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TOOL KIT

What's Your Real


Cost of.
Caoital?
byjamesj. McNulty,Tony D. Yeh,
William S. Schuize, and Michael H. Lubatkin

W
HEN EXECUTIVES evaluate tinely applies too high a cost of capital
a potential investment, in its project valuations, then it will re-
whether it's to build a new ject valuable opportunities that its com-
plant, enter a new market, or acquire a petitors will happily snap up. Setting the
The traditional company, they weigh its cost against the rate too low, on the other hand, almost
future cash flows they expect will spring guarantees that the company will com-
approach to from it. To make sure they're compar- mit resources to projects that will erode
evaluating capital ing apples to apples, they discount those profitability and destroy shareholder
future cash flows to arrive at their net value. The fact that companies tend to
investments has a present value. Estimating the rate at settle on a discount rate and use it as
which to discount the cash flows - the their financial benchmark for long pe-
fatal flaw. Here's costofequitycapital-isan integral part riods of time, regardless of changes that
of the exercise, and the choice of rate take place in the company or its mar-
how to get numbers has a significant effect on estimates of kets, only compounds the likelihood
you can count on. a project's or a company's value. For of error.
instance, if you had recently run a dis- The standard formula for estimating
counted cash flow, or DCF, valuation the cost of equity capital-or, depend-
on the UK-based mobile phone giant ing on your perspective, an investor's
Vodafone, you would have found that required rate of return on equity-is the
changing the discount rate from 12% to capital asset pricing model (CAPM).The
11.6% - hardly a major change - would formula, which has remained funda-
have increased the company's estimated mentally unchanged for almost four
value by 15%, or 13.4 billion. decades, states that a company's cost
Of course, not all companies or proj- of capital is equal to the risk-free rate of
ects are as sensitive to discount rate return (typically the yield on a ten-year
changes, but even so, if a company rou- treasury bond) plus a premium to re-

114 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW


fleet the extra risk of the investment in the practical implications of these reser- estimates that defy common sense. Take
question. The premium is the historical vations are clear If beta-based measures the case of Apple Computer in the mid-
difference between the risk-free rate of a company's cost of capital are unre- 1990s. Before the return of founder and
and the rate of return on the stock mar- liable, the usefulness of the valuation CEO Steve Jobs in 1998, Apple was a
ket as a whole (measured by an index exercise itself is questionable. mess. Its market share was dwindling,
such as the S&P 500) multiplied by an As an alternative to CAPM and beta, its earnings were deteriorating, and its
adjusting number to reflect the volatil- we've developed a new forward-looking stock price had fallen into the single
ity ofthe stock and the degree to which approach to calculating a company's digits. Intuitively, you would think that
it has historically moved up or down cost ofcapital.called the market-derived investors at that time would have ex-
with the market. capital pricing model (MCPM). This pected a fairly high rate of return on
The adjusting number is called the model is based on the traded prices of the money they put into the company.
stock's beta, and its calculation has long equity options on a company's shares, According to CAPM calculations,
been a source of frustration. A message which means it incorporates the mar- however, Apple's cost of equity capital
that we hear repeated in hundreds of ket's best estimates of the future price at the end of its five stormiest years
conversations with corporate executives volatility of that company's shares (1993 through 1998) would have been
and investment bankers is that they rather than using historical data as in just 8%,given the beta generated by that
fudge their estimates of beta because the case of CAPM. Our research shows period's data. By contrast, IBM's equiv-
experience and intuition tell them it is that the discount rates given by MCPM alent cost of equity in 1998 would have
an unreliable measure of a stock's risk- are more realistic-especially from the been 12%, because its beta was twice as
iness. Consequently, they believe the perspective of the corporate investor - large as Apple's even though its stock
CAPM formula systematically produces than the rates generated by CAPM. price during the period had moved
inappropriate discount rates. These prac- much less wildly and its business out-
titioners are not alone in their doubts; a What's Wrong with CAPM? look was much brighter. What's more,
growing number of academics have also It's not hard to see why practitioners are Apple's theoretical cost of equity capi-
started to question the basic assump- suspicious of CAPM. Beta-based calcu- tal in 1998 was lower than the 8.5%
tions underlying CAPM and beta. And lations regularly produce cost-of-capital yield that bond investors would have

OCTOBER 2002 115


TOOL KIT What's Your Real Cost of Capital?

demanded from the company, which hedge value to investors justifies a lower
makes no sense since bondholders have cost of equity capital.
a prior claim on a company's earnings But while that might be true for di-
in terms of interest payments and on its versified investors, the hedge wouid cer-
assets in the event of bankruptcy. Our tainly have no value to more focused
research suggests that anomalies like corporate investors who expect total re-
these can be traced to one or more of turns on their investments that com-
three basic problems. pensate them for the total risks they are
Conflict Between Volatility and Cor- undertaking. In general,corporate inves-
relation. As in the case of Apple and tors do not try to reduce risk by diversi-
IBM, perverse differences in cost-of- fying it away; they control it through
capital numbers are often a direct con- the good management of operations.
sequence of the fact that beta is a mea- The extra value they create by manag-
sure of both correlation and volatility. ing well differentiates their company's
The specific calculation for beta is: performance from that of others. Since
stock volatility
they mitigate their investment risks
X correlation stock vs. index
index volatility
through sound management rather than valid in a computational sense, so how
diversification, they require a higher re- could either claim to be a useful predic-
Although Apple's stock was almost
turn on their investments commensu- tor of the future?
twice as volatile as IBM's during the five
rate with their more demanding task. The problem with using historical
years we looked at (52% share price vol-
(See the working paper, "New Players, data can be avoided, in part, by plug-
atility for Apple compared with 28% for
New Rules and New Incentives: Corpo- ging forecasts of future volatility into
IBM), its correlation with the market's
rate Finance Requires New Metrics," by the beta formula. These are not that
movement was only one-fourth as great
James J. McNuity and Tony D. Yeh [Pa- hard to find: Options traders, after all,
(0.105 for Apple versus 0.425 for IBM).
cifica Strategic Advisors, 2001] for more earn their living by trading on volatil-
The low correlation more than offset
detail on acquisition and project return ity forecasts. But no one has yet devised
the high volatility, resulting in a beta of
metrics for the corporate manager.) a method to accurately predict the fu-
0.47 for Apple compared with 1.09 for
IBM. Given a risk-free rate of 5-2% and Reliance on Historical Data. The sec- ture correlation of a single stock to the
an historical equity-market risk pre- ond problem with beta is that the vola- market. Even for a diversified company
mium of 6%, these betas produced the tility of the stock and its correlation to like GE, past performance is not a useful
perverse results we noted. the market are computed using data indicator of correlation. The one-year
Adjusting for correlation can distort from some past period, which may go rolling correlation of GE stock with the
estimates of risk, but there is a rationale back as little as 150 trading days or as S&P 500, of which it is a major compo-
for doing it. From the perspective of a much asfiveyears. Unfortunately, beta nent, has ranged between 0.55 and 0.85
professional, diversified investor-which estimates are notoriously sensitive to over the past four years. Indeed, many
financial theory assumes (somewhat minor changes in the time period used. academics believe that a company's
questionably) is the profile of all inves- For example, we recently acted as a ref- stock-to-market correlation is in con-
tors-a stock that has a low correlation eree in a dispute between the treasury stant flux, randomly varying between
with the market can serve as a diversi- and finance departments of a UK-based -1 (perfectly negatively correlated) and
fying hedge, a way to reduce the overall multinational, where the two depart- +1 (perfectly correlated). Since correla-
risk of the investor's equity portfolio. A ments' beta estimates differed greatly. tions are so variable, it clearly makes no
portfolio that contains a low-correlated We demonstrated that even slight alter- sense to compute a discount rate using
stock will be less volatile than one that ations, such as a two-day shift in the historical correlation data - yet this is
doesn't because the low-correlated stock sampling day (using Friday's stock prices exactly what you have to do if you base
will be changing independently of the rather than Wednesday's) to calculate your cost of equity capital on beta.
rest of the portfolio. It could be argued, beta, generated quite different betas of Indifference to the Holding Period.
therefore, that a low-correlated stock's 0.70 and 1.41- Both betas were equally A third source of problems with CAPM
cost-of-equity numbers is that a com-
James J. McNuity is the president and CEO of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Incorpo- pany typically calculates just one esti-
rated. Tony D. Yeh is afounding partner ofPacifica Strategic Advisors, a corporate met- mate of its discount rate, which it ap-
rics consulting firm based in San Francisco. William S. Schuize is an assistant profes- plies to all future projects it may invest
sor at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in in, regardless of the life or horizon, be
Cleveland. Michael H. Lubatkin is a professor at the University qf Connecticut's School it two years or ten. Using a single term
of Business in Starrs and at Em Lyon in France. For more information about this arti- can gravely mislead corporate investors
cle, contact the authors at tony_yeh@pacifica-consulting.com. because the holding period of a capital

116 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW


What's Your Real Cost of Capital? TOOL KIT

investment has a powerful impact on into the rate, which means that MCPM on the company's earnings is secondary
its value. is customized to fit the expected life of to debt holders' claims in bankruptcy
Both options theory and options a capital investment. or otherwise.
trading experience tell us that the mar- MCPM is based on the premise that Putting a numerical value on the first
ginal risk of an investment (the addi- investors require compensation for two kinds of risk is fairly straightfor-
tional risk that a company takes on per three kinds of risk. The first type, which ward. Compensation for the national
unit of time) declines as a function of we call the national confiscation risk, confiscation risk is the government
the square root of time. If an investment measures the risk that an investor will bond rate for a given time period. The
is expected to be worth $ioo in one year lose the value of his or her investment corporate default risk is the premium
but has a projected volatility of 20%, because of a national policy-expropri- above the government bond rate that
then its expected price has a high likeli- ation, for instance, or confiscatory taxes corporations pay to obtain funds. For
hood of ranging between $80 and $120 or a loose monetary policy leading to companies that have actively traded
(one standard deviation range in one runaway inflation. The second type, the corporate bonds, the yield on the bonds
year). But if an investment is expected corporate default risk, refiects the addi- captures the national confiscation risk
to be worth $100 in four years and has tional risk that a company will default and the corporate default risk. Take GE,
the same projected volatility, then its as a result of mismanagement indepen- for example. The exhibit "GE's Term
expected price will likely range between dent of macroeconomic considerations. Structure of Bond Yields" shows how
$60 and $140 (one standard deviation The third type, the equity returns risk, much of GE's default risk is national and
range in four years). In other words, in- refiects the extra risk that an equity in- how much is corporate over a ten-year
creasing the holding period from one vestor bears because his residual claim period. The five-year yield for GE's
to four years reduces the per annum risk
of the investment by 50% (that is, $20
over one year compared with $40 over GE's Term Structure of Bond Yields
four years).
This chart shows the returns that bondholders expect from G E debt over
The falling marginal risk serves to re- a range of maturities. The light blue areas represent the yields on govern-
duce the annual discount rate. An inves- ment bonds; the dark blue areas show the credit spread, or the premium
tor who requires a 21% cost of capital for above the government bond rate that GE pays to obtain funds. The bulk of
a one-year equity investment, for exam- the returns to investors is to compensate for national confiscation risk
ple, would require a 13-5% annual rate (mainly inflation); the remaining returns are for risk of mismanagement and
on a five-year equity investment of a are relatively small. For companies that have no bonds outstanding, yields
similar risk. The overall riskiness ofthe can be determined by looking at the debt of companies with equivalent
longer investment is certainly greater credit ratings or by asking the debt syndicate desks of investment banks.
than that ofthe shorter one-five years
of 13-5% is greater than one year of 21%.
However, the riskiness increases at a de-
clining rate over time, as reflected in the
difference between the annualized rates
for the different terms. Just as with in-
terest rates on debt, term structures
should be taken into account when cal-
culating rates of return on equity.

Introducing MCPM 3%

The market-derived capital pricing


model completely avoids the problems 2%
that bedevil the CAPM formula. Our
approach draws on information obtain-
able from the yields on government
bonds, corporate bonds, and the traded
prices of options. It does not incorpo-
rate any measure of historical stock-to- 1 8 9 10
market correlation, relying instead on term (in years)
estimates of future volatility derived
government bond rate company credit spread
from the options market. What's more,
the term ofthe investment is calculated Information in this chart is based on data provided by Bloomberg on June 26,2002,

OCTOBER 2002 117


TOOL KIT What's Your Real Cost of Capital?

bonds, for instance, is 472%, of which retum-the rate required to compensate just how well the share price must per-
4.49% is due to national confiscation risk investors for the equity return risk - for form in order to compensate equity in-
and the remaining 0.23% is compensa- a particular period has been calculated vestors for their additional risk. To do so,
tion for potential corporate default. as an annual percentage, you add it to we begin by determining the minimal
It is a bit more complicated to calcu- the estimated yield on corporate bonds capital gains that equity investors will
late the third kind of risk: the extra pre- of matching maturity to obtain the mar- require. The standard definition of eq-
mium that shareholders require as com- ket-derived cost of equity. We illustrate uity returns is the sum ofthe rate of cap-
pensation for their position at the end each step by calculating the cost of eq- ital gains and the dividend yield, more
of the liquidation line. We've broken uity for GE'sfive-yearterm. formally:
down the calculation into four steps, as Step 1: Calculate the forward break- equity" capital gains dividends
described below. Once the excess equity even price. The first step is to find out Since the return on equity should be
greater than return on debt, it follows
that the minimal rate of capital gain
How Options Work that equity investors require on a stock
can be no less than the difference be-
An option on a stock is a contract that gives the holder the right but not the tween the return on debt and the divi-
obligation to buy or sell a share of common stock in a company at a predeter- dend yield:
mined price (the strike price) before a specified date (the expiration date). '^debt"'^dividends

Options that give the right to buy are known as call options; those that give The rate of return on the debt is the
the right to sell are called put options. same as the bond yield. The dividend
Sellers of call options are betting that the price of a company's stock will not yield can be obtained by dividing the
company's expected current dividend
rise above the strike price during the duration of the contract. Buyers are mak-
payout by the share price. Research
ing the opposite bet: that the company will do better than currently predicted
shows that the current dividend is a
by the equity markets. They will profit if the share price exceeds the strike price
good predictor of a company's long-
of the option before expiration. When it comes to put options, the positions are term dividend stream, probably because
reversed: Buyers bet that the share price will not exceed the strike price, and companies make a conscious effort not
sellers bet that it will. Investors can use options as a kind of insurance. A holder to surprise the markets with unexpected
ofsharesinacompanycan,for instance, insure against a fall in a share price changes in their financial distribution
by buying a put option of the company's shares. A call option insures them policies. Any such changes are usually
against a rise if they hold a short position in the shares. signaled well in advance. For GE,there-
How can investors judge the value of the bet-or insurance policy-repre- fore, we estimate that the current ex-
pected dividend yield is 2.44% given the
sented by an option? The Black-Scholes pricing model is regarded as the most
company's forecast payout of 72 cents
effective method of valuing options. According to this model, the price of an
and the current share price of $29.50
option is a function of five elements: the current price of the stock, the strike (as of June 26, 2002). Subtracting this
price ofthe option, the length oftime to expiration, the interest rate, and the from thefive-yearbond yield (4.72%, as
projected volatility ofthe stock price. (An explanation ofthe Black-Scholes for- determined above) tells us that the min-
mula itself is beyond the scope ofthis article, but an overview can be found in imum required annual rate of capital
any good corporate finance textbook.) gains for afive-yearinvestment is 2.28%.
What matters most in the Black-Scholes model is the volatility measure, Once we have a number for the min-
because it reflects the level of uncertainty that investors have about a com- imum required capital gains rate, we can
pany's future cash flows. The greater their uncertainty-that is, the greater calculate the price a stock must reach at
the probability that the market is either undervaluing or overvaluing the the end ofthe period to make that rate
company-the greater the price ofthe option. As the projected volatility of of return, using the standard future
the stock increases, so does the likelihood that the share price will exceed value formula:
future value - spot price x (1 + interest rate)"
the strike price. This meansthatthe value of an option is not affected by the
where n is the length in years ofthe in-
direction in which stock price moves but only by how much the price of a
vestor's holding period. Applying this
stock fluctuates. And since the price of an option is determined by the pro-
formula to GE's cunent price of $29.50
jected volatility of a stock, fluctuations in option price directly reflect changes
and the minimal capital gains rate of
in investor confidence about the company's earnings potential. 2.28% (the interest rate in the formula),
For a more detailed discussion of options, see "Investment Opportunities we find that the minimum acceptable
as Real Options: Getting Started on the Numbers," by Timothy A. Luehrman stock price in five years is $33.02. If in-
(H BR July-August 1998). vestors expect that GE's shares will not

118 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW


What's Your Real Cost of Capital? TOOL KIT

reach $33.02 in five years, they should tween now and the option's maturity. price of afive-yearput option works out
buy five-year GE bonds instead. Thus, if a GEfive-yearoption has a price to be $7.75. given a spot price of the
Step 2: Estimate the stock's future of $7.37, a strike price of $35, and the share of $29.50, a volatility of 35%, and
volatility. Once we've worked out the current price and the cost of funds to a 4.72% corporate bond yield.
minimum acceptable stock price, we de- purchase the option are $29.50 and Step 4: Derive the annualized excess
termine how likely it is that a company 4-49% respectively, we can determine equity return. Thefinalstage in calculat-
will fail to reach the target price, be- that the stock will have a volatili^ of ing the excess equity return is to express
cause equity investors require compen- 35%- (For more on options and the the dollar cost of this "insurance" as an
sation for the riskof underperformance. Black-Scholes model, see the sidebar annual premium. To do this, we divide
We do this by looking at the prices for "How Options Work.") the theoretical put option price by the
options, which reflect the market's level Step 3: Calculate the cost of down- spot price of GE's stock and convert it
of uncertainty about a company's abil- side insurance. In this step, we com- into an annual percentage, using the fol-
ity to deliver the expected cash flows. If bine our estimate of volatility vrith the lowing annuitizing formula:
there is considerable uncertainty, then forward breakeven price to determine CE option price
the shares will be very volatile until the the price investors would be prepared CE spot price
actual cash flows prove otherwise. to pay in order to insure against the
We determine the degree of volatility chances that their shares will fall below GEbond GE bond rate x ( l +G bond rate)term
using the Black-Scholes pricing model, the forward breakeven price. This is the rate
which is the standard way to estimate premium that reflects the extra risk of The term refers to the investment
option value. Black-Scholes is based on equity over debt. horizon, in this case five years. Apply-
five ingredients: volatility, the current Once again, that number can be ob- ing this conversion formula to the theo-
price of the stock, the strike price of tained by using the Black-Scholes pric- retical put price we calculated for GE
the oprtion, the length of time to expira- ing model. This time, however, the ob- gives us a rate of excess equity return
tion, and the prevailing interest rate on jective is to calculate the value of a of 6.02%. (Strictly speaking, we should
the company's bonds for the remainder theoretical five-year put option {the convert the GE bond rate into a zero-
of the option's life (reflecting therisksof right to sell in five years the shares an coupon rate, but for the purposes of sim-
default). Given the price of an option, its investor owns). The strike price of the plicity, we have used the GE par-bond
terms, and the prevailing interest rate, option is the forward breakeven price rate of 4.72%.)
we can use the formula to calculate the ($33.02), the volatility is that of the Having obtained the equity risk pre-
remaining variable-that is, the market's traded call option, and the interest rate mium for a particular period as an an-
expectations on a stock's volatility be- is the corporate debt rate. For GE, the nualized percentage, we can derive the

CE's Term Structure of Equity Cost

This chart shows CE's MCPM cost-of-equity 20%


rates for terms of one to ten years. The MCPM
18%
rate is made up of two components: the cor-
porate bond yield (the dark green portion of
each bar) and the excess equity premium
(the light green portion). Unlike CAPM rates,
which are the same regardless of the term of
the investment, MCPM rates take the invest-
ment horizon into account, applying differ-
ent rates to longer-term investments (such as
the development of a new aircraft engine)
than to shorter-term investments (such as a
new marketing program). Compensation for
the riskof longer investments remains greater
than that of shorter ones-five years of 10.64%
2%
is greater than one year of 17-45%-but the
additional compensation for the risk that CE 0%
takes on per year decreases over time. 9 10

Information in this chart is based on data provided


by Bloomberg on June 36,2002. corporate bond yield excess equity premium (annuitized)

OCTOBER 2002 119


TOOL KIT What's Your Real Cost of Capital?

MCPM rate by adding the premium to sonable and intuitive discount rates ket The MCPM calculation, which re-
the yield on the company's bonds ofthe than CAPM? Certainly, we found that moves the distorting effect of correlation
appropriate maturity. In the case of GE, the 1998 MCPM rate for Apple made with the stock market altogether, pro-
adding thefive-yearexcess equity return more sense at 19.2% than did its CAPM duced numbers that were far closer to-
of 6.02% to GE'sfive-yearbond yield of cost of equity at 8%. We did similar com- gether, ranging from only 9.9% to 11.5%.
4.72% gives us afive-yearcost of equity parisons of MCPM and CAPM numbers We also looked at the biotech indus-
capital rate of 10.74%-The exhibit "GE's for hundreds of companies in a wide try. Here, CAPM seemed to compress
Term Structure of Equity Cost" shows range of industries with the same result. the cost-of-capital numbers into an
GE's cost of equity across a range of in- Consider the electric utility business unreasonably narrow range. Take Ge-
vestment horizons. The declining cost- before deregulation. Most investors and nomic Solutions, for example, a newer
of-equity structure reflects how time analysts agreed that the cost of equity for company that went public in 2000. Be-
affectsthe impact ofvolatility on value. utilities should not have varied greatly fore the IPO, Genomic Solutions had
Although it is easier to calculate across companies or even across coun- been owned entirely by venture capital
MCPMs for large companies such as GE, tries. After all, this was (and is) a mature investors, who had expected returns on
vtfhich have many options and futures business providing a commodity service, equity of 30% or more. After just a year
traded on their stocks across a broad using well-established technologies. In- as a listed stock, bankers using CAPM es-
range of maturities, it is possible to de- deed, because regulated utilities typi- timated that the company's cost of cap-
rive meaningful rates for smaller com- cally had predictable cash flows, almost ita! was only 12%, a rate similar to those
panies as well. We usually impute miss- as regular as coupons on a bond, their of established industry players. Anom-
ing data by looking at options written share prices often behaved like corpo- alies like this vanish if MCPM is used in-
either on comparable companies for the rate bond prices. Nonetheless, the stan- stead. Of the ten biotech companies we
time period involved or by extrapolat- dard CAPM calculation implied discount looked at, the rates for the newly public
ing from shorter- or longer-dated op- rates that varied greatly - from 5-i% to ones were consistently higher than the
tions, or both. 10.3%. Looking closely, we found that rates for the established businesses. (See
the source of the problem was the cor- the exhibit "Estimated Costs of Capital
How Is MCPM Better? relation conflict: Utilities before deregu- for Biotech Companies.")
lation varied much more in their degree
As with any new formula or theory, Further compelling evidence came
of historical correlation with the equity
MCPM should be judged by its results. from our analysis of 32 publicly traded
market than they did with the bond mar-
Does it consistently produce more rea- real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Estimated Costs of Capital for Biotech Companies


This graph compares MCPM
43%
cost-of-equity rates with CAPM
estimates for a number of biotech 39%- A 38.5%
companies. Some are start-ups A 35.9%
35%- A 35.0%
with no track records that are
.,32.2%* 32.7%
dependent on a single unproven 31%-
technology. Others-Elan, Millen-
nium Pharmaceuticals, and Mon- 27%-
santo-are established businesses A 23.6%
23%-
with relatively predictable and di-
versified project pipelines. While 19%-
common sense would dictate that A 15.3%
the riskier start-ups would have 15%- 114.8% A 14.2%
113.5% 12.4%
112.0% 112.4% 12.0%
higher cost-of-equity rates than the 11%- n.0%. 10.5% flO.0%,
19.1%
9.9%
more stable businesses, CAPM 8.1%
rates for all the companies are very
similar. By contrast, MCPM rates
reflect the relative riskiness ofthe o
ri
ventures. S E

Information in this chart is based on


Company
data provided by Warburg Dillon Read
on October 16,1999. CAPM estimate A MCPM estimate

120 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW


What's Your Real Cost o f Capital? T O O L K I T

Regulations require that 90% of the cash


flows of these companies be paid out to
Comparing CAPM and MCPM for Real Estate Investment Trusts investors as dividends. The greater the
cashflows,of course, the greater the im-
These charts compare CAPM and MCPM rates against the FFO multiples for
mediately realizable value of the REIT
32 real estate investment trusts. FFO multiples (market capitalization divided
to its investors. As a result, REIT prices
by funds from operations) are an accepted metric used by REIT investors and
tend to trade as a multiple of their cur-
reflect the market's perception of the riskiness of these investments. As the top
rent cashflows-specifically,funds from
chart shows, there is almost no relationship between CAPM rates and the FFO
operations (FFO)-divided by the share
multiples. By contrast, the bottom chart shows that MCPM cost-of-capital
price, those with more reliable cash
numbersarequiteclosely (inked to FFO muttiples-thecostof equity declines
flows trading at higher multiples. You
as the FFO multiple increases-which is what you would expect.
wouid expect the discount rates, there-
fore, to correlate negatively with FFO
multiples. But as the exhibit "Compar-
ing CAPM and MCPM for Real Estate
Investment Trusts" shows, for the REFTs
we kx)ked at, there is almost no rela-
tionship between FFO multiples and
CAPM discount rates. Once again, the
culprit is stock-to-market correlation.
Some of the lower yielding REITs also
had a high market correlation, which
made for a high CAPM rate, and vice
versa. By contrast, plotting FFO multi-
ples against MCPM rates reveals a sig-
nificant relationship.

We're under no illusions that our ap-


proach to calculating the cost of capital
will be the final word. However, this
CAPM cost of equity method should be useful to CEOs and
CFOs who need to hit total return tar-
gets to satisfy shareholders. MCPM is a
total return measure that is not diluted
by guesses at a stock's correlation to an
index, and it has the advantage of being
based on forward-looking market ex-
pectations, not historical data. This is
helpful since these are the same inves-
tor expectations that are built into a
company's current stock price. Finan-
cial risk management has evolved a
great deal in the past 50 years with the
development of deeply liquid markets
in stock options and futures. MCPM lets
corporate managers take advantage of
the rich information these markets pro-
vide to determine discount rates that
can help them increase their probability
3% 4% 5% 6% 7% 9%
of creating shareholder value as they
MCPM costof equity
make major capital allocation decisions
or assess the value of acquisitions. ^

liifbrmation in these charts is based on data provided by Warburg Dillon Read on April 30,1999. Reprint R0210J
To order reprints, see the last page
of Executive Summaries.

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