Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) – Definition, Example, Formula

Operating expenses

What is Capital Expenditure

Capital expenditure, often abbreviated as CapEx, refers to the funds a company uses to acquire, upgrade, and maintain physical assets such as property, industrial buildings, or equipment. This kind of expenditure is considered an investment in the business with the expectation of benefiting the company over the long term beyond the current fiscal year.

Difference between Capex and Opex. An Example:

The company purchased new machinery and continued to invest until the machine was not commissioned, including freight, machinery installation costs, and many other expenses. Such costs are considered Capex. In the future, if the company enhances the capacity of the same machine and improves its life, then that would also be regarded as Capex.

On the other hand, if the company gets into annual AMC with the machine supplier to keep the machinery, this is Opex. Also, the costs spent to run the machine, such as labour, oil, fuel, electricity rental, and other expenses associated with the machinery, are Opex. Sometimes, a major repair is mistakenly taken as Capex, but its nature has to be understood carefully, and accordingly, the treatment should be done. 

Capital Expenditure Examples

      1. Purchasing new equipment or machinery: Buying new machinery for manufacturing or production is considered capital expenditure. A new purchase or investment in an existing facility for long-term use is considered capital expenditure. As for an existing facility, new machinery or automation is added to enhance its capabilities, regarded as Capex. Machinery gets spoiled sometimes, and a significant repair is needed; such a cost is operating Expense or Opex.
      2. Building construction or acquisition: The costs involved in constructing a new facility or purchasing an existing building for expansion. Sometimes, a new property is purchased, including furniture and fixtures; in such cases, the cost spent on the acquisition is considered Capex.
      3. Upgrading existing facilities: Spending on significant improvements to existing assets, like retrofitting a factory with updated technology. Sometimes, companies find it easy to refurbish an asset with improved enhancement and technology, which increases the asset life, and then the amount spent is termed Capex.
      4. Investment in new technology refers to investment in IT infrastructure, such as servers and software, to improve business operations. Moving from server-based technology to a cloud and the Licensing and server setup cost spend is termed Capex.
      5. Vehicles for business use: Acquiring vehicles for logistics, delivery, or transportation services integral to business operations. Reused or new cars purchased with the intent of using them for the business come into the category of Capex purchased.

Capital Expenditure in Budget

Capital expenditures are allocated under a separate budget line from operating expenses (OpEx) in a company’s budget. This distinction is essential for financial reporting and tax purposes. Capital expenditures usually require a higher initial outlay of cash. They are capitalised rather than expensed, meaning the cost is depreciated over the asset’s useful life rather than recognised entirely in the year of purchase. This allocation impacts the company’s balance sheet and income statement differently from regular operating expenses.

  1. Budgeting Process: Due to its significant impact on a company’s financial resources, CapEx is carefully planned and analysed in the budgeting process. Companies often prioritise CapEx projects based on strategic importance, expected return on investment (ROI), and alignment with long-term goals. This process involves detailed forecasting, evaluation of potential benefits, and risk assessment.
  2. Separation from Operating Expenses: In the budget, capital expenditures are recorded separately from operating expenses (OpEx). OpEx includes the costs associated with day-to-day operations, such as salaries, rent, and utilities. In contrast, CapEx is intended to invest in physical assets that will provide value over several years. This separation is crucial for financial reporting, analysis, and tax purposes.
  3. Funding Sources: Companies must identify sources of funding for their capital expenditures. This could involve using retained earnings, debt financing (such as loans or bonds), equity financing, or a combination of these sources. The choice of funding method depends on the company’s financial health, market conditions, and the cost of capital.
  4. Impact on Cash Flow: Large capital expenditures can significantly impact a company’s cash flow. Therefore, carefully timing and planning these investments are crucial to avoid negatively affecting liquidity. Companies often stagger large projects over multiple periods or seek financing options that spread out the cash outflows.
  5. Depreciation and Tax Implications: Capital assets are not expensed immediately in the year of purchase; instead, their cost is capitalised and depreciated over the asset’s useful life. This depreciation is a non-cash expense that reduces taxable income, affecting the company’s tax liabilities and net income over several years.
  6. Financial Statements: CapEx affects several areas of the financial statements. The purchase of capital assets is reflected in the cash flow statement under investing activities. The assets’ value is shown on the balance sheet, and depreciation expense appears on the income statement. These changes influence vital financial ratios and metrics investors and analysts use to assess the company’s financial health and strategic direction.
  7. Strategic Considerations: Decisions on capital expenditures are closely tied to a company’s strategic goals. For example, investments in new technology or expansion into new markets require significant CapEx. These decisions are made in the context of the company’s long-term vision and competitive positioning.

Capital Expenditure Formula

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for calculating capital expenditure, it can be derived from a company’s financial statements by using the following formula:

Capital Expenditure (CapEx) = PP&Eend − PP&Ebegin + Depreciation Expense


  • PP&Eend is the value of property, plant, and equipment at the end of the period.
  • PP&Ebegin is the value at the beginning of the period.
  • Depreciation Expense is the total depreciation expense for the period.

This formula helps us understand how much a company has invested in acquiring or maintaining fixed assets over a specific period.


Spending money on Capex is an essential part of the business, but it is vital to understand how companies should fund this Capex. Capex is always invested by taking considerable equity or debt. In both scenarios, it is cost to the capital invested. So, all decisions should be wisely taken to ensure that the Return on Capex is well thought of and achieved timely.

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