CAPEX vs. OPEX: What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between capex and opex?

CapEx vs OpEx explanation

What is OPEX?

Operational expenses, also known as OPEX, are ongoing costs a business faces every day. These costs assist a business in providing its goods or services to clients in the future. Analyzing these costs can assist a business in determining its efficiency and profitability. Common examples of operating expenses include:

What is CAPEX?

Large purchases of goods or services are referred to as capital expenditures, or CAPEX, projects. Many businesses carry out CAPEX projects to enhance their financial performance, capacity for production, or level of manufacturing. Fixed company assets like plant, property, and equipment (PP&E) are frequently used in expenditures. Capital investment initiatives assist a business in enhancing performance over time, typically longer than one fiscal year. Common examples of CAPEX projects include:


Examine the main distinctions between CAPEX and OPEX to gain a deeper understanding of these financial concepts:


Although both costs assist a business in optimizing its operations, each cost has a different scope. Large-scale investments known as CAPEX projects are those that a business anticipates will significantly affect its output and profitability. OPEX are the ongoing costs an organization faces on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis.

Payment timelines

Companies incur and pay all CAPEX expenses upfront. This can assist in funding and constructing the facility, asset, or piece of machinery that a business has determined will improve operations. Companies typically pay operational expenses when they become due, which is typically once a week, once a month, or once a year.

Approval process

Before the company can start working on CAPEX projects, there are frequently significant research, paperwork, and executive approval requirements. This is due to the fact that an organization wants to learn more about the advantages of a CAPEX project before investing money into it. OPEX frequently constitutes short-term expenditures that a company already recognizes, necessitating little need for approval. Companies can predict these operating costs and determine whether any of them deviate from historical norms.

Company control

CAPEX projects give the company more control over the final product because they involve owning a piece of equipment or property. If they already have support teams in place to handle any issues, this is beneficial. For instance, a business might have an IT team in place to handle any computer-related issues if it buys a new machine with computer-aided software. Instead of using a third-party vendor to resolve any computer-related issues, this can give them more control over their device.

A company has less control over a leased asset when it leases a piece of machinery or real estate as an operating expense. For instance, if a business leased new computers for its office, it could advise the leasing company on the software it needs to run its operations. Other elements, like security software and user access, would be under the control of the owner. Because the owning organization provides the necessary IT support for the leased computers, this is advantageous if an organization only has a small IT team.

Accounting procedures

Businesses include CAPEX projects in their cash flow statement even though they are not tax deductible. This is due to the fact that the business cannot fully deduct the new asset during the accounting period in which the business incurred it. Newly acquired assets frequently depreciate over several years. Accounting for these assets can help a business keep track of the depreciation of its assets and give stakeholders and investors more information about the financial health of the company. Businesses include their deductible operational costs in their income statements. This is so that they may fully deduct or pay the costs during the time that the business incurred them.


Due to the significant amounts that CAPEX projects frequently require, businesses frequently set aside funds for them. Companies frequently only approve a small number of CAPEX projects each fiscal year due to these high costs. Some ways a company budgets for CAPEX projects include:

By reviewing previous operating expenses and accounting for inflation, businesses can frequently predict future operating expenses. Understanding operating costs can assist a company in predicting revenue and profit for the current quarter or the upcoming year. Some ways an organization budgets for OPEX include:

Use for investors

Investors also assess an organization’s financial health using CAPEX and OPEX in different ways. To determine how much cash flow a company devotes to capital expenditures, investors and other stakeholders compare CAPEX to operating cash ratios. Higher ratios may indicate aggressive growth strategies, while lower ratios may indicate that an organization has matured.

Stakeholders examine OPEX to learn more about how a company spends its money. By comparing the companies’ OPEX to net sales, it can also assist them in determining the management team’s effectiveness. A lower ratio may indicate that a business is generating more sales and revenue.

Example of an income statement

You can learn how an organization keeps track of its operating expenses by looking at the following income statement example:

RJ Manufacturing and Sons
Income Statement
December 31, 2021

Example of a consolidated balance sheet

You can learn more about how a company keeps track of its capital expenditures by looking at an illustration of a consolidated balance sheet:

Tennant Industries
Consolidated Balance Sheet
December 31, 2021



Is laptop OpEx or CapEx?

In the past, businesses that wanted to invest in IT hardware, such as new laptops or PCs, would pay for it up front through capital expenditures (CAPEX). Any significant financial investment, such as those in infrastructure, real estate, software licenses, and equipment, is referred to as a CAPEX investment.

Is maintenance a CapEx or OpEx?

A company’s investment in fixed assets, such as the purchase, upkeep, and improvement of land, vehicles, equipment, or buildings, is known as capital expenditures (CapEx). This is also referred to as PP&E, or property, plant, and equipment.

What is OpEx and CapEx for budgeting?

Investing in new machinery, facilities, or inventory are examples of planned capital expenditures (capex) that are anticipated to pay off in the future. Operating expenses, also known as opex, are your company’s ongoing costs.

Is software considered OpEx or CapEx?

Licenses for enterprise software are CAPEX, but yearly maintenance costs are OPEX. Functional design is OPEX, and technical design is CAPEX.

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