Capital structure refers to the way a company finances its operations and growth by using different sources of funds. It is the combination of long-term debt, short-term debt, common equity and preferred equity that a company uses to fund its operations. The optimal capital structure is the one that balances the costs and benefits of each source of funds to maximize the value of the company.
Factors Influencing Capital Structure
The following are key factors that influence a company's capital structure:
Business Risk: The level of business risk affects the proportion of debt to equity in the capital structure. High-risk businesses prefer to have more equity and less debt, while low-risk businesses have more debt and less equity.
Cost of Capital: The cost of capital is the return expected by the investors. A company's capital structure affects the cost of capital, which in turn affects the value of the company.
Financial Leverage: Financial leverage refers to the use of debt to increase the return on equity. Companies with high financial leverage have more debt and less equity in their capital structure.
Market Conditions: The availability and cost of debt and equity financing is influenced by market conditions. In a bull market, it is easier to raise equity financing, while in a bear market, it is easier to raise debt financing.
Growth Opportunities: Companies with high growth opportunities prefer to have more equity in their capital structure, as equity financing allows them to retain more control over their operations.
Impact of Capital Structure on Companies
The following are the key impacts of capital structure on companies:
Return on Equity (ROE): Capital structure affects the ROE of a company. A higher proportion of debt in the capital structure leads to a higher ROE, but also increases the risk of bankruptcy.
Debt Service: The interest payments on debt are a fixed obligation, and a higher proportion of debt in the capital structure increases the debt service burden.
Financial Flexibility: A higher proportion of debt in the capital structure reduces the financial flexibility of a company, as debt must be serviced before any other obligations.
Stockholder Value: The optimal capital structure maximizes stockholder value by balancing the costs and benefits of each source of funds.
In conclusion, the optimal capital structure is a key factor in the success of a company. It is the result of a careful balance of the various factors that influence the capital structure, including business risk, cost of capital, financial leverage, market conditions and growth opportunities.