# Cost of capital

Page written by AI. Reviewed internally on July 9, 2024.

### Definition

Cost of capital refers to the total cost a company incurs in order to raise funds for its operations and investments. It represents the overall expense of utilising various sources of financing, such as equity (stocks) and debt (loans or bonds), to support the company’s activities.

### What is cost of capital?

The cost of capital takes into account both the cost of equity and the cost of debt. The cost of equity is the return that shareholders expect for investing in the company’s stock, taking into consideration factors like dividends and potential capital gains. The cost of debt, on the other hand, is the interest expense a company pays on its borrowed funds.

Calculating the cost of capital helps a company make informed decisions about which projects or investments to undertake. It serves as a benchmark to assess whether the potential returns from an investment are greater than the cost of obtaining the necessary funds. This analysis is crucial for maintaining profitability and shareholder value.

For businesses, understanding the cost of capital is essential for strategic planning, capital budgeting, and evaluating the financial viability of various opportunities. It’s a fundamental concept in corporate finance that plays a pivotal role in shaping a company’s financial decisions.

##### Weighted average cost of capital

TheÂ weighted average cost of capital (WACC)Â represents a firmâ€™s overall cost of capital, considering the weighted costs of bothÂ equityÂ and debt. It reflects the averageÂ rate of returnÂ a company is expected to pay its security holders to finance itsÂ assets.

It is calculated by multiplying the cost of each capital component (equity, debt) by its proportional weight and summing the results, WACC is used to assess investment opportunities and determine the minimum acceptableÂ return on invested capital, guiding financial decision-making.

##### Cost of capital vs. discount rate

Cost of capital refers to the rate a company must pay to finance its operations and growth, including the costs of both equity and debt. It represents the minimum return that investors expect for providing capital to the company. TheÂ discount rate, on the other hand, is used in discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis to determine the present value of futureÂ cash flows.

While the discount rate often includes the cost of capital, it can also factor in additional elements like risk premiums, making it a broader concept for evaluating investment opportunities.

### Example of cost of capital

XYZ Company is considering a new project that requires an investment of Â£1 million. The company can finance the project using a mix of equity and debt. The cost of equity is estimated to be 10%, and the cost of debt is 5%.

If XYZ Company decides to use 50% debt and 50% equity to finance the project, the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) can be calculated as follows:

Cost of capital = Cost of equity Ã— Equity weight + Cost of debt Ã— DebtÂ

In this case:

• Cost of equity = 10%
• Equity weight = 50%
• Cost of debt = 5%
• Debt weight = 50%

Cost of capital = (0.10 Ã— 0.50) + (0.05 Ã— 0.50) = 0.075

Therefore, the average cost of capital for XYZ Company, in this example, is 7.5%. This represents the overall cost of financing the project taking into account both equity and debt.