Capital expenditures are a line item from a company's statement of cash flows (click "Learn More" below for details).
Capex (short for capital expenditures) are incurred when a business spends money to purchase fixed assets or to add value to an existing fixed asset. In accounting, a capital expenditures are added to an asset account, thus increasing the value of the asset.
Examples of capital expenditures include the purchase of a new manufacturing plant, investment in server farms for tech companies, or other purchases of assets expected to help the company earn profits in the future.
Unlike other investments like research and development and marketing spending, capital expenditures are not immediately expensed. Rather, property, plant and equipment acquired using capital expenditures are usually expensed over time through the use of depreciation.
Because of how data is provided to YCharts, we estimate capital expenditures by looking at the line item "Net Change in Property, Plant and Equipment." Hence, in years when a company sells property and purchases new property, capex will be understated.