Advantages and Disadvantages of Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC)

There are advantages and disadvantages of the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) which are discussed in detail in the post coming ahead. The perfect understanding of the concept of WACC is a must for all finance professionals.

Advantages of Weighted Average Cost of Capital

Corporations constantly keep track of the costs they incur. We all know that whenever costs are kept low, the profits jump, and in turn, the value of your business increases indirectly. Similarly, like other costs, the weighted average cost of capital, as the name suggests, is the cost that companies incur on their capital. Capital can either be debt or equity. Hence, WACC is one of the parameters that companies look at to increase the firm’s value. The lower the WACC, the higher will be the value of the firm.

A Measure for Inter-Firm Comparision

You can compare the WACC of corporations having similar business risks. This will help you to know which corporation is using capital at the minimum costs. Note – the business risk is the possibility that a company may generate less than the required profits. This risk may prevent you from achieving your company targets. The business risk may differ from industry to industry and is mostly the same in a particular industry. A company having lower WACC compared to other companies operating in the same industry is an advantageous situation. It can create more value for its stakeholders.

Used for Valuing a Firm

WACC is used by the valuation team for calculating the value of the firm. Are you wondering how? Let us understand with an example.

Free Cash Flow to Firm (FCFF) is the cash available to all debt and equity holders. Analysts use FCFF, growth, and WACC to calculate the value of the firm.

FCFF = $ 10,000, for simplicity we will assume that one expects to grow FCFF every year till perpetuity at the rate of 8%. WACC of the firm is supposing 12%. Value of the firm is as follows –

Value of the firm @ time t-1 = FCFF0 * (1+g) / (WACC – g)

= 10000 * (1.08) / (12%-8%)

=10,800 / 4%

= $270,000.

As I have mentioned above (in the 1st point) that lower the WACC, higher would be the value of the firm. Note – FCFF0 = FCFF at Year 1. FCFF0 * (1+g) = FCFF @ Year 2.

A Criterion to Accept or Reject a New Project

The weighted average cost of capital guides the corporate finance team to judge whether to accept or reject a project. In this process, IRR (Internal Rate of Return) is compared with the cost of capital of the firm to decide whether to accept or reject a project.

If IRR is greater than the cost of capital, the project can be undertaken, or else the project is rejected. For e.g.: IRR = 15%, cost of capital (WACC) = 8%, IRR > Cost of capital, accept the project.

Used as a Hurdle Rate

WACC is the minimum rate of return the corporation must generate to satisfy its shareholders and its creditors. Therefore, WACC acts as a hurdle rate that the corporations have to cross to generate value for all shareholders and stakeholders.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Weighted Average Cost of Capital

Disadvantages of Weighted Average Cost of Capital

Cost of Equity is Difficult to Calculate

Cost of debt (Kd) and Cost of equity (Ke) is to be estimated in the first place to calculate WACC. Ke is difficult to estimate for private companies because of the lack of publicly available data. For the public companies, the cost of equity calculation has various methods and which one to use has to be given a thought. There is no single formula that can be applied to every firm for calculating Ke. Since estimating Ke becomes difficult calculating WACC, in turn, becomes tough.

Unrealistic Assumptions: “D/E Mix will Remain Constant”

The debt/ Equity ratio will keep on changing, and hence WACC will change. For the forecasting value of the firm, WACC is assumed to be constant, which in turn means that the debt/equity ratio will remain constant, which is impossible. Using WACC carries an assumption that the debt to equity ratio remains constant.

Increasing Debt to Achieve Lower WACC is Problematic

WACC can be lowered by introducing debt on the balance sheet. Adding debt beyond the optimal capital structure in pursuit of achieving lower WACC can increase your present value of the cost of financial distress more than the value of the levered firm. We need to first see how adding debt lowers the WACC to understand this. E.g. –

A firm has 100% Equity. Equity = $1000, cost of equity (Ke) = 10%

Since there is no debt, WACC will be equal to 10%.

WACC = (Equity/ Total capital) * (Ke) + (Debt/ Total capital) * (kd * (1-t)).

t= tax rate.

Now let’s say there is debt introduced on the balance sheet.

If Equity = $ 1000, Debt = $ 500, Ke = 8% , Kd = 6% , tax rate = 28% then according to WACC formula,

WACC = (1000/1500) * 8% + (500/1500) * 6% * (1- 28%)

= 0.6666 * 8% + 0.3333 * 4.32% = 5.3328 % + 1.4398% = 6.77%.

By introducing debt, WACC decreased from 10% to 6.77%.

Financial distress is when the company is having difficulty making payments to its creditors.

The cost of financial distress is the cost that a firm incurs beyond the cost of carrying day to day business operations. E.g., if a company defaults on its payments, then the goodwill of the company may be impaired because of which the company may lose its prospective customers. The present value cost of financial distress is the estimated distress cost discounted backward. Therefore, if a firm adds debt inadvertently, then the present value cost of financial distress may be more than the value of the levered firm. You may then lose the benefit of leverage, and being company-specific, you may also lose the advantages of WACC.

Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

MBA-Finance, CMA, CS, Insolvency Professional, B'Com

Sanjay Borad, Founder of eFinanceManagement, is a Management Consultant with 7 years of MNC experience and 11 years in Consultancy. He caters to clients with turnovers from 200 Million to 12,000 Million, including listed entities, and has vast industry experience in over 20 sectors. Additionally, he serves as a visiting faculty for Finance and Costing in MBA Colleges and CA, CMA Coaching Classes.

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