The cost of capital is the cost of obtaining funds, through debt or equity, in order to finance an investment. It is used to evaluate new projects of a company, as it is the minimum return that investors expect for providing capital to the company, thus setting a benchmark that a new project has to meet.
The concept of cost of capital is a major standard for comparison used in finance decisions. Acceptance or rejection of an investment project depends on the cost that the company has to pay for financing it. Good financial management calls for selection of such projects, which are expected to earn returns, which are higher than the cost of capital. It is therefore, important for the finance manager to calculate the cost of capital, which the company has to pay and compare it with the rate of return, which the project is expected to earn.
In capital expenditure decisions, finance managers go on accepting projects arranged in descending order of rate of return. He stops at the point where the cost of capital equals to the rate of return offered by the project. That is, the finance manager finds out the break-even point of the project. Accepting any project beyond the break-even point will cause financial loss for the company.
The cost of capital is a guideline for determining the optimum capital structure of a company.
Weighted average cost of capital (WACC)
WACC is the weighted average rate of return required by the suppliers of capital for the firm’s investment project. The suppliers of capital will demand a rate of return that compensates them for the proportional risk they bear by investing in the project.
The WACC is the minimum return that a company must earn on an existing asset base to satisfy its creditors, owners, and other providers of capital, or they will invest elsewhere. Companies raise money from a number of sources: common equity, preferred stock, straight debt, convertible debt, exchangeable debt,