CAPM: What is Capital Asset Pricing Model

Understanding capm: definition, meaning & explanation of capital asset pricing model

What is CAPM (Capital Asset Pricing Model)?

The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) is a financial model that determines the expected return on an investment, given its risk relative to the market. Developed by economists William Sharpe, John Lintner, and Jan Mossin, CAPM is a cornerstone of modern financial theory and is widely used in finance for pricing risky securities and generating expected returns for assets.

Understanding the Capital Asset Pricing Model

The CAPM is based on the idea that investors require a return that is commensurate with the level of risk associated with any investment. It calculates this expected return by adding the risk-free rate to the product of the asset’s beta (its sensitivity to market movements) and the expected market premium (the difference between the expected market return and the risk-free rate).

The Formula of CAPM

The formula for the Capital Asset Pricing Model is as follows:

Expected Return = Risk-Free Rate + Beta * (Expected Market Return – Risk-Free Rate)

Applications of the Capital Asset Pricing Model

The CAPM has a wide range of applications in the field of finance. Here are some of the key uses:

  • Portfolio Management: CAPM is used by portfolio managers to calculate the required return for any given investment, helping them make decisions about which assets to include in a portfolio.
  • Capital Budgeting: Companies use the CAPM to evaluate investment projects. The model helps them determine the required return for an investment, which they can compare with the expected return to decide whether to undertake the project.
  • Security Analysis: Analysts use the CAPM to price risky securities. By comparing the security’s expected return (calculated using the CAPM) with its actual return, analysts can determine whether the security is overpriced or underpriced.

Limitations of the Capital Asset Pricing Model

While the CAPM is a powerful tool, it is not without its limitations. The model makes several assumptions that may not hold true in the real world. For example, it assumes that investors are rational and risk-averse, that there are no taxes or transaction costs, and that all investors have the same expectations about future investment returns. Despite these limitations, the CAPM remains a fundamental tool in financial analysis and portfolio management.


The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) is a key concept in modern financial theory, providing a method to calculate the expected return on an investment based on its risk relative to the market. While it has its limitations, its simplicity and wide applicability make it a valuable tool for portfolio managers, financial analysts, and companies alike.


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