Home Learn CapEx (Capital Expenditure) – Meaning, Formula, Types & Examples

CapEx (Capital Expenditure) – Meaning, Formula, Types & Examples

CapEx (Capital Expenditure) – Meaning, Formula, Types & Examples
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As companies strive for growth, efficiency, and competitive advantage, they recognize the need for strategic investments in long-term assets and projects. These are fueled by a fund called Capital Expenditure(CapEx). Serving as a strategic tool that enables companies to lay a foundation for sustainable growth, capital expenditure is still unknown to many. Therefore, let’s have a look at the overall CapEx landscape. Shall we? 

Let us start by learning more about what is a capital expenditure.

What is Capital Expenditure Meaning? 

Capital Expenditure, commonly referred to as Capex, is a critical aspect of financial management for businesses. In simple terms, CapEx is the fund used by a company to acquire, upgrade, and maintain its physical assets like buildings, vehicles, machinery, technology, plants, and more. 

An example of capital expenditure on fixed assets is repairing a roof (if it extends its useful life), purchasing equipment, or building a new factory. The purpose of this type of expenditure is to expand the scope of a company’s operations or to add some future economic benefit.

However, in contrast to CapEX, there are other day-to-day short-term expenses called Operating Expenses (OpEx). Now that we know what are capital expenditures, let us look at how to calculate capital expenditure.

What is CapEx Formula?

The Capital Expenditure formula for calculating the capital expenditure of a company is as follows:

CapEx = ΔPP&E + Current Depreciation


​CapEx=Capital expenditures

ΔPP&E=Change in property, plant, and equipment

​Alternative CapEx Formula 

When a company’s free cash flow to equity or FCFE, Debt Ratio, Depreciation, and Earnings Per Share(EPS) are known then use this alternative CapEx formula: 

FCFE = Earnings per Share-(CapEx-Depreciation) x (1- Debt Ratio) – ΔNet capital x (1- Debt Ratio)

Example Demonstrating CapEx Formula

A manufacturing company in India invested in upgrading its machinery and facilities. The initial value of property, plant, and equipment (PP&E) was Rs. 10,00,000. After the upgrades, the new value of PP&E was Rs. 12,00,000. Additionally, the company’s current depreciation expense was Rs. 50,000.

To calculate the capital expenditures (CapEx), use the formula:

CapEx = ΔPP&E + Current Depreciation

(Rs. 12,00,000 – Rs. 10,00,000) + Rs. 50,000

2,00,000 + 50,000

CapEx = Rs. 2,50,000

So, the company’s capital expenditures for the upgrades were Rs. 2,50,000.

What are the Characteristics of Capital Expenditure? (CapEx)

The following are some of the characteristics of CapEx:


It’s crucial to note that the value of a fixed asset decreases over time due to depreciation. This decline in value persists throughout the asset’s lifespan, resulting in an annual reduction in its worth.

Measurement Challenges

Determining, computing, and accounting for capital expenses and their depreciation value can pose difficulties.

Long-Term Commitments

Capital Spending associated with fixed assets represent long-term investments, with their advantages and costs spread out over multiple years.

How to Calculate CapEx Using the Formula?

To calculate Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) using the formula, you can follow these steps:

  • Determine the Initial Cost of the Asset or Project: This includes the purchase price or the cost of acquiring the asset. For example, if you are purchasing machinery for ₹10,00,000, this would be the initial cost (PPE).
  • Identify any additional capital expenses (AC): These are costs incurred beyond the initial purchase price that are directly related to the acquisition or improvement of the asset. Examples include installation costs, legal fees, transportation fees, or any other expenses directly associated with the purchase. Add up all these additional costs.
  • Estimate the Salvage Value (SC): Salvage value is the estimated residual value of the asset at the end of its useful life. It represents the value the asset will hold after depreciation or obsolescence. Estimate the salvage value as accurately as possible.
  • Plug the Values into the CAPEX Formula: Use the formula CAPEX = PPE + AC – SC. Substitute the values of the initial cost (PPE), additional capital expenses (AC), and salvage value (SC) into the formula.
  • Calculate the Result: Add the initial cost and additional capital expenses, then subtract the salvage value. The resulting value will be your calculated Capital Expenditure (CAPEX).

What is Capital Expenditure in Accounting?

Capital expenditure is recorded on a company’s balance sheet as fixed assets generally have a depreciated factor. Meaning that every year their value reduces. This depreciation cost is then recorded on the income statement as an expense and reduces the overall profit of the year. Unlike CapEx, RevEx, or revenue expenditure, is immediately expensed and reflected on the income statement.

For example, 

Let’s assume a company called XYZ Ltd. is planning to invest in new manufacturing equipment for its factory. The cost of the equipment is Rs. 10,00,000. Since the new equipment is a fixed asset, its depreciated value is Rs. 10,00,000. 

Please note that capital expenses do affect the income statement of the company. In any case, it does not happen during their purchase year, but rather in the following years according to their depreciation value.

Now that we have observed capital expenditure examples, let us see what is capital expenditure budgeting. 

What is Capital Expenditure Budgeting?

Well, who doesn’t want to be a smart spender?

Capital expenditure budgeting is the art of deciding how to spend your company’s money wisely. Basically, it is the process of evaluating potential long-term investment opportunities to determine which ones will generate the most profit for a business.

When creating a budget, organizations typically distinguish between operating expenses and capital expenditures. Operating expenses (OpEx) include day-to-day costs such as salaries, utilities, and maintenance, while CapEx investment is specifically designated for capital assets.

However, some of the well-known techniques and methods for capital budgeting are internal rate of return (IRR), net asset value (NAV), payback period, profitability index (PI), capital rationing, and more.

What is the Influence of Capital Expenditures on Free Cash Flow and Valuation?

Free Cash Flow holds a pivotal role in corporate finance, with analysts frequently assessing a company’s cash generation capacity, deeming it a primary means of enhancing shareholder value.

One straightforward approach to compute Free Cash Flow (FCF) is as follows:

FCF = Cash Generated from Operations – Capital Expenditures

In financial modeling and valuation, analysts employ Free Cash Flow calculations within a Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model to ascertain the business’s net present value (NPV). This aids in evaluating the company’s overall financial health and investment potential.

What are the Types of Capital Expenditure?

In a broader sense, there are five major types of capital expenditure. Including buildings, land, property, vehicles, computer hardware, buying new machinery or adding new technology, and software infrastructure.

Types of capital expenditure (CapEx)

Example of Capital Expenditure (CapEx)

According to our previous discussion, capital expenditure reported under on the Cash Flow statement. 

Therefore, take a look at this example of a company, XYZ Ltd to gain a better idea about the treatment of CAPEX in a firm’s cash flow statement.

Cash Flow CategoryAmount (in Rs)
Cash Flow from Operating Activities1,00,000
Cash Flow from Investing Activities(50,000)
Capital Expenditure(40,000)
Proceeds from the Sale of Property, Plant, and Equipment10,000
Cash Flow from Financing Activities20,000
Net Increase in Cash and Cash Equivalents30,000

Now that we have observed examples of Capital Expenditure, let us check out differences between CapEx vs OpEx.

CapEx vs. Operating Expenses (OpEx)

Capital Expenditure should not be confused with Operating Expenses(OpEx). However, to simplify these terms, let’s have  a look at this table. 

FeatureCapital Expenditure (CapEx)Operating Expense (OpEx)
DefinitionPurchases that a business makes as an investmentExpenses that a business incurs as a result of performing its normal business operations
ExamplesLand, buildings, equipment, machinery, vehicles, software, intellectual propertyEmployee salaries, rent, utilities, marketing, insurance, repairs, and maintenance
Useful lifeLong-term (typically more than one year)Short-term (typically one year or less)
Tax treatmentNon-deductable from income Deductible from income
Impact on cash flowReduces cash flow immediatelyReduces cash flow gradually
Impact on financial statementsReported on the balance sheetReported on the income statement
Percentage of CapExTypically 10-20%Typically 80-90%

Now that we have explored the differences between CapEx and OpEx, let us observe a few effective budgeting strategies.

Effective Capital Expenditure Budgeting Strategies

Managing large-scale capital projects with significant capital expenditures demands effective handling to prevent costly overruns. With careful planning, suitable tools, and adept project management, organizations can ensure efficient capital expenditure budgeting. Discover key strategies below.

Establish a Strong Foundation

Before initiating capital expenditure budgets, comprehensive preparation is imperative to avoid budgetary excesses. Begin by delineating the project’s scope, setting realistic timelines, and obtaining approval. Determine the internal resources required, encompassing manpower, materials, finances, and services. Detailed planning at this stage enhances budget accuracy.

Embrace Long-Term Thinking

At the project’s outset, decide whether to finance the capital asset through debt or existing funds. Funding allocation influences the acquisition timeline. Saving implies delayed asset acquisition, while borrowing increases debt and potential future borrowing constraints. The choice varies based on project specifics.

Implement Robust Budgeting Software

Select reliable and practical budgeting software from project inception. The software choice depends on project scale, program speed, and error risk, aligning with project requirements.

Collect Precise Data

Accurate data collection is paramount for efficient capital project management. Reliable information underpins realistic budget creation and valuable report generation.

Optimal Detail Levels

Balancing detail levels is vital. Excessive detail can lead to prolonged information gathering, rendering budgets obsolete. Conversely, inadequate detail results in vague budgets. Striking the right balance is key.

Establish Clear Policies

Given the multifaceted nature of managing capital total expenditures in large organizations, clarity is essential. Instituting clear policies ensures adherence, fostering budget adherence across departments, teams, and regions.

What are the Benefits of Capital Expenditure? 

There are many benefits to CapEx, including:

  • Boosted Productivity: Investing in new equipment and facilities can make businesses more productive, resulting in higher output and profits.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Capital expenditure can improve efficiency, leading to reduced costs and better financial performance.
  • Innovation and Growth: Capital expenditure can be utilized to develop new products and services, enabling businesses to expand their market presence and increase revenue.
  • Added Shareholder Value: Capital outlays expenditure has the potential to increase shareholder value by improving the company’s financial performance and outlook for future growth.

CapEx Interpretation: Negative vs Positive CapEx

Here’s a concise table summarizing the differences between Positive and Negative CapEx

Aspects of DifferencePositive CapExNegative CapEx
DefinitionExpenditures expected to generate future cash flows or increase asset value.Expenditures that do not generate future cash flows or asset value.
PurposeAims for long-term benefits like increased capacity, efficiency, or competitiveness.Mainly for asset maintenance or regulatory compliance.
ExamplesInvesting in technology, facility expansion, new product development.Repairs, maintenance, environmental compliance investments.
Accounting TreatmentRecorded on the balance sheet as a long-term asset, depreciated over its useful life.Treated as an expense on the income statement in the year incurred, impacting short-term profitability.

What are the Challenges of Capital Expenditure? 

Capital expenditure (CapEx) is a significant investment for businesses, and there are a number of challenges that can arise when making these decisions. Some of the most common challenges include:

  • Uncertainty: When businesses make a CapEx decision, they’re essentially taking a gamble on the future. However, it’s challenging to predict how a particular investment will perform due to the inherent uncertainty. 
  • Long-Term Nature: CapEx projects often require a long-term commitment, as they can last for many years. This can be a challenge, especially if the business’s needs or the market changes in the meantime.
  • High Cost: CapEx projects can be quite expensive, and businesses must ensure they have the financial resources to support the investment. A lack of cash can force a business to take on debt, which can increase the project’s cost. 
  • Complexity: CapEx projects can be intricate, requiring a deep understanding of the process to ensure success. It involves coordination among various departments, making it difficult to synchronize everyone’s efforts.

To Wrap It Up…

In general, capital expenditure(CapEx) is a good sign for a company. It shows that the company is investing in its future and that it is confident in its ability to generate cash flow in the long term. However, it is important to note that capital expenditure can also be a drain on a company’s cash flow in the short term.

Thus, before making significant investments in capital assets, it is essential to conduct thorough research and perform a cost-benefit analysis for both the short and long term. This diligent approach safeguards against potential losses and sets the stage for future business expansion and success.


1. What is the capital expenditures definition?

Capital Expenditure or CapEx is the money spent by a company to build and maintain its physical fixed assets like machinery, building, vehicles, hardware, and software.

2. Is CapEx tax deductible?

Capital expenditures are not directly tax-deductible. However, it can reduce the company’s taxes indirectly by depreciation factor.

3. How are capital expenses different from operating expenses?

Operating expenses (OPEX) include day-to-day costs such as salaries, utilities, and maintenance, while CAPEX is specifically designated for capital assets.

4. Is the cost of raw materials a capital expense?

The cost of raw materials is typically considered an operating expense(OpEx), which is deducted from revenue on the income statement.

5. What Is an example of capital expenditure (CapEx)?

When a company adds a new vehicle to its fleet, then this purchase comes under capital expenditure (CapEx). Since the value of this fixed asset is likely to decrease after the following year of purchase.

6. Is a capital expenditure an asset?

Capital expenditures are recorded as assets, not immediate expenses.They are classified as fixed assets and their expense is allocated over the asset’s useful life via depreciation.

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