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Leverage and Capital Structure

Week 5 – Discussion Forum 2

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Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Refer to the Discussion Forum Grading Rubric under the Settings icon above for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

 Leverage and Capital Structure [WLOs: 2, 3] [CLO: 3]

“The use of debt to fund the firm (called leveraging) carries with it benefits as well as risks” (Hickman et all., 2013, Chap 8, Overview, para. 4). In the short term, leverage lowers the weighted average cost of capital due to the typically lower required rates of return on debt as compared to equity. In the long run, debt requires interest payments and the principal must be repaid. A firm that cannot repay its debt faces default risk and/or bankruptcy. The risks due to excessive leverage are known as financial risks. Thus, as a firm considers using debt or equity to fund its business, it must consider both the benefits of debt and the financial risks of too much debt. In this discussion, you will evaluate a real-world scenario and consider the implications of the debt financing decision for the firm.

Prepare:

Prior to beginning work on this discussion forum,

 (Links to an external site.)

How Alex Clark Turned $32,000 Into a Chocolate Phenomenon – 30 Under 30 | Forbes (Links to an external site.)

After watching the video, answer the following questions in your post:

  • Did Alex Clark initially fund the business with equity or debt?
  • Initially, Clark’s chocolate business is very small. Compared to publicly traded companies, would Clark’s required rate of return on equity be higher or lower than the “average” required rate of return on equity for small cap companies of 15%? Explain your answer.
  • After the business was established, Clark talked about buying a building to expand. This is a good example of an investment project that a business must evaluate. Would the required rate of return for Clark’s building purchase be higher or lower than the overall chocolate company’s required rate of return? Explain your answer.
  • Should Clark use some bank debt to finance all or a portion of the building purchase?
    • Justify your answer by explaining how the weighted average cost of capital for the company would change if Clark uses bank debt to finance all or a portion of the building purchase.
  • What is the primary risk that Clark faces if she uses debt to finance the entire building purchase? For purposes of this discussion, assume that the debt would then comprise 95% of the company’s capital structure.

Guided Response: Review several of your colleagues’ posts, and reply to at least two of your peers by 11:59 p.m. on Day 7 of the week. In your written responses to your classmates, address the following:

  • Provide feedback on your peers’ answers, including whether you agree or disagree with any of the answers or reasoning provided. Justify your opinion.
  • State your opinion on whether Clark should use debt to finance the building purchase, and if so, how much debt should be used (as a percent of the total building price). Justify your opinion.

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