Capital Structure

Capital structure is the proportion of all types of capital viz. equity, debt, preference etc. It is synonymously used as financial leverage or financing mix. Capital structure is also referred as the degree of debts in the financing or capital of a business firm.

Financial leverage is the extent to which a business firm employs borrowed money or debts. In financial management, it is a significant term and an important decision in a business. In the capital structure of a company, broadly, there are mainly two types of capital i.e. Equity and Debt. Out of the two, debt is considered a cheaper source of finance because the interest payments are a tax deductible expense.

Capital Structure Theories

Capital structure or financial leverage deals with a very important financial management question. The question is – ‘what should be the ratio of debt and equity?’ Before scratching our minds to find the answer to this question, we should know the objective of doing all this. In the financial management context, the objective of any financial decision is to maximize the shareholder’s wealth or increase the value of the firm. The other question which hits the mind at the first place is whether a change in the financing mix would have any impact on the value of the firm or not. The question is a valid question as there are some theories which believe that financial mix has an impact on the value and others believe it to be not connected.

How can financial leverage affect the value?

One thing is sure that wherever and whatever way one sources the finance from, it cannot change the operating income levels. Financial leverage can, at the max, have an impact on the net income or the EPS (Earning per Share). The reason is explained further. Changing the financing mix means changing the level of debts and change in levels of debt can impact the interest payable by that firm. Decrease in interest would increase the net income and thereby the EPS and it is a general belief that the increase in EPS leads to increase in the value of the firm.

Apparently, under this view, financial leverage is a useful tool to increase value but, at the same time, nothing comes without a cost. Financial leverage increases the risk of bankruptcy. It is because higher the level of debt, higher would be the fixed obligation to honor the interest payments to the debts providers.

Discussion of financial leverage has an obvious objective of finding an optimum capital structure leading to maximization of the value of the firm. If cost of capital is high

Important theories or approaches to financial leverage or capital structure or financing mix are as follows:

Net Income Approach

This approach was suggested by Durand and he was in the favor of financial leverage decision. According to him, change in financial leverage would lead to a change in the cost of capital. In short, if the ratio of debt in the capital structure increases, the weighted average cost of capital decreases and hence the value of the firm.

Net Operating Income Approach

This approach is also provided by Durand but it is totally opposite to the Net Income Approach. It says that the weighted average cost of capital remains constant. It believes in the fact that the market analyses firm as a whole which discounts at a particular rate which is not related to debt-equity ratio.

Traditional Approach

This approach is not defined hard and fast facts but it says that cost of capital is a function of the capital structure. The special thing about this approach is that it believes an optimal capital structure. Optimal capital structure implies that at a particular ratio of debt and equity, the cost of capital is minimum and value of the firm is maximum.

Modigliani and Miller Approach (MM Approach)

It is a capital structure theory named after Franco Modigliani and Merton Miller. MM theory proposed two propositions.

  • Proposition I: It says that the capital structure is irrelevant to the value of a firm. The value of two identical firms would be same and it would not be affected by the mode of finance adopted to finance the assets. The value of a firm is dependent on the expected future earnings.
  • Proposition II: It says that the financial leverage boosts the expected earnings but it does not increase the value of the firm because the increase in earnings is compensated by the change in the required rate of return.

To summarize, it is essential for finance professionals to know about the nitty-gritty of capital structure they have suggested to the management. Accurate analysis of capital structure can help a company save on the part of their cost of capital and hence improve profitability for the shareholders.

Last updated on : August 31st, 2017
What’s your view on this? Share it in comments below.

About The Author

Sanjay Bulaki Borad
Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".


  1. dr.chinmayanand paul
  2. Ritesha
  3. Charles ayim
  4. hitesh thakur
  5. Deepak Mathur
  6. Sreelakshmi
  7. onuminya okpoju benjamin

Leave a Reply

Factors affecting Capital Structure Decisions
  • Net Income Approach
    Capital Structure Theory – Net Income Approach
  • Leveraged Buyout LBO
    Leveraged Buyout
  • Pecking order theory
    Pecking Order Theory
  • Net Operating Income Approach
    Capital Structure Theory – Net Operating Income …
  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Recent Posts

    Find us on Facebook

    Related pages

    irr definationwhat is a accounting equationdefinition of lessee vs lessordisadvantages of leasinglimitations of wacchire purchase creditorcommon size balance sheet ratiosrationing defdifferentiate between fixed cost and variable costrevaluation surplus ifrsdifference between leasing and financing a vehiclefixed charge covenantdefine capital expenditure budgetfinance lease ifrs exampledebit and credit meaning with exampleadvantages of cvpdebiting and crediting accountswhat is project irrdisadvantages of double entry systemdifference between financing and leasingdepreciation tax shield calculatordividend discount model examplegp margin formulawhat is bank overdraft facilitypayback method disadvantagestypes of bill of lading in shippingconfirming bank letter of creditgaap definition of an assetadvantages and disadvantages of global tradestock turns calculationidbi loan statementexpenses are debits or creditscalculating preferred dividendslc transactionhire purchasing and leasingcalculating debt service coverage ratioinvestment avenues in indiaoptimal dividend policyprice per earnings ratio formulairr rate formuladefine invoice discountingtotal assets turnover ratio analysis interpretationroa calculation exampletypes of intangible assetsasset revaluation ifrsirr finance definitionfinding ebitmarginal costing and break even analysisaccounting equation definitionirredeemable debt definitionaccounts payable meaning with exampleadvantages of stable dividend policycvp analysis break even pointcapital investment appraisal methodsbill of lading meaningwhat is the formula for asset turnoveracid turnover ratiowhat are cost drivers in accountingbank overdraft meaning in hindicalculate receivables turnoverm&m capital structure theoryinternal rate of return formulareplacement cost approachfactor affecting capital structurelesse vs lessorprofit maximization goaltypes of bill of lading in shippingdebtor collection period formulatax shield benefitbill discounting procedureadvantages and disadvantages of financial leverage