Weighted Marginal Cost of Capital (WMCC) and Investment Opportunities Schedule

By finding all break points, we can construct the weighted marginal cost of capital – WMCC – schedule. (WMCC) schedules show the relationship between the level of total new financing and a company’s weighted average cost of capital.

Thereafter, we can construct the investment opportunities schedule (IOS), which is a graph where the business’s investment opportunities are ranked based on their returns and financing required, arranged from the highest returns and all the way to the lowest returns. It is the decreasing function of the level of total financing.

If we combine the weighted marginal cost of capital (WMCC) schedule and investment opportunities schedule (IOS), we can use it to make investment decisions. The rule is to invest in projects up to the point on the graph where marginal return from investment equals its WMCC (where IOS=WMCC).

All projects on the left of the point where IOS=WMCC will maximize shareholders wealth and all points on the right of the point where IOS=WMCC will decrease shareholders’ wealth.

It is important to note that the majority of firms stop investing before the marginal return from investment equals its weighted marginal cost of capital (WMCC). Therefore, the majority of businesses prefer a capital rationing position (the position below the optimal investment budget, which is also called the optimal capital budget).

Test yourself


ABC Company has to make an investment of $1,000,000. The long-term debt weight in the capital structure is 35%. ABC has $700,000 of retained earnings but 50% of it must be paid to common stock shareholders in the form of dividends. Preferred stock is currently not used as a source of finance by ABC.

What are the weights that ABC will have for each source of capital?

SOLUTION:

Firstly, we need to find out how much of retained earnings ABC has left after payment of dividends to shareholders: $700,000*0.5=$350,000.

Therefore, the weight of retained earnings is 35% ($350,000 out of $1,000,000).

$1,000,000-$350,000 (35%, funds available from long-term debt source) – $350,000 (35%, funds available from retained earnings) = $300,000 (30%)

Therefore, the weights are as follows:

Long-term debt – 40%

Retained earnings – 35%

Common stock – 30%

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Weighted Marginal Cost of Capital (WMCC)

Weighted Marginal Cost of Capital – WMCC – is the WACC applicable to the next dollar of the total new financing. Related to the concept is the break point concept. Weighted average cost of capital (WACC) may change over time due to changes in the volume of financing. This occurs as the volume of financing increases, the risk increases and providers of funds require higher return on the funds that they make available.

The WACC of the next dollar of the total financing may be different from the WACC of the last dollar of the total financing.

Related articles: Break Point, Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC)

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(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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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).

 

Optimal capital structure

Theoretically, enterprises should try to maintain a certain optimal capital structure, a perfect mix of financing (debt and equity), which results in the lowest possible weighted average cost of capital. At this combination of debt and equity, the stock price is at the maximum. Therefore, attainment of the optimal structure is in line with the main objective of the business, which is the maximization of wealth of the owners of the business. The optimal structure is also referred to as the target capital structure. However, it is important to note the optimal structure exists only in theory.

Theory does not yet offer a methodology that would allow firms’ financial managers to find the optimal capital structure. However, financial managers can determine the approximate optimal structure range, which is close to what they believe the optimal structure for the firm is.

As per above, an optimal structure maximizes the value of the firm. To find the value of the firm, we can use the following formula:

V=EBIT*(1-T)/ra

Which simplifies into:

V=NOPAT/ra

Where:

V = is the value of the firm

EBIT = is earnings before interest and taxes (see the income statement for how it is calculated)

NOPAT = is the net operating profit after taxes (calculated by formula EBIT*(1-T)/ra)

ra = is the weighted average cost of capital (WACC)

If we assume that NOPAT is consistent, then the value of the firm is affected by WACC (ra, weighted average cost of capital). WACC is affected by both, the cost of debt and equity.

The cost of equity


The cost of equity is higher than the cost of debt and increases as financial leverage increases. This is because equity suppliers will demand higher return for increasing financial risk due to increasing financial leverage.

The cost of debt


The cost of debt initially is relatively low. The major reason for this is due to the fact that interest on debt is tax deductible. This tax deductibility of interest paid on debt is also commonly called the tax shield. However, as debt increases, at certain debt ratio lenders will begin to require higher and higher interest payments from the borrower. This is undertaken in order to compensate for increasing risk due to increasing financial leverage.

There are two other costs of debt that the firm needs to consider:

(1) Debt increases the probability of bankruptcy. This is because lenders can force the firm into bankruptcy if the firm cannot meet its financial obligations to the lender.

(2) Another aspect to consider is the agency cost. This refers to the fact that lenders usually protect themselves from increases in risk of the borrower by imposing different loan provisions, which place constraints on actions and choices of the firm. Such provisions commonly include, but are not limited to, minimum levels of liquidity to be maintained, limits on compensation of the executives and limitations on asset acquisitions.

***

As debt increases from a zero point onwards, WACC initially decreases to the theoretical optimal capital structure point. Thereafter, the increasing equity cost and increasing cost of debt causes WACC to start increasing again. Therefore the theoretical optimal capital structure is obtained at the point where the WACC is the lowest.

In other words, the theoretical optimal capital structure occurs at the point where the benefits from using debts are in equilibrium (in balance) with the costs of using debt. The optimal capital structure can also be seen as the balance between risk and return where the firm’s stock price is maximized.

 

Capital structure decisions

Capital structure decisions refer to the decisions businesses have to make with regards to the mix of financing they use. The mix consists of debt and/or equity as sources of capital. In other words, it is a structure of the liabilities and equity side of the balance sheet, excluding current liabilities. Enterprises usually try to maintain a certain optimal mix of financing (debt and equity), referred to as the target capital structure.

The modern approach to capital structures is largely influenced by the work of Franco Modigliani and Merton H. Miller. This is also known as the M and M, or MM work. Their work published in 1958 in American Economic Review (June 1958) entitled “The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance, and the Theory of Investment” suggests that under condition of perfect markets, capital structure decisions do not affect the value of the firm. Any increase in Return on Equity goes hand in hand with increase in risk. Therefore, weighted average cost of capital (WACC) stays constant.

In their later work, Franco Modigliani and Merton H. Miller introduced taxes into the model. Their further conclusion was that if corporate taxes are present then the value of the enterprise will increase continuously as more debt is added to capital structure.

This is possible because debt interest payments are tax deductible. However, it is evident that personal taxes will decrease the advantage gained. As a result, it is still profitable to use debt financing. However, the advantage gained is lessened by the existence of personal taxes versus existence of just corporate taxes.

Theoretically, enterprises can increase the value of the firm by finding the optimum capital structure (mix of equity and debt). The optimum capital structure refers to capital structure decisions according to which the weighted average cost of capital is at its minimum value and, as a result, the value of the firm is maximized.

Therefore, the optimum capital structure is in line with the main objective of the business, which is the maximization of wealth of the owners of the business. However, it is important to note that the optimal capital structure exists only in theory.

Sources of capital


Sources of capital include debt and equity. Equity is further subdivided into preferred stock and common stock. In turn, common stock is even further subdivided into new common stock and retained earnings.

When making capital structure decisions, it is important to keep in mind that generally debt is the least expensive source of capital. This is due to the fact that the lender takes much less risk than suppliers of the equity capital. This is occurs because:

(1) Debt has obligatory scheduled payments. Whereas, equity suppliers, especially in case of common stock, will only be paid when company can afford to do so.

(2) In case of liquidation, lenders have priority claim on assets of the company over equity suppliers.

(3) If firm misses obligatory interest or principal payments, lenders can force the firm into bankruptcy. Therefore, lenders have more power in ensuring that payments will be made on time.

Moreover, interest on debt is tax deductible, which makes it an even cheaper source of capital for the firm. Overall, and as stated above, debt is generally the cheapest source of capital for the firm.

How capital structure decisions affect the risk of a company?


Enterprises deal with three types of risks: financial risk, business risk and total risk. The capital structure directly affects the financial and total risk of the firm.

FINANCIAL RISK – a chance that firm will not be able to meet its financial obligations, which can result in bankruptcy. Financial risk is directly affected by the 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 – a chance that firm will not be able to cover its operating costs. There are three factors that affect business risk. These are an increase in the degree of operating leverage, revenue instability and cost instability. Capital structure decisions do not affect business risk.

TOTAL RISK – a combination of financial and business risk. Since capital structure decisions affect financial risk, the total risk is also affected.

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