Management’s CapEx forecast: Where and how to find it?

Research reports are a good place. Else, we need to attend the investor meetings, presentations and conferences hosted by the company. We can try in MD&A section to get a hint (for example, a statement that says “$150M wind farm being built by 2020”), but generally, management does not disclose such information in a usable format (like public 10-K/Q reports) unless it’s a major project for them. There are some Oil and Gas and many utility companies that discloses such information. Oil and Gas highlights it as it impacts their production growth directly; it’s a big driver for them. Analysts need to see if Oil and Gas companies are generating enough FFO over CapEx needed to sustain or grow their production.

If I were to guess, I’d look at asset replacement based on the life of the existing assets and replacements values. And then, the cost of the expanded capacity they may highlight elsewhere. If they are forecasting a 15% growth on higher units, there will be a likely event of CapEx, assuming no under-utilization of capacities.

Common-size statement analysis to identify trends: We can also try to derive the capital expenditure by looking at the company’s historical financial statements (balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement). Usually, companies in an industry spend in a proportion to their sales or EBITDA. If the sales are growing, using the same ratios (as in the past) can help derive the figure. Similarly, if the revenue / EBITDA estimates are flat, reducing the CapEx in proportion to the sales will help arriving at the estimate.

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