What Is a Cost of Equity?

What Is a Cost of Equity?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

The cost of equity is the return a firm theoretically pays to its equity investors, i.e., shareholders, to compensate for the risk they undertake by investing their capital. Firms need to offer a return on equity that attends to the relative level of risk associated with their business, which is identified by using models like the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM). This return is how the market dictates the price of the cost of equity.

Related Questions

1. How is the cost of equity calculated?

The cost of equity is calculated using the formula required return = risk-free rate + beta*(market return – risk-free rate). The result measures the compensation the market demands in exchange for owning the asset and bearing the risk.

2. Why is cost of equity higher than the cost of debt?

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The cost of equity is typically higher than the cost of debt because equity investors undertake a greater risk than debt holders. If a company goes bankrupt, it first pays its debt holders, and anything left over is then distributed to equity investors.

3. What does a higher cost of equity signify?

A higher cost of equity signifies that an investor requires a higher rate of return to invest in a business due to perceived risk. This could be a signal that the market sees the company as riskier.

4. How can a company reduce its cost of equity?

A company can reduce its cost of equity by minimizing risk. This could be achieved through a diversified business model, strong governance, financial health, or consistent profitability.

5. Can the cost of equity be negative?

Historically, the cost of equity cannot be negative because investors would not invest in a company if they expected to lose money. However, theoretically, in extreme market conditions, it could be possible but highly unlikely.