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Capital Employed


Capital employed refers to the total amount of funds invested in a business, which is essential for generating profits. It represents the value of assets used by a company to produce goods or deliver services, including equity and debt. The calculation for capital employed typically involves summing the shareholders’ equity and debt liabilities, or deducting current liabilities from a company’s total assets.


Capital Employed: /ˈkæpɪtl ɛmˈplɔɪd/

Key Takeaways

  1. Capital Employed represents the total amount of capital invested in a business: Capital Employed is a measure of the total resources used by a company to generate profit. It includes both shareholders’ equity and long-term liabilities, which are used to finance the company’s assets like property, plant, and equipment. Understanding Capital Employed provides insight into a company’s financial performance and offers a basis for comparing similar businesses.
  2. It is an important metric for evaluating a company’s profitability and efficiency: Capital Employed can be used to calculate return on capital employed (ROCE), a key financial ratio that indicates a company’s efficiency at generating profits from its capital. A higher ROCE indicates that the company is using its capital more effectively, leading to greater profitability and potential growth. Thus, investors and analysts often use ROCE as an indicator of management’s effectiveness and the company’s potential for generating shareholder value.
  3. Capital Employed can be calculated in multiple ways: There are different ways to calculate Capital Employed, but the two most common methods are: (1) Total Assets minus Current Liabilities, and (2) Shareholders’ Equity plus Long-term Debt. It is important to note that different calculations can result in different Capital Employed figures, so when comparing companies or evaluating financial performance, it is crucial to use the same calculation method consistently.


Capital Employed is an important business/finance term because it serves as a key indicator of a company’s operational efficiency and overall financial performance. By measuring the total amount of financial resources a company has allocated to generating revenue and profit, it enables stakeholders, such as investors and management, to assess the effectiveness of resource allocation and utilization. It helps in determining return on investment, debt levels, and potential for growth. Moreover, it enables comparisons between similar businesses, thus providing valuable insights for decision-making and strategic planning that can enhance organizational competitiveness and sustainability.


Capital employed serves as an essential tool for assessing a company’s utilization of resources and profitability. Primarily, it measures the amount of funds invested to generate revenue from a business’s primary operations. In simpler terms, capital employed can be viewed as the financial value of a company’s assets, minus any liabilities or debts. By analyzing this metric, investors and business owners gain valuable insight into how effectively a company allocates its capital to generate income and grow over time. The purpose of evaluating capital employed is multifold, with one major aim being to determine a company’s financial performance. Comparing this metric across different companies within the same industry allows investors to identify potential investment opportunities, as businesses with a lower capital employed ratio may signal underutilized resources and potential growth. In addition, tracking changes in capital employed can help uncover trends that might suggest a company is either expanding or divesting. Furthermore, coupling this metric with other financial ratios like return on capital employed (ROCE) offers a comprehensive understanding of a company’s efficiency, enabling shareholders and management to make informed decisions about investing, asset allocation, and corporate strategy.


1. Apple Inc.: In Apple Inc.’s FY 2020, the company had total assets of $354.1 billion and current liabilities of $108.1 billion. By calculating the Capital Employed, we subtract current liabilities from total assets: $354.1 billion – $108.1 billion = $246 billion. Apple’s Capital Employed shows the valuable resources used in the company by equity holders and debtors for the year 2020. 2. Amazon: In Amazon Inc.’s FY 2020, the company had total assets of $321.2 billion and current liabilities of $115.8 billion. By calculating the Capital Employed, we subtract current liabilities from total assets: $321.2 billion – $115.8 billion = $205.4 billion. The Capital Employed indicates the amount of resources from equity and debt financing that Amazon utilized for its operations in 2020. 3. McDonald’s Corporation: In McDonald’s FY 2020, the company had total assets of $53.3 billion and current liabilities of $6.2 billion. To calculate the Capital Employed, we subtract current liabilities from total assets: $53.3 billion – $6.2 billion = $47.1 billion. McDonald’s Capital Employed signifies the resources invested by equity holders and debtors in the company for 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Capital Employed?
Capital Employed is a financial metric that measures the total economic value of a company’s assets and resources that contribute to its profitability. It includes the funds invested in fixed assets, working capital, and long-term investments of a company. This metric evaluates how efficiently a company is using its capital to generate profits.
How do you calculate Capital Employed?
There are several ways to calculate Capital Employed. The most common methods include: 1) Total Assets – Current Liabilities: The difference between a company’s total assets and current liabilities. 2) Equity + Non-Current Liabilities: The sum of shareholder’s equity and long-term debt, giving insight into a company’s financing structure.
Why is Capital Employed important in finance and business?
Capital Employed is a crucial metric as it helps investors and analysts measure a company’s efficiency in utilizing its capital resources to generate profits. It provides insights into the financial performance and stability of a business. Comparing Capital Employed over time or to industry benchmarks helps identify companies that are effectively managing their resources and investments.
How does Capital Employed differ from Capital Expenditure?
Capital Employed refers to the total value of a company’s assets and resources utilized to generate revenue, whereas Capital Expenditure (CapEx) represents the funds a company spends on acquiring, maintaining, or upgrading its fixed assets, such as equipment, technology, or buildings. Capital Employed is a measure of financial performance, while Capital Expenditure is a component of a company’s budget.
What is the relationship between Capital Employed and Return on Capital Employed (ROCE)?
Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) is a financial ratio that measures a company’s ability to generate profits from its Capital Employed. It’s calculated by dividing the company’s operating profit (or earnings before interest and tax, EBIT) by its Capital Employed. A higher ROCE indicates that a company is using its capital more efficiently, while a lower ratio indicates the opposite.
Can Capital Employed be negative?
In rare cases, Capital Employed can be negative if a company has more current liabilities than total assets or has negative equity due to accumulated losses. A negative Capital Employed indicates that the company is in financial distress and may not be able to cover its short-term obligations or effectively utilize its resources.
How can a company improve its Capital Employed?
A company can improve its Capital Employed by increasing its efficiency in employing its assets, optimizing working capital management, and investing in projects with a higher return on investment (ROI). It may also reduce non-performing assets, minimize non-essential costs, or access cheaper financing options. In turn, this will contribute to better financial performance and profitability.

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