a financial lease similar to long-term debt. If a lessee misses contractual or periodic payments, the lessee may be forced into bankruptcy.

Because under a finance lease, the lessee may have some ownership of the asset with some risks and benefits that comes with ownership, a finance lease must be recorded as a capitalized lease. This refers to recording the present value of all contractual payments and assets and corresponding liabilities on the balance sheet.

Under a finance lease, the firm benefits from the tax-deductibility of the interest paid on the leased asset as well as from depreciation of the leased asset which is recorded as an expense on the firm’s income statement.

This leads to increases in the debt/equity ratio and therefore an increase in financial leverage compared to an operational lease. It also leads to a decrease in working capital due to an increase in current liabilities.

Moreover, part of the payments due to a financial lease are recorded as a reduction in lease liability under operating cash flows and part is recorded as lease interest payments under financing cash flows. This leads to an increase in operating cash flow compared to records under operating lease where only operating cash flow is affected.

Because firms have an incentive to report leases as operational leases, certain regulatory rules were established by Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) which specify which assets can qualify for operational leases. The following is a list of characteristics of financial leases. If even one of such characteristic is met than an asset should be recorded as financial lease.

  • A lease term is 75% or more of the useable life of the asset.
  • At the commencement of the lease agreement, the present value of the lease payments is equal to 90% or more of the fair market value of the leased asset.
  • Ownership of the asset is transferred to the lessee at the maturity of the lease agreement.
  • A lease agreement contains an option to purchase the asset at the “bargain price” which must be the fair market value.

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Using a financial calculator

Using a financial calculator is a skill, similar to typing. You just need to know which steps to take and then you need to practice to the point when you feel comfortable with using a calculator.

In all explanations with a financial calculator we will be using an HP 10bll. Other financial calculators are similar, yet we find it easier to work with the HP. Most text books use HP calculators when providing guidance on using a financial calculator, so if you have a different calculator you may need to spend more time learning slightly different calculation steps. Before investing further time, it may be wise to get a universally used calculator.

Before using a financial calculator to make specific calculations such as calculating NPV or IRR, it is important to make sure that you:

1 – Clear the calculator – by pressing second function followed by “C All”

2 – Set calculator for the “END” by pressing second function followed by “BEG/END” and ensuring that the word “BEGIN” is not displayed. Exceptions to this rule occur when it is specifically stated in the problem that cash flows occur at the beginning of the period (for example, at the beginning of the year).

Again, if no sign appears on the display then you do not need to reset it as it is set for “END” by default. If it says “BEGIN” on the display, you need to press second function followed by “beg/end.”

When you set the calculator for the “END” of the period you do that because in the problem you are working with, cash inflow or outflow occurs at the end of the period. If the problem does not state when cash flows occur, you need to assume that it occurs at the “END” of the period.

The majority of calculations will require the “END” setting. If it is by mistake set for “BEGIN” but cash flows occur at the end of the period, then incorrect answers will be generated.

Therefore, it is advisable to keep it set for the “END” at all times as a default and only reset it for “BEGIN” when a calculation requires that to be done. Right after a calculation is completed that requires the “BEGIN” setting, it is important to develop a habit to reset it to the “END”.

In the explanations using a financial calculator, for convenience and clarity purposes, we will generally display explanations of calculations as presented in the example below:

PV: -900 I: 7 N: 5 FV: 1,262.3

When using a HP 10bll financial calculator, or using any financial calculator, you need to first insert the number (number, e.g. -900) and then insert the purpose of the number (e.g. PV).

For example, as per above, you need to press:

900 followed by the minus sign followed by PV

7 followed by I

5 followed by N

Than press FV, and the calculator will display the correct answer

Financial calculators sometimes give false answers. It is advisable to check each calculation 3-4 times to make sure that the same answer is given consistently.

Throughout the site, if you ever struggle with a calculation, always come back to this page for some simple tips on using a financial calculator.

Test yourself

ABC Corporation plans to invest in project C which has an initial investmentof $500,000. ABC’s cost of capital is 8%. The operating cash flows to be generated from the project will be as follows:

End of 1st year: $100,000 End of 2nd year: $300,000 End of 3rd year $250,000

1 – What is the Profitability Index (PI) for project C?

2 – What is the NPV for project C?

3 – Taking the NPV found in the previous step into account, is the project acceptable according to the NPV technique?

4 – Based on the Profitability Index (PI), is project C acceptable?


1 – First we need to find present values of the mixed stream of operating cash inflows. Using a financial calculator, we need to take the following steps:

End of 1st year:

FV: $100,000

N: 1

I: 10

Calculate PV: $90,909.09

End of 2nd year:

FV: $300,000 N: 2

I: 10

Calculate PV: $247,933.88

End of 3rd year:

FV: $250,000

N: 3

I: 10

Calculate PV: $187,828.7

Next we need to add up all present values from operating cash inflows to obtain the total PV of operating cash inflows:

= $90,909.09 + $247,933.88 + $187,828.7

Total PV of operating cash inflows = $526,671.67

Next we will follow the equation for Profitability Index (PI):

PI = Total present value of cash inflows/Initial investment



Therefore, the profitability index (PI) for project C is 1.05.

2 – To find NPV, we follow the formula for NPV:

NPV=Present value of cash inflows – Initial investment

Therefore, NPV for project C = $526,671.67 – $500,000

NPV for project C = $26,671.67

3 – Since NPV is more than zero ($26,671.67), project C is acceptable according to NPV technique.

4 – Since Profitability Index (PI) is greater than 1 (1.05), the project may be considered to be acceptable. is powered by Firmsconsulting is a training company that finds and nurtures tomorrow’s leaders in business, government and academia via bespoke online training to develop one’s executive presence, critical thinking abilities, high performance skill-set, and strategy, operations and implementation capabilities. Learn more at

Sign up to receive a 3-part FREE strategy video training series here.

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:


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




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.


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. is powered by Firmsconsulting is a training company that finds and nurtures tomorrow’s leaders in business, government and academia via bespoke online training to develop one’s executive presence, critical thinking abilities, high performance skill-set, and strategy, operations and implementation capabilities. Learn more at

Sign up to receive a 3-part FREE strategy video training series here.