What is WACC and How to Calculate It?

6 mins read
Discover the Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC), a pivotal metric for financial decision-making. Understand its calculation, applications, limitations, and how it influences investment choices.


When it comes to running businesses, financing is a crucial consideration. Companies commonly rely on a combination of equity and debt to fuel their operations, creating a delicate balance between ownership and borrowing. Equity involves selling preferred and common stock, while debt includes issuing bonds or securing loans. To assess a company’s viability, potential investors closely examine its expenditures and revenue. The Weighted Average Cost of Capital, or WACC, is a vital metric aiding this assessment. This metric acts as a compass guiding investors through the intricate landscape of a company’s financial structure.

In this blog, we will explore WACC, its meaning, significance, and calculation through the WACC formula, providing insights into its practical application.

What Is the Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC)?

Weighted Average Cost of Capital represents a crucial financial metric that gauges a company’s overall cost when obtaining funds to operate and expand its business. This metric considers various sources of capital, such as equity and debt, and combines their respective costs proportionately based on their presence in the company’s funding structure. In simpler terms, WACC serves as a blended measure of the expense a company bears to secure the money it needs to function effectively. By incorporating both the cost of debt and the returns expected by shareholders, WACC provides a comprehensive view of a company’s financial obligations, influencing strategic decisions related to investments, growth, and capital allocation.

WACC Formula and Calculation

The weighted average cost of capital formula combines different components to assess a company’s profitability and financial viability. The WACC formula is as follows:

WACC= (V/E ×Re)+ (VD ×Rd×(1−Tc)


  • E stands for the Market Value of the firm’s Equity,
  • D represents the Market Value of the firm’s Debt,
  • V is the total Market Value of the firm’s Capital Structure (i.e., V=E+D),
  • Re denotes the Cost of Equity,
  • Rd signifies the Cost of Debt,
  • Tc represents the Corporate Tax Rate.

In this formula, E/V and D/V represent the proportions of equity-based and debt-based financing, respectively, in the firm’s capital structure. The WACC is determined by multiplying the cost of each capital source (equity and debt) by its corresponding weight and then summing up these weighted costs. You can further break down the WACC formula into two distinct terms:

  • (V/E ×Re)

This component reflects the weighted cost of equity capital. It accounts for the return required by equity investors based on the proportion of equity financing in the company’s capital structure.

  • (VD ×Rd×(1−Tc))

This term represents the weighted cost of debt capital. It incorporates the after-tax cost of debt, considering the corporate tax rate Tc. The tax shield aspect (1−Tc) reduces the effective cost of debt, as interest expenses are tax-deductible.

Calculating WACC in Excel

Calculating the weighted average cost of capital using Excel is a straightforward process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to navigating the WACC calculation:

1. Gather Key Data

Begin by collecting essential financial information for the company, including its balance sheet, the market value of equity, and debt. You’ll also need details on dividends, the current market value of the stock, and the prevailing interest rate for loans.

2. Calculate Debt-to-Equity Ratio

Divide the total debt and equity by their sum to find their respective proportions within the company’s capital structure. This calculation provides a clear picture of how much of the company’s funding comes from debt and equity.

3. Determine the Cost of Equity

Compute the cost of equity by dividing the company’s dividends per share by the stock’s current market value. If you expect the company to grow, factor in the dividend growth rate.

4. Calculate the Proportional Cost of Equity

Compute the product of the equity proportion (calculated in Step 2) and the cost of equity (determined in Step 3). It reveals the proportionate cost of equity within the company’s overall capital makeup.

5. Find the Cost of Debt

Identify the prevailing interest rate that lenders demand providing loans to the company. This rate reflects the cost of borrowing funds.

6. Identify Company’s Tax Rate

Determine the company’s tax rate, which one can find in previous annual reports or up-to-date tax tables.

7. Compute Proportional Cost of Debt

Multiply the proportion of debt (calculated in Step 2) by the cost of debt (determined in Step 5). Then, multiply this result by (1 – tax rate). It yields the company’s proportional cost of debt.

8. Calculate WACC

Add the proportional cost of equity (Step 4) and the proportional cost of debt (Step 7) together. This addition will give you the company’s Weighted Average Cost of Capital, a valuable measure used to evaluate its financial efficiency.

Who Uses WACC?

The weighted average cost of capital formula finds practical application in various domains. Here are two key scenarios of WACC’s prominent utilisation:

  • Investment Analysis

Securities analysts use WACC to assess investment opportunities. By applying WACC as a discount rate to future cash flows, they determine the net present value of a business, aiding investment decisions.

  • Internal Decision-Making

Within a company, the finance team employs WACC as a benchmark. It helps them decide whether to proceed with projects or acquisitions. You can explore other options if an investment’s return is lower than the company’s WACC.

WACC vs Required Rate of Return (RRR)

While WACC and Required Rate of Return (RRR) gauge the attractiveness of an investment, they differ in the following key aspects: 

  • What They Look At

The Weighted Average Cost of Capital looks at a company’s overall financial setup, considering how it gets money from investors and borrows. It tells us the average return expected by everyone involved. On the other hand, the Required Rate of Return is more focused on what a single investor wants. It sets the minimum profit they need from a specific project or investment.

  • How They’re Figured Out

Computed through a meticulous formula, WACC is merging equity and debt costs while considering their respective proportions in the company’s funding arrangement. On the other hand, RRR calculation methods can vary. One method involves the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), which considers a stock’s market volatility (beta) to estimate the expected shareholder return.

Limitations of WACC

While WACC can provide valuable insights into a company, it’s important to consider the following limitations of this formula: 

  • Complex to Calculate

Calculating WACC can be tricky if you’re unfamiliar with all the parts. More debt in a company means higher WACC. Also, if a company has different types of debt with different interest rates, it gets even more complicated. There are many things that go into calculating WACC, like interest rates and taxes, and they can change based on the economy.

  • Not Good for Risky Projects

WACC might not be the best choice for deciding on very risky projects. When a project is risky, the cost of capital goes up. In cases like this, investors might use something else called adjusted present value (APV) instead of WACC.

Example of How to Use WACC

To illustrate the practical application of the weighted average cost of capital formula, let’s take the case of a hypothetical Indian manufacturer named ABC Innovations.

  • Company Details

ABC Innovations has a total financing of Rs. 50,00,000 (5 million rupees). Its debt’s book value and market value are Rs. 10,00,000 (1 million rupees), while the market value of its equity is Rs. 40,00,000 (4 million rupees).

  • Calculating the Weighted Cost of Equity

The cost of equity, which represents the return shareholders demand, is 10%. First, we find the equity proportion (E/V) by dividing the equity value by the total financing, resulting in 0.8 (Rs. 40,00,000 / Rs. 50,00,000). Multiplying this by the cost of equity (0.10), we get 0.08, which is the weighted cost of equity.

  • Calculating the Weighted Cost of Debt

To find the weighted cost of debt, we determine the debt proportion (D/V) by dividing the debt value by the total capital, giving us 0.2 (Rs. 10,00,000 / Rs. 50,00,000). Multiplying this by the company’s cost of debt, assumed to be 5%, we get 0.01. Then, we multiply this by (1 – tax rate), which is 0.75 (assuming a tax rate of 25%). It yields a weighted cost of debt of 0.0075.

  • Calculating WACC

Finally, we add the weighted cost of equity (0.08) and the weighted cost of debt (0.0075) to get the WACC. It equals 0.0875, or 8.75% (0.08 + 0.0075).

In this example, the computed WACC of 8.75% represents ABC Innovations’ average cost to attract investors. It signifies the return they can anticipate based on the company’s financial strength and risk compared to other investment opportunities.


Weighted Average Cost of Capital serves as a vital tool, offering insights into fund-raising costs, investment evaluations, and sound financial choices. By considering equity and debt, WACC presents a holistic financial picture, determining the necessary return to satisfy all stakeholders. While its formula may seem straightforward, its accurate calculation and interpretation require careful consideration of various elements. 

Now that you are well versed with WACC’s meaning, consider taking the next step in your financial journey by opening a Demat Account with Angel One.


What is the WACC formula?

The Weighted Average Cost of Capital formula is a financial metric that calculates a company’s overall cost of raising funds from both equity and debt sources.

How is WACC calculated?

You can calculate WACC by combining the weighted equity and debt capital costs. The formula involves:

  • Multiplying the cost of equity by its proportion.
  • Adding it to the product of the cost of debt.
  • Debt proportion.
  • The tax-adjusted factor.

What challenges might arise when calculating WACC?

Accurate WACC calculation can be complex due to factors like varying costs of equity and debt. Inputs such as interest and tax rates are subject to market fluctuations, impacting the final WACC value.

Can WACC be used for evaluating risky projects?

While WACC is a valuable metric, it may not suit high-risk projects due to its nature of incorporating the company’s overall cost of capital. Investors often use adjusted present value (APV) for riskier ventures as it doesn’t rely on WACC.