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Net Present Value (NPV) is the difference between the present value of cash

inflows and the present value of cash outflows. NPV is used in capital

budgeting to analyze the profitability of a projected investment or project.

where

A positive net present value indicates that the projected earnings generated

by a project or investment (in present dollars) exceeds the anticipated costs

(also in present dollars). Generally, an investment with a positive NPV will be

a profitable one and one with a negative NPV will result in a net loss. This

concept is the basis for the Net Present Value Rule, which dictates that the

only investments that should be made are those with positive NPV values.

also use the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) metric.

Apart from the formula itself, net present value can often be calculated using

tables, spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel or Investopedias own NPV

calculator.

Determining the value of a project is challenging because there are different

ways to measure the value of future cash flows. Because of the time value of

money (TVM), money in the present is worth more than the same amount in

the future. This is both because of earnings that could potentially be made

using the money during the intervening time and because of inflation. In

other words, a dollar earned in the future wont be worth as much as one

earned in the present.

The discount rate element of the NPV formula is a way to account for this.

Companies may often have different ways of identifying the discount rate.

Common methods for determining the discount rate include using the

expected return of other investment choices with a similar level of risk (rates

of return investors will expect), or the costs associated with borrowing money

needed to finance the project.

it would first estimate the future cash flows that store would generate, and

then discount those cash flows (r) into one lump-sum present value amount

of, say $500,000. If the owner of the store were willing to sell his or her

business for less than $500,000, the purchasing company would likely accept

the offer as it presents a positive NPV investment. If the owner agreed to sell

the store for $300,000, then the investment represents a $200,000 net gain

($500,000 - $300,000) during the calculated investment period. This

$200,000, or the net gain of an investment, is called the investments

intrinsic value. Conversely, if the owner would not sell for less than $500,000,

the purchaser would not buy the store, as the acquisition would present a

negative NPV at that time and would, therefore, reduce the overall value of

the larger clothing company.

Let's look at how this example fits into the formula above. The lump-sum

present value of $500,000 represents the part of the formula between the

equal sign and the minus sign. The amount the retail clothing business pays

for the store represents Co. Subtract Co from $500,000 to get the NPV: if Co is

less than $500,000, the resulting NPV is positive; if Co is more than $500,000,

the NPV is negative and is not a profitable investment.

One primary issue with gauging an investments profitability with NPV is that

NPV relies heavily upon multiple assumptions and estimates, so there can be

substantial room for error. Estimated factors include investment costs,

discount rate and projected returns. A project may often require unforeseen

expenditures to get off the ground or may require additional expenditure at

the projects end.

Additionally, discount rates and cash inflow estimates may not inherently

account for risk associated with the project and may assume the maximum

possible cash inflows over an investment period. This may occur as a means

of artificially increasing investor confidence. As such, these factors may need

to be adjusted to account for unexpected costs or losses or for overly

optimistic cash inflow projections.

to net present value. It is much simpler than NPV, mainly gauging the time

required after an investment to recoup the initial costs of that investment.

Unlike NPV, the payback period (or payback method) fails to account for the

time value of money. For this reason, payback periods calculated for longer

investments have a greater potential for inaccuracy, as they encompass

more time during which inflation may occur and skew projected earnings and,

thus, the real payback period as well.

required to earn back initial investment costs. As such, it also fails to account

for the profitability of an investment after that investment has reached the

end of its payback period. It is possible that the investments rate of return

could subsequently experience a sharp drop, a sharp increase or anything in

between. Comparisons of investments payback periods, then, will not

necessarily yield an accurate portrayal of the profitability of those

investments.

alternative. Calculations of IRR rely on the same formula as NPV does, except

with slight adjustments. IRR calculations assume a neutral NPV (a value of

zero) and one instead solves for the discount rate. The discount rate of an

investment when NPV is zero is the investments IRR, essentially representing

the projected rate of growth for that investment. Because IRR is necessarily

annual it refers to projected returns on a yearly basis it allows for the

simplified comparison of a wide variety of types and lengths of investments.

3-year investment with that of a 10-year investment because it appears as an

annualized figure. If both have an IRR of 18%, then the investments are in

certain respects comparable, in spite of the difference in duration. Yet, the

same is not true for net present value. Unlike IRR, NPV exists as a single

value applying the entirety of a projected investment period. If the

investment period is longer than one year, NPV will not account for the rate

of earnings in way allowing for easy comparison. Returning to the previous

example, the 10-year investment could have a higher NPV than will the 3year investment, but this is not necessarily helpful information, as the former

is over three times as long as the latter, and there is a substantial amount of

investment opportunity in the 7 years' difference between the two

investments.

Money: Determining Your Future Worth and our Introduction To Corporate

Valuation Methods. For more on the relationship between NPV, IRR and

associated terms, see the section of our Guide to Corporate Finance called

"Net Present Value and Internal Rate of Return."

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/npv.asp#ixzz4KsUT2TI7

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