choose Variables for a sensitivity analysis, Finance Basics

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You are asked to select three variables for a sensitivity analysis of weighted average cost of capital, what would you choose and why?

  • Weighted average cost of capital is the average of the required return required by each providers of finance. Funds can be provided by common stock holders or debt holders. Common stock holders charge equity rate of return and debt holders charge a debt rate of return.
  • Equity rate of return is calculated using following formula:

Expected return = risk free rate + beta (Market rate minus risk free rate)

Debt holders simplycharge a percentage say 10% per annum.

Weighted average cost of capital is then calculated based on the amount of each equity and debt used in the total capital

  • Now based on the above formulas, the three variables for sensitivity analysis of weighted average cost of capital could be:

(a)    Risk free rate = The risk free rate is the rate paid by US treasury on sovereign bonds. Now this rate may change and change the equity rate of return. Specially during times of crisis, the risk free rate fluctuates as the governments try to reduce the impact of recession on the economy. High risk free rate will lead to high equity rate of return and high weighted average cost of capital and vice versa.

(b)   Market rate - This is generally based on the returns generated by the broad market index such as SNP 500 etc. These may change based on how the index is performing. During boom periods, they generate better returns as compared to bad periods. High market rate will lead to high equity rate of return and high weighted average cost of capital and vice versa.

(c)    General interest cost in the country - This is based on the general interest rate declared by central bank of various countries such as Federal Reserve of USA plus appropriate premium. Central banks lend money to various commercial banks at the general rate of interest and then these commercial banks add suitable market risk premium depending upon on the risk involved in the project. Hence, general rate of interest will lead to higher rate of debt and higher weighted average cost of capital and vice versa.


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