Capital Funding: Definition, How It Works, and 2 Primary Methods

Capital Funding

Investopedia / Jake Shi

What Is Capital Funding?

Capital funding is the money that lenders and equity holders provide to a business for daily and long-term needs. A company's capital funding consists of both debt (bonds) and equity (stock). The business uses this money for operating capital. The bond and equity holders expect to earn a return on their investment in the form of interest, dividends, and stock appreciation.

Understanding Capital Funding

To acquire capital or fixed assets, such as land, buildings, and machinery, businesses usually raise funds through capital funding programs to purchase these assets. There are two primary routes a business can take to access funding: raising capital through stock issuance and raising capital through debt.

Stock Issuance

A company can issue common stock through an initial public offering (IPO) or by issuing additional shares into the capital markets. Either way, the money that is provided by investors that purchase the shares is used to fund capital initiatives. In return for providing capital, investors demand a return on their investment (ROI) which is a cost of equity to a business. The return on investment can usually be provided to stock investors by paying dividends or by effectively managing the company’s resources so as to increase the value of the shares held by these investors.

One drawback for this source of capital funding is that issuing additional funds in the markets dilutes the holdings of existing shareholders as their proportional ownership and voting influence within the company will be reduced.

Debt Issuance

Capital funding can also be acquired by issuing corporate bonds to retail and institutional investors. When companies issue bonds, they are in effect, borrowing from investors who are compensated with semi-annual coupon payments until the bond matures. The coupon rate on a bond represents the cost of debt to the issuing company.

In addition, bond investors may be able to purchase a bond at a discount, and the face value of the bond will be repaid when it matures. For example, an investor who purchases a bond for $910 will receive a payment of $1,000 when the bond matures.

Special Considerations

Capital funding through debt can also be raised by taking out loans from banks or other commercial lending institutions. These loans are recorded as long-term liabilities on a company’s balance sheet and decrease as the loan is gradually paid off. The cost of borrowing the loan is the interest rate that the bank charges the company. The interest payments that the company makes to its lenders are considered an expense on the income statement, which means pre-tax profits will be lower.

While a company is not obligated to make payments to its shareholders, it must fulfill its interest and coupon payment obligations to its bondholders and lenders, making capital funding through debt a more expensive alternative than through equity. However, in the event that a company goes bankrupt and has its assets liquidated, its creditors will be paid off first before shareholders are considered.

There are two key ways a business can access funding: by raising capital through issuing stock and by raising capital through issuing debt.

Cost of Capital Funding

Companies usually run an extensive analysis of the cost of receiving capital through equity, bonds, bank loans, venture capitalist, the sale of assets, and retained earnings. A business may assess its weighted average cost of capital (WACC), which weights each cost of capital funding, to calculate a company’s average cost of capital.

The WACC can be compared to the return on invested capital (ROIC)—that is, the return that a company generates when it converts its capital into capital expenditures. If the ROIC is higher than the WACC, the company will move forward with its capital funding plan. If it’s lower, the business will have to re-evaluate its strategy and re-balance the proportion of needed funds from the various capital sources to decrease its WACC.

Examples of Capital Funding

There are companies that exist for the sole purpose of providing capital funding to businesses. Such a company might specialize in funding a specific category of companies, such as healthcare companies, or a specific type of company, such as assisted living facilities. The capital funding company might also operate to provide only short-term financing and/or long-term financing to a business. These companies, such as venture capitalists, could also choose to focus on funding a certain stage of the business, such as a business that is just starting up.

Key Takeaways

  • Capital funding is the money given to businesses by lenders and equity holders to cover the cost of operations.
  • Businesses take two basic routes to access funding: raising capital through stock issuance and/or through debt.
  • Companies run extensive analysis on the cost of receiving capital funding, and the costs associated with each type of available funding, before deciding to move forward.
Open a New Bank Account
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.