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22 Feb 2024

What is difference between CAPEX and OPEX in business?

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These are the two useful terminology what a strategic management professionals in pharma business.

Capital expenditures (CAPEX or capex) are expenditures altering the future of the business. An operating expense, operating expenditure, operational expense, operational expenditure or OPEX is an ongoing cost for running a product, business, or system.

Capital expenditures CAPEX are expenditures altering future of the business. An operating expense or OPEX is an ongoing cost for business.

Its counterpart, a capital expenditure (CAPEX), is the cost of developing or providing non-consumable parts for the product or system.

For example, the purchase of a tablet punching machine involves CAPEX, and raw material (active ingredient and excipients), power and maintenance costs represents OPEX.

In business, an operating expense is a day-to-day expense such as sales and administration, or research & development, as opposed to production, costs, and pricing. In short, this is the money the business spends in order to turn inventory into throughput.

Here are the key differences between CAPEX and OPEX:

Nature of Expenditure:

  • CAPEX: Capital expenditures involve the acquisition or improvement of physical assets that provide long-term benefits to a company. These assets typically have a useful life extending beyond one year, such as buildings, machinery, equipment, or software.
    OPEX: Operational expenditures are ongoing costs associated with running the day-to-day operations of a business. These costs are incurred to maintain the business’s current level of operations and are usually short-term in nature. Examples include rent, utilities, salaries, and maintenance costs.

Financial Treatment:

  • CAPEX: Capital expenditures are typically treated as assets on the balance sheet. These assets are then depreciated or amortized over their useful life, reflecting the expense over time.
  • OPEX: Operational expenditures are treated as expenses on the income statement in the period in which they are incurred. They directly impact the profitability of the business for that specific period.

Impact on Financial Statements:

  • CAPEX: Capital expenditures affect the balance sheet by increasing the value of assets. They do not have an immediate impact on the income statement but are reflected over time through depreciation or amortization.
  • OPEX: Operational expenditures directly impact the income statement, reducing the company’s net income for the period in which they are incurred.

Decision-Making and Planning:

  • CAPEX: Capital expenditures are usually associated with strategic decisions and long-term planning. Companies make these investments to expand their capabilities, improve efficiency, or enter new markets.
  • OPEX: Operational expenditures are part of the ongoing cost of doing business. Companies must manage OPEX efficiently to maintain day-to-day operations and ensure profitability.


  • CAPEX: Capital expenditures are generally less flexible in the short term, as they involve significant financial commitments and are tied to long-term strategies.
    OPEX: Operational expenditures offer more flexibility, as they can be adjusted more easily in response to short-term changes in business conditions.

In summary, CAPEX involves significant investments in long-term assets, impacting the balance sheet, while OPEX represents day-to-day operational costs that directly affect the income statement. Both are crucial for financial management and strategic decision-making within a business.

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