Corporate or Business Finance is basically the methodology of allocating financial resources, with a financial value, in an optimal manner to maximize the wealth of a business enterprise. There are three major decisions to be made in this allocation process: capital budgeting, financing, and dividend policy. Capital budgeting is the decision regarding the choice of which investments are to be made with the resources that have been brought into the business or earned and retainedby the business. The choice depends on the returns to be made from the investment exceeding the cost of capital. The method used to do this is the discounted time-value of money of the cash flow from the investment. This value is the internal rate of return (IRR), a measure of return on investment. When the IRR exceeds the required return, which is equal to the cost of the funds invested then the investment should be made. If such a required return is used as the discount rate, then that is the same as saying the investment will yield a positive net present value (NPV).
If there are two or more investments that can be made, but they are mutually exclusive, then they must be ranked; and the one with the highest NPV should be chosen. If there is a limited amount of funds to be invested, then some bankers or advisers who obtain additional funds for a business may require that the business choose among the investments so as not to exceed the limited level of funds available. This selection process, which is called capital rationing, should be done in a similar manner to rank the projects by selecting the combination of investments that do not exceed the total funds available and that yield the maximum total net present value.
What is financing?
Financing is the decision of which resources or funds are to be brought into the business from external investors and creditors in order to be invested in profitable projects. The first external source of finance is debt, which includes loans from banks and bonds purchased by bondholders. The debt creditors take less risk of non repayment because the business must repay them if there are funds available to do so when the debt becomes due.
The second external source of finance is equity, which includes common stock and preferred stock. The equity investors in the business take more business risk and may not receive payment until the creditors are repaid and the management of the business decides to distribute funds back to the investors.
The goal of the financing decision is to obtain all the resources necessary, to make all the investments that yield a return in excess of the cost of the funds invested or the required rate of return, and to obtain these funds at the lowest average cost, so as to reduce the required rate of return and increase the net present value of the projects selected.
What is a dividend policy?
Dividend policy is the decision regarding funds to be distributed or returned to the equity investors. This can be done with common stock dividends, preferred stock dividends, or stock repurchase by the business of its own stock. The aim of this decision is to retain the resources in the business that are required to run the business or make additional investments in the business, as long as the returns earned exceed the required return.
In theory, management should return or distribute all resources that cannot be invested in the business at levels in excess of the required return. In practice, however, dividends are often maintained at or changed to certain levels in order to convey the proper signals to the investors and the financial markets. For example, dividends can be maintained at moderate levels to demonstrate stability, maintained at or reduced to low levels to demonstrate the growth opportunities for the business, or increased to higher levels to demonstrate the restoration of a strong financial (capital) structure (debt and equity capital) for the business.