The formulas, tricks and trade secrets of Private Equity

Capex Capital Expenditure

Sample Chapter

In a perfect world, the best way to calculate CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) is by gaining full access to a company’s financial accounts, its financial staff and its executives. With this combination, you’ll be able to paint a good picture of the CAPEX necessary to keep the business running at its current levels of cash flow. However, often we must value companies prior to conducting formal due diligence and in these cases, we typically only have access to standard financial statements. This post discusses calculating CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) with access only to these statements.

A few basics first:

  • CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) is important because it can significantly influence the value of a business
  • We can classify CAPEX as either growth or maintenance, but we’re mostly interested in maintenance CAPEX
  • Maintenance CAPEX refers to the CAPEX required to keep a business running at current cash flow levels
  • Growth CAPEX refers to CAPEX required to grow the business beyond typical cash flows (e.g. acquisitions)
  • Financial statements do not have a line item titled maintenance CAPEX
  • And, no formula exists to calculate maintenance CAPEX from the financial statements
  • Therefore, maintenance CAPEX calculations are mostly estimates

The first place you may think of looking for data to calculate CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) is the cash flow statement (within the investment section). There may be a line item for Investments in Equipment (or similar), which defines cash flow related to investments in assets. While this essentially refers to CAPEX, it will likely include CAPEX related to acquisitions and other growth campaigns. The reason we only want maintenance CAPEX is because we’re valuing the business based on its current state and current cash flows.

The second place you may look for evidence is the depreciation line on the P&L statement. Many people use this as a proxy for CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) and cite its smoothing effect as an additional advantage (I wrote about this in a recent post on EBITDA vs. EBIT). However, this smoothing, which accounts for many years, may reflect the business as a different beast because it is backward looking. Additionally, depreciation doesn’t account for asset price inflation, which is significant for certain businesses.

So what else can we refer to? Short answer… nothing. In my opinion, the ideal method for calculating CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) from the financial statements is to analyse investing cash flows and depreciation over various years to find trends and arrive at an informed estimate. [EDIT] Also check the supplemental notes for more granular information on cash flows and depreciation (thanks, Scott). Here are a few steps I normally follow:

  1. Look at the Investment in Equipment line on the cash flow statement, remove acquisition CAPEX, but make sure to add back an amount that will maintain the newly acquired assets. Look at previous years too; you may find a year without growth and with a similar level of profit, hence, evidence of maintenance CAPEX levels.
  2. Look at the Depreciation section of the P&L, increase the amount for inflation, and adjust for structural changes such as acquisitions or major growth into other areas. Again, compare with previous years to find (and understand) abnormalities.
  3. Compare the above figures over various years to establish a trend and to help make inferences about what CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) should be in future years. Avoid suggestions from management that maintenance CAPEX is some fraction of what you’ve calculated; often managers underestimate CAPEX (edit: managers always underestimate CAPEX).
  4. Compare your CAPEX to revenue (and earnings) ratios of listed businesses in the same industry. One would expect similar businesses to spend similar amounts on CAPEX to maintain assets and uphold regular levels of service.
  5. Test your calculated figures with management and ask them for specific forecasts on large items. You may find cyclical items that run on a cycle not apparent from only 3-5 years of historic financials. Again, overestimate and make sure the investment is viable on those figures because your overestimation will likely become an underestimation.

Calculating maintenance CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) can be time consuming and frustrating, but it is imperative that you understand it in detail in valuing a business. I’ve seen many investments fall short of expectations because private equiteers took management CAPEX forecasts as gospel.

Capital expenditures are expenses on items that create future benefit. They’re opposed to operational expenditure, which refers to expenses consumed by the operations of the business. The big deal about CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) in private equity is that its often overlooked when valuing companies. Operational expenditures appear in various definitive places throughout the financial statements, whereas CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) must be hunted down and calculated.

A company that looks valuable on its face may in fact be worth nothing because the CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) required to sustain business operations is simply more than the value of the cash flows themselves. Airlines are a good example where on the P&L they may look fine, but don’t forget the hundreds of millions of dollars used to buy the planes.

Capital expenditures (CAPEX) are expenditures creating approaching benefits. A basic bulk is incurred if a business spends money either to buy anchored assets or to add to the bulk of an absolute anchored asset with a advantageous activity that extends above the taxable year. CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) are acclimated by a aggregation to admission or advancement concrete assets such as equipment, property, or automated buildings. In accounting, a basic bulk is added to an asset annual (capitalized), appropriately accretion the asset’s base (the bulk or bulk of an asset as adapted for tax purposes). CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) is frequently begin on the banknote breeze account as Investment in Plant Acreage and Accessories capital expenditure or something agnate in the Investing subsection.

In agreement of accounting, an bulk is advised to be a basic bulk if the asset is a anew purchased basic asset or an investment that improves the advantageous activity of an absolute basic asset. If an bulk is a basic expenditure, it needs to be capitalized; this requires the aggregation to advance the bulk of the capital expenditure bulk over the advantageous activity of the asset. If, however, the bulk is one that maintains the asset at its accepted condition, the bulk is deducted absolutely in the year of the expense.

As this bulk is an investment it is not anon apparent in the P & L. The bulk of banknote bulk is apparent in the banknote breeze account and the furnishings of CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) acutely appearance on the antithesis sheet. Most companies as well animadversion on CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) in their results.

The best way to account capital expenditures is by accepting abounding admission to a company’s banking accounts, its banking agents and its executives. With this combination, you’ll be able to acrylic a acceptable account of the CAPEX all-important to accumulate the business active at its accepted levels of banknote flow. However, generally we accept to bulk companies above-mentioned to administering academic due activity and in these cases, we about alone accept admission to accepted banking statements. This column discusses artful CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) with admission alone to these statements

It can be difficult to analyze amid aliment CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) (to accumulate absolute operations traveling at their accepted levels) and investment fabricated to drive approaching growth. Investors may be able to infer a assertive bulk from comments and by searching at a company’s affairs and clue record. CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) that is continuously top which has not advance to top advance is acceptable to be aliment CAPEX (Capital Expenditure).

Apparent profits or operating banknote flows are not in fact authoritative shareholders wealthier if top aliment CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) requirements absorb up the money. This is why investors should attending at measures such as capital expenditure banknote flow.

High basic bulk is not necessarily a problem: it could be investment that will drive amoebic growth. Of advance not all CAPEX that is claimed to be in advance will in fact actualize growth, so administration claims charge to be looked at a little sceptically.

Conversely, companies can addition abbreviate appellation banknote conversion, by acid CAPEX (Capital Expenditure). This may even addition average appellation profits by abbreviation depreciation. This is usually a assurance of agitation as it implies a low advance or crumbling business.

As made public higher than, maintenance CAPEX is that the cash that’s needed to take care of or replace assets. Generally high CAPEX companies like oil drillers are needed to service its rigs and replace components simply to remain in business. Free money Flow tries to differentiate between growth and maintenance however it’s rare for corporations to disclose what’s used for maintenance and growth in their statements, neither is it needed. This makes finding maintenance CAPEX a tough task. Before i am going on, let me say that finding maintenance CAPEX is unquestionably an art. there’s no strict formula or methodology and that i have nevertheless to return across a firm method thus far.

Capital expenditures are expenditures making future advantages. A capital expenditure is incurred when a business spends cash either to shop for fastened assets or to feature to the worth of an existing fastened asset with a helpful life that extends beyond the taxable year. CAPEX are utilized by a corporation to accumulate or upgrade physical assets like equipment, property, or buildings. In accounting, capital expenditure is added to an asset account (“capitalized”), so increasing the asset’s basis (the value or price of an asset as adjusted for tax purposes). CAPEX is often found on the money flow statement as “Investment in Plant Property and Equipment” or one thing similar within the Investing subsection.

An ongoing question of the accounting of any company is whether or not sure expenses ought to be capitalized or expensed. prices that are expensed in an exceedingly specific month merely seem on the plan as a price that was incurred that month. prices that are capitalized, are amortized over many years. Capitalized expenditure shows on the balance sheet. Most standard business expenses are clearly either expensable or capitalizable, however some expenses can be treated either approach, consistent with the preference of the corporate. Capitalized interest if applicable is additionally detached over the lifetime of the asset.

Capital expenditure (CAPEX) refers to the money a business spends buying or upgrading fastened assets for future business profit. Capital expenditure will embody cash spent for brand new property which will be resold, or which could be kept for one or additional years. CAPEX conjointly includes cash spent to enhance property (or inventory) that you simply already own. underneath international reporting standards, property is taken into account to be improved as long as the money you pay will increase or restores an item’s price, prolongs its helpful life, or permits the item to be used for a brand new purpose.

Read all of this and more in the 200+ page book. See below.

Get the eBook Here

200+ page eBook exploring the formulas, tricks and trade secrets of Private Equity.
Only $39

Secure payment via Stripe