What is Capital Budgeting?

Legal Definition
Capital budgeting, or investment appraisal, is the planning process used to determine whether an organization's long term investments such as new machinery, replacement of machinery, new plants, new products, and research development projects are worth the funding of cash through the firm's capitalization structure (debt, equity or retained earnings). It is the process of allocating resources for major capital, or investment, expenditures. One of the primary goals of capital budgeting investments is to increase the value of the firm to the shareholders.

Many formal methods are used in capital budgeting, including the techniques such as

  • Accounting rate of return
  • Average accounting return
  • Payback period
  • Net present value
  • Profitability index
  • Internal rate of return
  • Modified internal rate of return
  • Equivalent annual cost
  • Real options valuation

These methods use the incremental cash flows from each potential investment, or project. Techniques based on accounting earnings and accounting rules are sometimes used - though economists consider this to be improper - such as the accounting rate of return, and "return on investment." Simplified and hybrid methods are used as well, such as payback period and discounted payback period.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
These allocate the use of capital assets that have a life span considerably in excess of one year, these are assets that are not normally used up in day to day operations.