WACC, Cost of Equity, and Cost of Debt in a DCF (17:55)

In this WACC and Cost of Equity tutorial, you’ll learn how changes to assumptions in a DCF impact variables like the Cost of Equity, Cost of Debt.

In this WACC and Cost of Equity tutorial, you’ll learn how changes to assumptions in a DCF impact variables like the Cost of Equity, Cost of Debt.

You’ll also learn about WACC (Weighted Average Cost of Capital) – and why it is not always so straightforward to answer these questions in interviews.

Why Do WACC, the Cost of Equity, and the Cost of Debt Matter?

This is a VERY common interview question:

“If a company goes from 10% debt to 30% debt, does its WACC increase or decrease?”

“What if the Risk-Free Rate changes? How is everything else impacted?”

“What if the company is bigger / smaller?”

Plus, you need to use these concepts on the job all the time when valuing companies… these “costs” represent your
opportunity cost from investing in a specific company, and you use them to evaluate that company’s cash flows and determine
how much the company is worth to you.

EX: If you can get a 10% yield by investing in other, similar companies in this market, you’d evaluate this company’s cash flows against that 10% “discount rate”…

…and if this company’s debt, tax rate, or overall size changes, you better know how the discount rate also changes! It could easily change the company’s value to you, the investor.

The Most Important Concept…

Everything is interrelated – in other words, more debt will impact BOTH the equity AND the debt investors!

Why?

Because additional leverage makes the company riskier for everyone involved. The chance of bankruptcy is higher, so the “cost” even to the equity investors increases.

AND: Other variables like the Risk-Free Rate will end up impacting everything, including Cost of Equity and Cost of Debt, because both of them are tied to overall interest rates on “safe” government bonds.

Tricky: Some changes only make an impact when a company actually has debt (changes to the tax rate), and you can’t always predict how the value derived from a DCF will change in response to this.

Changes to the DCF Analysis and the Impact on Cost of Equity, Cost of Debt, WACC, and Implied Value:

Smaller Company:

Cost of Debt, Equity, and WACC are all higher.

Bigger Company:

Cost of Debt, Equity, and WACC are all lower.

* Assuming the same capital structure percentages – if the capital structure is NOT the same, this could go either way.

Emerging Market:

Cost of Debt, Equity, and WACC are all higher.

No Debt to Some Debt:

Cost of Equity and Cost of Debt are higher. WACC is lower at first, but eventually higher.

Some Debt to No Debt:

Cost of Equity and Cost of Debt are lower. It’s impossible to say how WACC changes because it depends on where you are in the “U-shaped curve” – if you’re above the debt % that minimizes WACC, WACC will decrease.

Otherwise, if you’re at that minimum or below it, WACC will increase.

Higher Risk-Free Rate:

Cost of Equity, Debt, and WACC are all higher; they’re all lower with a lower Risk-Free Rate.

Higher Equity Risk Premium and Higher Beta:

Cost of Equity is higher, and so is WACC; Cost of Debt doesn’t change in a predictable way in response to these.

When these are lower, Cost of Equity and WACC are both lower.

Higher Tax Rate:

Cost of Equity, Debt, and WACC are all lower; they’re higher when the tax rate is lower.

** Assumes the company has debt – if it does not, taxes don’t make an impact because there is no tax benefit to interest paid on debt.