An opportunity cost is a hypothetical cost incurred by selecting one alternative over the next best available alternative. Opportunity costs are relevant in business decision making. In addition, companies commonly use them when evaluating corporate projects.
For a capital investment project, a company should evaluate the expected return of the investment compared to the opportunity cost. Opportunity costs are also the expected returns of an alternative investment of equal risk. If you expect the project to yield returns above the opportunity cost, then it may be a good investment.
For example, imagine a company is currently renting out a warehouse. Then the company considers an investment that requires that warehouse. When evaluating the project, the company needs to consider the value of the rent it will no longer be receiving by using the warehouse in the new project. Then, subtract that value from the expected value of the project.
The concept also applies to investing in securities. For example, if an investor takes money out of a savings account to invest it in government bonds, then the investor should consider the opportunity cost of the interest the money would have earned in the savings account. They should especially do this when evaluating the expected returns from investing the money in bonds.
In economics, opportunity cost is any utility foregone by choosing one alternative over another. Furthermore, it does not necessarily refer to a monetary amount. When you are faced with two desirable and mutually exclusive choices, consider the value of the option not chosen an opportunity cost. For example, an opportunity cost refers to the satisfaction an individual would get from the leisure time that is sacrificed for time spent working. Or if an individual decides to leave a salaried job to go back to school, then the salary given up would be considered an opportunity cost.
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