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Cost Of Capital vs. Capital Structure — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on October 8, 2023
Cost of Capital is the price a company pays for using funds, either through debt, equity, or a mix. Capital Structure is the combination of various forms of financing used by a company, including debt and equity.
Cost Of Capital vs. Capital Structure — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Cost Of Capital and Capital Structure


Key Differences

The Cost of Capital is fundamentally the rate of return that a company must earn on its project investments to maintain its market value and attract funds. In contrast, Capital Structure refers to the mix of funding sources (debt, equity, etc.) a company uses to finance its operations and growth.
Cost of Capital includes the cost of debt and the cost of equity. It acts as a financial tool to evaluate new projects of the company. Whereas Capital Structure reveals how the corporation finances its overall operations and growth by using different sources of funds.
Cost of Capital often acts as a hurdle rate for an investment to proceed. On the other side, Capital Structure influences the risk and value of the firm by affecting its WACC (Weighted Average Cost of Capital).
A company minimizes its Cost of Capital to provide an efficient financial structure. Meanwhile, a well-balanced Capital Structure maximizes the market value of the company.
Investors utilize Cost of Capital to assess investment options and calculate risks. Conversely, Capital Structure gives an inside look at a company’s financial health and operational strategy.

Comparison Chart


The cost a firm incurs to fund operations.
The mix of funding sources a firm utilizes.


Influences investment & operational decisions.
Shapes a firm’s stability & growth strategy.

Financial Management

Ensures projects exceed cost to add value.
Balances debt & equity to finance operations.

Risk Management

Requires a thorough understanding of financial markets.
Demands strategic planning to mitigate financial risks.

Investor Perspective

Helps investors evaluate return on investment.
Allows investors to gauge a firm's risk and stability.

Compare with Definitions

Cost Of Capital

Cost of Capital influences a company’s investment and financing decisions.
Managers often compare project IRR to the Cost of Capital before investing.

Capital Structure

Capital Structure determines the risk and value perception of a firm.
Investors scrutinize a company’s Capital Structure for risk assessment.

Cost Of Capital

Cost of Capital is the rate a firm must surpass to attract investment.
If a project can’t surpass the Cost of Capital, it may be deemed unviable.

Capital Structure

Capital Structure influences a company's financial flexibility and stability.
A conservative Capital Structure may signal stability to investors.

Cost Of Capital

Cost of Capital includes the weighted average cost of debt and equity.
Companies work to minimize their Cost of Capital for fiscal efficiency.

Capital Structure

Capital Structure directly impacts the firm's weighted average cost of capital.
Adjusting the Capital Structure can affect a company’s cost of funding.

Cost Of Capital

Cost of Capital is a pivotal metric in capital budgeting.
Cost of Capital serves as a benchmark for evaluating various investments.

Capital Structure

Capital Structure outlines how a firm utilizes debt and equity for funding.
A startup might seek an optimal Capital Structure to foster growth.

Cost Of Capital

Cost of Capital reflects the riskiness of investing in a company.
A higher Cost of Capital indicates higher perceived risk to investors.

Capital Structure

Capital Structure is vital for strategic financial management.
Management aims for a Capital Structure that maximizes shareholder value.

Common Curiosities

What is the Cost of Capital?

It's the rate of return a company must earn to keep its market value and attract funds.

How is Capital Structure defined?

It's the mix of various funding sources, like debt and equity, utilized by a firm.

How is Cost of Capital utilized in project evaluation?

It's used to assess whether a project can generate returns exceeding its funding cost.

What significance does Capital Structure hold for a firm?

It influences the firm’s risk, operational strategy, and perceived market value.

How is Cost of Capital calculated?

It’s calculated by taking the weighted average of the cost of debt and equity.

Can a firm’s Capital Structure influence its stock price?

Yes, as it impacts the firm’s risk and thus, investor perception.

Is a lower Cost of Capital always better?

Not necessarily; it should be balanced with maintaining operational efficacy.

What role does Cost of Capital play in capital budgeting?

It acts as a benchmark to evaluate whether to accept or reject a project.

Why is minimizing Cost of Capital important?

It ensures that the firm operates efficiently and adds value for shareholders.

How does Capital Structure affect a company’s risk profile?

Higher debt in the structure usually amplifies financial risk.

What is an optimal Capital Structure?

One that minimizes the cost of capital and maximizes firm value.

Does Cost of Capital impact investment decision-making?

Yes, it’s vital in determining which investments are financially viable.

How does a change in Capital Structure affect stakeholders?

It can alter risk and return perceptions, impacting stock prices.

What components comprise Capital Structure?

It generally consists of debt, equity, and sometimes hybrid securities.

Can Cost of Capital influence a firm’s Capital Structure?

Yes, firms might alter their structure to minimize their cost of capital.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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