In practice what are the factors managers consider in setting a firm's target capital structure?
A firm's long-term success depends upon the firm's investments earning a sufficient rate of return. This sufficient or minimum rate of return necessary for a firm to succeed is called the cost of capital. The cost of capital can also be viewed as the minimum rate of return required keeping investors satisfied. A firm's optimal capital structure is that mixture of debt and equity than minimizes its weighted average cost of capital (WACC). Since the after-tax cost of debt is lower than equity for many corporations, why not use debt only or mostly? It turns out that, while debt reduces a company's tax liability because interest payments are deductible expenses, increasing amounts of debt raise both the cost of equity capital and the interest rate on debt because of the increasing probability of bankruptcy. In other words, higher amounts of debt raise the financial risk of a company, and this risk is reflected on the cost of all the types of capital the company uses. As such, the relationship between financial leverage and WACC is not a straight line, but more of a U-shaped curve, with a minimum WACC between the extremes of debt utilization.
Thus the objective of the capital structure management is that mixture of debt and equity than minimizes its weighted average cost of capital (WACC).
Factors which go in determining right mix:
The Nature of Agency Cost of Debt
The agency cost of debt ...
This discusses the factors managers consider in setting a firm's target capital structure