A measure of the rate that companies pay to finance their operations

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Vandita Jadeja

The WACC is a factor to take into account in determining the minimum acceptable rate of return on an investment. fizkes / Getty

  • The Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) is a key metric that shows a company’s cost of capital through its debt and equity.
  • If a company’s WACC is high, the cost of financing the business is higher, which usually indicates higher risk.
  • Investors often use the WACC to determine whether a business is worth investing or lending money.
  • Visit Insider’s Investment Reference Library for more stories.


The weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is a financial ratio that measures the costs of financing a business. It weights equity and debt in proportion to their percentage of the total capital structure. Company executives use the WACC to make decisions about how to fund operations or projects, and it helps investors determine the minimum rate of return they are willing to accept on their money.

Companies raise capital from external sources in two main ways: by selling stocks or by taking on debt in the form of bonds or loans. Understanding the cost of this funding is a crucial part of the decision-making process for managers running the business and a key metric for investors in deciding whether or not to invest. If a business has only one type of capital, equity, or debt, determining the cost is relatively straightforward. WACC is a more complicated measure of the average rate of return required by all of its creditors and investors.

What is the WACC for?

The WACC determines the rate a company is supposed to pay to raise capital from all sources. This includes bonds and other long-term debt, as well as common and preferred stocks. It gives management an overview of its overall cost of borrowing and helps determine the amount of return on new projects or operations that will be required to justify the cost of financing them.

Investors use the WACC to decide whether the business is worth investing or lending money. If the WACC is high, the cost of financing the business is higher, which usually indicates a higher risk. Conversely, a lower WACC signals a relatively low cost of financing and less risk.

“The formula takes the cost of each of the sources of capital and weights them according to the market value of the business,” says Daniel Milan, investment advisor at Cornerstone Financial Services. “This is important because it gives an analyst an idea of ​​how much interest a company has to pay for every dollar it funds for its operations or assets. This is essential in assessing the value of an investment.

How is the WACC calculated?

There are several ways to calculate the WACC, which is expressed as a percentage. Here is the basic formula:

Weighted average cost of capital formula

Basically, you first establish the cost of debt and the cost of equity. Then you multiply each of these by their weight proportional to the market value. Add those two numbers together and multiply the result by the company’s corporate tax rate.

A more complicated formula can be applied in the case where the company has preferred stocks, which are valued differently from common stocks, as they usually pay fixed dividends on a regular schedule.

The financial report

While WACC is not one of the most common metrics used by individual investors like, say, a company’s price-to-earnings ratio, professionals routinely use it as part of their in-depth analysis of various investment opportunities. And that’s something you’re likely to see in analyst reports that you come across when looking for stocks.

“The weighted average cost of capital is a formula that can be used to get an idea of ​​how much interest a company owes for every dollar it finances,” says Maxim Manturov, head of investment research at Freedom Holding Corp . “For this reason, the This approach is popular among analysts looking to assess the true value of an investment.

Whichever way you get it, whether it is on your own or from a research report on a company that interests you, the WACC shows a company’s mixed cost of capital from all of the above. sources of funding. It represents the average rate of return it needs to satisfy all of its investors. This is a factor to consider in determining whether the potential returns are worth the risk you take in investing.


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