Capital Expenditures (CapEx)

14:05, 22 February 2023

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The expected value of a stock should increase in direct proportion to the capex budget. But how reliable is capex growth as predictor of a stock’s future returns? 

The stock market has always treated capital investments of publicly listed companies as a sign of growth. Fund managers and analysts use the level of capital expenditures, or CapEx, to forecast a stock's future profitability because earnings growth comes from expansion. 

The past two years have seen subdued capital spending by the private sector as well as the government owing to the pandemic and lockdowns. 

This is now expected to change. Lately, we have witnessed major CapEx announcements across sectors. Private CapEx is now witnessing a boom as the demand revives, said analysts. 

There is quite a bit you should know before you dive in. If you want to ride the CapEx trend to invest in stocks, here is a quick guide:  

  • Learn how capital expenditures (CapEx) affect stock returns 
  • Research among 5,000 shares with ownership and 2,000 CFDs available with 
  • Create an account with us to ride the CapEx trend in the stock market   

What is CapEx? 

The cash that businesses spend to buy, improve, or prolong the life of an asset is known as capital expenditure (CapEx). The purpose of capital investments is to improve the company's long-term financial stability. The assets purchased through capital expenditures are long-term investments with a useful life of at least one year.

Even though the costs are advantageous to a business, they frequently involve a sizable financial investment. In order to efficiently create the revenue required to pay the cost of the capital expenditure, businesses must effectively budget. 

A corporation will frequently use capital investments to boost operational effectiveness, boost long-term revenue, or upgrade its current assets. When compared to other sorts of expenditure, such as overhead costs or payments to suppliers and creditors, which concentrate on short-term operating costs, capital spending is different. 

The capital expenditures of a firm are widely watched by investors and analysts because they might reveal if top management is investing in the long-term viability of the business. 

How to Calculate Net Capital Expenditure (CapEx) 

If you have access to a company's cash flow statement, you can just look at the capital expenditures that were made in the investing cash flow section without performing any calculations. 

If depreciation is separated out on the income statement and you don't have access to the cash flow statement, you can still determine the net capital expenditure (which most, but not all, companies do). 

Follow these steps to calculate capital expenditures (CapEx): 

  • Locate depreciation and amortization on the income statement 
  • Locate the current period property, plant & equipment (PP&E) on the balance sheet 
  • Locate the prior period PP&E on the same balance sheet 
  • Use the formula below to arrive at CapEx 

CapEx Formula 

The CapEx formula from the income statement and balance sheet is: 

CapEx = PP&E (current period) – PP&E (prior period) + Depreciation (current period) 

This formula is derived from the logic that the current period PP&E on the balance sheet is equal to the prior period PP&E plus capital expenditures less depreciation. 

CapEx and Depreciation 

Over the course of the fixed asset's useful life, depreciation is utilized to cost it. Instead of deducting the entire cost of an asset in the year it is purchased, depreciation helps to spread the cost out over several years. Until the asset's useful life is through, depreciation enables businesses to profit from the asset while deducting a portion of its cost each year. 

For instance, if an asset costs $10,000 and is anticipated to be used for five years, depreciation may be charged at the rate of $2,000 per year for the following five years. Depreciation can be calculated using several different techniques. Costs that aren't capital outlay must be deducted in full the year they're incurred. 

CapEx Limits 

There are capitalization limits, which specify that the price of assets must be greater than to be depreciated over time rather than charged entirely as an expense in the current year. The cost of record-keeping associated with depreciation causes capitalization limits to be put into effect. Costs that are not depreciated and are associated strictly with operational matters are known as operational expenditures. 

Types of Capital Expenditures (CapEx) 

Below are some of the common types of capital expenditures, which can vary depending on the industry. 

Buildings and Property 

A building or property upgrade would be seen as a capital acquisition since the asset will be used for many years. Secured debt or a mortgage, for which the payments are made over a long period of time, is frequently used to facilitate the purchase of the real estate, machinery, and equipment. Between what is a repair (not extending the asset's useful life) and a capital upgrade, there is a fine line. 

Both the cost of the asset and the interest payments connected with debt financing may be discounted. Costs related to the issuance of stock, however, would not be eligible for depreciation. 

Upgrades to Equipment 

Equipment used to manufacture things in the manufacturing sector and other sectors may become dated or just wear out. The equipment frequently requires upgrades. The costs of these changes should be discounted over time if they exceed the capitalization limit that is currently in place. Equipment upgrades are frequently financed, just like buildings or other real estates. It's possible to deduct the cost of this loan as well. 

Software Upgrades 

For large businesses, software costs are a considerable expense. Software upgrades and purchases are classified as capital expenditures (CapEx) and may be discounted under certain conditions. According to accounting guidelines, some internal R&D costs associated with developing new software must be capitalized and written down over the asset's life. The costs of long-term software, fees paid to other parties who helped with the development of the software, wages for staff members who worked on it, and travel related to it are a few examples. 

Computer Equipment 

If it meets the necessary requirements, technology, and computer equipment, such as servers, laptops, desktop computers, and peripherals, would be considered capital expenditures. The usable life of the equipment must be longer than a year. Additionally, a business may establish an internal materiality threshold to avoid capitalizing any calculator bought and kept for longer than a year. 


For distribution purposes or to provide services to consumers, such as delivery services, businesses frequently require a fleet of cars. Whether they were bought outright or financed with debt, these cars are regarded as capital expenditures. Leasing charges for automobiles, however, are regarded as operational costs. 

Intangible Assets 

Assets for capital expenditures don't always have to be real or physical; they can also be intangible. A company's acquisition of a patent or license might qualify as a capital expense. 

What Capital Expenditure Mean to Investors 

Investors can assess a company's management of firm capital by understanding CapEx. The ability to assess accountability and responsibility for the strategy and implementation of financial decisions that affect an organization's profitability is perhaps of greater importance to investors. Investors can assess how managers are using capital for potential future expansion. 

Investors can determine whether and how a company is acquiring long-term assets by analyzing the information on financial statements, such as PP&E expenditures on a balance sheet and depreciation on an income statement. They can assess whether an asset's worth is rising as a result of additions, which might suggest to investors that a company is using its existing cash flow to fund plans or projects for operations expansion. 

When reviewing a cash flow statement, investors should look for a negative cash flow in the investing area. This indicates that current cash flows are being used for long-term investments

Individual investors are aware that prudent short-term spending management enables them to take advantage of and engage in investment opportunities that will result in long-term wealth growth. For investors, a company's capacity to effectively manage both the risk and return of capital investments as well as short-term operating expenditures has an impact on long-term firm value. A vital skill component that helps investors better comprehend a firm's operations and, more crucially, how those operations may affect shareholder value, is understanding terms like capital expenditures. 

How do capital expenditures affect stock returns? 


As shown above, if there is an increase in the demand for a product then companies are unable to match the supply. This leads to companies increasing their capacities to expand production. An increased supply then leads to increased sales which in turn creates value for its shareholders. 

In the short-term horizon, a company might see margin compression due to investments in CapEx. The same start easing as soon as a company starts production from new factories. This makes that company value accretive for its shareholders in the medium to long term. 

How reliable is CapEx growth as a predictor of a stock’s future returns? 

Let’s assume we define CapEx growth as the increase in net fixed assets. We then correlate this increase in CapEx as a percentage of total assets with the corresponding stock returns after one year.  

Experts discovered that listed companies that make significant capital investments typically have poorer stock returns in the future. 

This implies that the likelihood that a company may experience negative stock returns after a year increase with the size of the capital expenditure it makes. 

Why do capital investments, which are meant to boost earnings, often result in poorer stock returns? 

Always keep in mind that every business has a minimum rate of return that it expects from each endeavor. This return, also known as the hurdle rate, is an indication of the company's potential cost in the current risk climate. 

An organization will need a high internal rate of return (IRR), which can cover its hurdle rate if a project is hazardous. By ensuring that the present value of a project's cash flows can more than cover its initial investment outlay, it can also take the form of net present value, often known as the NPV. 

The risks associated with a company's CapEx include the possibility that it won't create enough returns to achieve its hurdle rate. The risk grows with CapEx size since bigger CapEx takes longer for a company to recover its investment, increasing the likelihood that a positive NPV or IRR will not be realized.  

As a result, since the market factored uncertainty into share prices, larger risks result in poorer stock returns. Low market confidence could potentially be the cause of the negative link between CapEx and stock returns. 

For instance, if shareholders believe management is mismanaging the company's funds by excessively allocating its resources, which may not always be in their best interests, the share price may decline as a result of the capital investment. 

Similarly, investors could not agree with management's decision to move through with particular projects. By overestimating its rates of return, management could unintentionally take on initiatives that have a negative NPV. 

Keep in mind that ventures with negative NPV don't always end in losses. An investment can bring in money for the business and perhaps increase overall profits. Simply said, given the project's hurdle rate, the present value of the increased earnings does not support the company's capital investments, which lowers shareholder value. 

While capital expenditures may undoubtedly boost a company's profits potential, the return on capital should be our primary concern because only positive NPV capital expenditures can support sustained share price growth. 

Summary of CapEx (Capital Expenditures) 

Capital expenditures typically entail a substantial outlay of funds or capital, necessitating the utilization of debt. Investors closely watch how much debt a company is taking on to make sure the money is being used properly because capital expenditures are pricey. 

Poorly planned or carried-out capital expenditures might potentially result in future financial issues. For instance, if a company's management team invests in cutting-edge technology that quickly becomes outdated, the business may be saddled with loan payments for years without seeing much return on the asset. 

Some industries require more capital than others, like the oil (see Oil forecast and price predictions) and gas (see Natural Gas forecast and price predictions) sectors where businesses must purchase drilling equipment. Investors should therefore compare a company's capital expenditures to those of other businesses operating in the same industry. 

Free resources 

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Capital expenditure - Wikipedia 
Capital Expenditure (Capex) - Guide, Examples of Capital Investment ( 
Capital Expenditure (CapEx) Definition, Formula, and Examples ( 
What Is Capital Expenditure (CapEx)? ( 

FAQs about CapEx (Capital Expenditures) 

What is an example of CapEx? 

Buildings, cars, land, and machinery development for longer-term usage are a few examples of capital expenditures. These situations entail long-term utilization of all these resources. They are recognized as CapEx when acquired so that the benefits of each can be spread across several reporting periods. 

How are Capital Expenditures reported? 

On the balance sheet, capital expenditures are shown as assets. If the asset was obtained outright, debt if it was financed, or equity if it was acquired through an exchange for ownership rights, the initial journal entry to record its acquisition may be offset. 

Capital expenditures are depreciated as they are used. Both the income statement and the balance sheet include depreciation information. Depreciation is listed as a cost on the income statement and is sometimes divided into distinct categories of capital expenditure depreciation. Depreciation is shown as a counter asset on the balance sheet, lowering the original asset's net asset value. 

CapEx vs OpeX: what is the difference between Capital Expenditures and Operating Expenditures? 

Larger, frequently one-off acquisitions of fixed assets that are meant to be used for a long time are known as capital expenditures. A new vehicle purchased by a firm for its fleet is seen as a capital investment. 

Operating expenses, which support business operations by securing value in the short term, are smaller, more frequent purchases. The whole value of a full tank of gas, for instance, is likely to be used up quickly if the company goes to fill up the new fleet vehicle. The car's worth will likely remain the same the next year, but the petrol tank will be long gone. Therefore, the price of fuel is seen as an operating expense. 

Is CapEx or OpEx better? 

There is no superior form of expense; instead, there are various ways to categorize costs. It may be more advantageous for a firm to invest in CapEx rather than OpEx if it wants to use its long-term resources as efficiently as possible while striving to invest in the future. Alternatively, a corporation can be better off incurring OpEx if it wishes to preserve money and keep its flexibility. 

CapEx vs OpeX: what are the key similarities? 

Operating and capital expenses are examples of outlays made by the company. Both are often purchased with cash and could undergo a similar purchasing process. This covers bidding, contracting, legal approval, coordinating payment, and receiving the item purchased. 

Though in distinct ways, CapEx and OpEx both lower a company's net profitability. OpEx is instantly expensed, whereas CapEx is depreciated. 

Companies can also make comparable plans for both sorts of spending. Each category of cost may have its own budget, forecast, long-term plan, and financial manager to oversee the planning and reporting of each, even though they may be tracked separately internally. 

CapEx vs OpeX: what are the key differences? 

Major purchases that will be used for a longer length of time than the present accounting period are referred to as capital expenditures. Operating costs are the ongoing costs necessary to keep a business afloat. Each is handled differently due to its unique characteristics. 

OpEx are temporary costs that are usually paid for during the accounting period in which they were purchased. Accordingly, OpEx is more frequently paid for during the time it is purchased. CapEx may be paid for in the moment it is obtained, but if it is associated with a development project, it may also be incurred over time. For instance, the construction of a new warehouse might result in 1,000 transactions over the course of six months, all of which are collectively considered CapEx. 

Since CapEx is recorded on the balance sheet and OpEx is recorded on the income statement, they are reported in separate ways. This is because of how differently they regard accounting. Additionally, there are differences in how the expense is translated into an expense. While OpEx is not typically linked to depreciation and accumulated depreciation accounts, CapEx frequently is. 

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