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(Contributed by Deryl Northcott)

Capital Investment Defined
Who is Involved in Making CI Decisions?
Why Are Capital Investment Decisions Important?
Types of Capital Investments
The Capital Investment Process
What Information is Relevant to a CI Decision?
Financial Analysis of Capital Investment Projects
Accounting Concepts
- Payback Period
- Accounting Rate of Return
Economics and Finance Concepts
- The Net Present Value Method
- A Variation on NPV - Profitability Index
- Internal Rate of Return
- Discounted Payback Period
- The Winner - NPV
Issues in Using NPV Correctly
- The Timing of Cashflows
- Taxation
- Depreciation
- Taxation Investment Incentives
- Taxation Effects - Summary
- Inflation
- Capital Rationing
Using NPV - Summary
Using NPV - An Extended Example
People Are Important Too!

It is an unfortunate requirement that to make money, an organisation usually has to
spend money - the trick is always in spending it wisely. Making decisions about
what is and isn’t worth spending money on is never easy, especially where the
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368 Financial Management and Decision Making

expenditure is large and the returns risky, as is generally the case with capital

Capital Investment Defined

Capital investment (CI) can be seen as a sub-set of capital budgeting. Capital
budgeting refers to both the selection of long-term investments, and planning for
their financing. The Fisher Separation Theorem states that, in theory at least, the
investment decision is separate from the financial decision. There are special
circumstances when the investment and financial decisions are inter-related.
However, deciding which projects should be undertaken is sufficiently problematic
to warrant consideration on its own, and so forms the focus of this chapter.

Capital investment (CI) can be defined as follows:

Capital investment entails the making, communication and

acceptance of decisions about investment in long-term, risky capital

These decisions take place within the organisational context and impact upon the
strategic and operating position of the organisation, and also upon those people who
constitute the organisation. Therefore, we would expect CI decisions to take into
account the strategic and behavioural implications of the proposed investment, as
well as some rigorous examination of its financial effects.

Who is Involved in Making CI Decisions?

There is no one answer to this question. Evidence from practice suggests that a
variety of people may participate in CI decisions (Bower, 1970; Mukherjee &
Henderson, 1987), even though much of the prescriptive literature suggest that these
decisions are the domain of the accountant. It is common in practice to see any or
all of the following personnel contributing:

- accountants / financial managers

- operational managers
- line staff (who work with the capital assets)
- production personnel
- engineers
- specialist capital investment officers / committees
- general managers and boards of directors (who are often responsible for the
final decision to commit to large items of expenditure).

It is therefore rare for CI decisions to be made behind the closed doors of the
accountant’s office. Although accountants have a role in providing financial
analyses and advice, specialist technical expertise is often required to assess
potential investments.
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 369

Why Are Capital Investment Decisions Important?

Capital investment decisions are significant at two levels: for the future operability
of the organisation making the investment, and for the economy of a nation as a
whole. Capital investment directs significant resources towards particular areas of
economic activity. So collectively, CI decisions made by individual organisations
impact upon the future economic position of a nation.

At an organisational level, the commitment of resources to long-term capital assets

has implications for many aspects of operations. Capital investment may concern
the purchase or modification of plant and machinery, so the cost, range, quality,
innovation and leadership of products are all affected by CI decisions.

Types of Capital Investments

Capital investment projects can take many forms. Generally, they involve:

1. Replacement of existing assets,

2. Expansion of existing operations,
3. Strategic expenditure to develop new types of production technologies or
product lines, perhaps re-positioning the organisation in the market place, or
responding to some change in the operating environment, or
4. Non-financially motivated expenditures, e.g. safety, environmental or
legislatively required expenditures.

Depending on what the purpose of a CI is, the criteria for approving the project may
differ. For example, a risky, innovative project which launches the organisation
into a new area of operations will generally be expected to show a good financial
return. In comparison, a plant alteration required to meet health or safety
regulations may not be expected to achieve any financial return - it is a necessity,
and the focus will be on minimising the cost of achieving the legal requirements.

The Capital Investment Process

It is important to recognise that there are several ‘phases’ involved in making CI
decisions. The nature and relationship of these phases is shown in Exhibit 18.1.

Exhibit 18.1 A Capital Investment Model

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370 Financial Management and Decision Making

Strategic Planning

Formal CI Systems

Indentification of Project
Analysis and Monitoring and
potential definition and Implementation
acceptance post-audit
investments screening


Organisational personnel

Source: Northcott, 1992

First, potential CI projects must be identified. This requires both innovation in

generating investment ideas, and judgement in being able to recognise a good idea
when it appears! Once the initial idea has been identified, the project needs to be
defined and detailed. Here, it is important to consider all the implications of the
project, for example: How much will it cost? What are its financial and strategic
advantages? How will it affect the organisation’s operations? At this stage, it is
usually possible to ‘screen out’those CI ideas which are clearly infeasible, or which
may not be as good as was first thought.

Once CI ideas have been formulated and screened, the promising projects continue
on to the ‘analysis and acceptance’stage. Here, rigorous financial analyses are used
to assess the financial implications of a CI project (later in this chapter we will look
at the kinds of financial analysis which can be used). Normally, if a project meets
the requirements of financial analysis, it will be accepted, and then implemented.
Once the project is up and running, it may be monitored so that a ‘post audit’can be
conducted, looking at how successful the investment has been.

Exhibit 18.1 shows that this decision process has links to the strategic planning
function in an organisation, and to the personnel who make CI decisions, implement
the projects and work with the capital assets. Finally, it is important to recognise
that this decision making process takes place within the organisational environment,
and so is subject to the objectives, traditions and culture of the organisation.

All of this looks simple. However, practice rarely reflects tidy, structured ‘models’.
The phases of this process may, in practice, be interactive and iterative and may
occur out of order or not at all! However, this model presents a useful starting point
for considering the facets of CI decision making. Each of the phases is important,
and a successful programme of CI decision making should include elements of them
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What Information is Relevant to a CI Decision?

The short answer to this question is: anything that changes as a result of a CI
decision will be relevant to assessing the viability of that investment. That is, the CI
decision maker must identify relationships between the decision made, and the costs
and benefits which accrue from it either immediately or in the future.

Some typical examples of relevant information include:

- the purchase and installation cost of the capital asset,

- changes in revenues or costs,
- required increases in working capital items (e.g. inventory).

Getting this information is often more difficult than it would first appear. For
example, the purchase price of a fixed asset is often the only explicit component of
the initial outlay cost. Other less obvious costs might include installation, legal
costs, re-training of employees, redundancy payments associated with the
discontinuation of present employees and production set-up costs. Capital
investment decision makers must be careful that they have considered all the effects
of implementing a CI project.
A number of irrelevant factors are often incorrectly included in the analysis of
proposed CIs. Examples include:

- sunk costs (costs already incurred which cannot now be changed, no matter
what decision is made),
- future costs and revenues which would have accrued regardless of the
current CI decision,
- allocations of fixed costs (where the total cost to the organisation will not
change, even though the way it is allocated for reporting purposes may), and
- financing costs (already taken into account in the required rate of return
imposed on a CI proposal).

Again, asking the simple question: "Will these costs or revenues change as a result
of the decision made?" is usually enough to reveal their relevance (or irrelevance)
to the decision. Remember though - it can be difficult to predict what might happen
if the CI is not undertaken, so working out the changes caused by a project may not
be easy!

Once the information relevant to a CI decision is identified, financial viability is an

important factor in deciding whether or not to accept proposed investments in many
organisations. However, there are many more organisations for which profit results
and wealth generation are not of primary importance, but are merely means to an
end. Such organisations include central and local Government bodies and not-for-
profit organisations such as clubs, social services and charities. For these
organisations, the financial viability of a CI may not be a relevant criterion in
establishing its desirability. Investment decisions may be based on criteria which
are difficult to quantify, thus making CI decision making an especially challenging
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task in these organisations.

Although making money is not the objective of many organisations, in some

instances financial analyses can be a helpful input to their CI decisions. For
example, financial considerations may be relevant where more than one alternative
way of achieving a goal is identified and a choice must be made about which option
to pursue. Where financial analysis has utility, CI decision makers in all types of
organisations need to be aware of the range of decision support techniques available
for considering financial aspects of investments.

In the next part of this chapter, this range of financial analysis techniques is
presented after looking at the different theoretical perspectives of the alternative

Financial Analysis of Capital Investment Projects

There are two main views of financial performance measurement which form the
theoretical underpinnings of CI analysis techniques: accounting concepts and
economics or finance concepts.

Notions of stewardship and accountability, together with accounting concepts and

conventions, have given financial accounting a particular ‘view of the world’. From
an accounting perspective, long-term financial success is measured by profitability,
while short-term success places greater emphasis on liquidity.

These concerns of liquidity and profitability have formed the basis of two CI
analysis techniques: ‘payback period’ and ‘accounting rate of return’. These
accounting-based methods are popular in practice, especially among CI decision
makers in small and medium sized firms, and are often referred to as ‘traditional’

Economics and finance theory have introduced notions of financial success

concerned with the maximisation of shareholder wealth and the consideration of
risk. As CI decision making is concerned with effective resource allocation, it
follows that successful CI projects are those which add to the value of the firm, thus
increasing shareholder wealth. Following from this, a CI is acceptable if its
expected cash returns exceed its expected cash costs, so liquidity (the timing of
these cashflows) and profitability (determined for the financial reporting of these
cashflows) become less important.

The combination of assumed wealth maximisation objectives and risk

considerations has led to the development of CI analysis techniques quite different
from the ‘traditional’ accounting-based methods. These techniques are the ‘net
present value’, ‘profitability index’, ‘internal rate of return’ and ‘discounted
payback period’approaches.

How each of the alternative analysis techniques is used, and the strengths and
weaknesses of each approach will now be discussed.
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Accounting Concepts
Payback Payback period (PP) is concerned with liquidity. It is a short-term oriented method
Period which asks, "How soon will the CI project pay itself back?" The faster a CI project
can recoup its initial cost, the better. Payback period focuses on the cashflows from
a CI project, and the speed at which they are received, rather than on any measure
of profitability or overall return.

Decision makers using the PP criterion must decide on an acceptable PP time

horizon as a yardstick for assessing CI proposals. The greater the liquidity needs of
the investor, the shorter may be the acceptable PP time period. The selection of a
PP ‘cut-off point’is therefore arbitrary.

Example Calculating Payback Period

A firm is considering investing in a new computer system. The cost of purchasing

and installing the system is $6,000. The expected cost savings associated with the
computer system will improve as staff become more familiar with using it. The
pattern of expected cash benefits is:

Year Cashflow Cumulative Cashflow ($)

1 500 500
2 800 1,300
3 1,000 2,300
4 1,200 3,500
5 1,500 5,000
6 2,000 7,000
7 2,000 9,000
8 2,000 11,000

From the cumulative cashflows, we can see that the computer system’s payback
period is between five and six years. If we assume that cashflows accrue evenly
throughout the year, then the payback period is 5.5 years. Should the firm purchase
the computer system? The answer depends on the PP criterion they use. If the firm
has established a cut-off point of four years, then they would not purchase the
computer system. If, however, their cut-off was six years, then the computer system
is acceptable.

The PP analysis method has two major deficiencies. First, it ignores any cashflows
which occur after the project’s payback period. The benefits accruing from the
computer system in the previous example in years seven and eight could have been
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374 Financial Management and Decision Making

enormous, yet the PP calculation would have taken no account of them. This
deficiency reflects the short-term orientation of the PP technique. Therefore, the
use of PP as a decision making tool penalises those projects with inherently long
lives and promotes projects which produce rapid returns, even though those returns
may be modest and short-lived.

The second major deficiency of the PP technique is that it ignores the time value of
money. A modified version of the PP analysis method, called ‘Discounted Payback
Period’(DPP) has been proposed as a means of overcoming this problem, and will
be discussed later in this chapter.

Despite its deficiencies, payback period is often used in practice. PP analysis may
be useful as a first screening device where an organisation is concerned with
liquidity. However, PP should not be used as the sole basis for CI decisions, if the
intention is to maximise shareholder wealth.

Accounting The second of the accounting-based CI analysis methods is the accounting rate of
Rate of return (AROR). This method compares a CI project’s ‘profitability’ to the capital
Return employed in the investment. One of the difficulties of this method is that there are
several ways of representing ‘profit’ and ‘capital employed’. Alternative profit
measures can include or omit financing expenses, depreciation and tax. ‘Capital
employed’ can be either initial capital (i.e. the historic cost of the organisation’s
assets) or average capital employed.

However, the most common definition of AROR uses the ‘earnings before interest
and tax’ (EBIT) profit figure (which includes the effects of depreciation), and the
average capital employed. The ‘average capital employed’concept requires that we
know how much is invested in an asset at the beginning and end of its useful life.
This investment comprises both the value of the asset itself, and the value of any
working capital which is held in association with this asset (often this working
capital component is constant over the asset’s life). The concept of ‘capital
employed’is illustrated in Exhibit 18.2.

Exhibit 18.2 The Capital Employed over the Life of an Investment

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$ invested


wc = working capital employed

wc + pp sv = salvage value
pp = purchase price
n = the life of the investment

wc + sv


year n

Using this approach, the formula for AROR is given below:

average annual accounting profit

average capital employed

( Σ annual EBITS) ÷ n years

i. e
(initial outlay + residual value) ÷ 2

Where initial outlay = pp + wc

and residual value = sv + wc

Example Calculation of AROR

An asset costs $12,000 to purchase, and has an expected life of five years with a
salvage value of $2,000. Additional inventories costing $1,000 are required at the
time the asset is commissioned, but can be liquidated for $1,000 at the end of the
asset’s life. It is estimated that the asset will increase annual revenues by $5,000,
although it will create a straight-line annual depreciation expense of $2,000.

What is the asset’s AROR?

The annual pre-tax profit generated by this asset is ($5,000 - $2,000) = $3,000 for
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376 Financial Management and Decision Making

each of its five years of life. So:

Average capital employed:

= (Initial capital + terminal capital) ) 2
= [$13,000 + ($2,000 + $1,000)] ) 2
= ($13,000 + $3.000) ) 2
= $8,000

= $3,000 ) $8,000
= 0.375 or 37.5%

Like the payback period method, AROR is not without substantial flaws. This
method uses accounting profit, rather than cashflows, as a measure of return on an
investment. Inconsistencies in the derivation of profit figures (perhaps due to
changing accounting policies) can produce widely differing AROR results. Also,
accounting profits suffer from ‘distortions’such as depreciation expenses and gains
and losses on the sale of fixed assets. Although these items feature in the
determination of ‘profit’, they do not result in the actual payment or receipt of cash
by the organisation. And, since they are not actual cashflows, they have no impact
on the wealth of the investors.

The second major flaw of the AROR method is shared with the PP method - it does
not take account of the time value of money. The return on a CI is deemed to be its
average accounting profits, even though these profits occur in different time periods
and may change from year to year .

However, AROR is frequently used in practice as a CI decision support technique.

It may be that some CI decision makers prefer to analyse investments using a profit-
based measure. Often such an approach is consistent with the profit performance
measures to which managers are themselves subjected. Whatever the reason for its
use, the AROR approach is inappropriate for those organisations seeking to
maximise shareholder wealth.

So, it can be seen that the two main ‘traditional’ analysis methods are not ideal.
Although both are used in practice, they have serious shortcomings, and can lead to
incorrect CI decisions. These techniques have largely fallen from favour in the
normative CI literature, and have been replaced with the ‘sophisticated’ techniques
which find their roots in economic theory.

Economics and Finance Concepts

The Net The net present value (NPV) analysis method discounts all future cashflows from a
Present CI back to their present value, and compares them with the present value ‘cost’ of
Value entering into the investment. Hence, the ‘net’ present value is the difference
Method between the present values of the investment’s inflows and outflows.

The decision criterion used in conjunction with the NPV method is the same for all
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investments and all organisations: if the NPV is positive (i.e. greater than zero),
then the investment should be accepted. Conversely, if the NPV is negative the
investment should be rejected. A positive NPV indicates that an addition to the
wealth of the investors is expected. Theoretically, a decision maker would be
indifferent about a CI with a NPV of exactly zero. However, intuitively, a zero
increase in wealth is usually insufficient reward for the effort of pursuing the
investment, and so a zero NPV project would rarely be attractive.

In order to use the NPV analysis method, there are several inputs which must be
determined. Broadly the required information includes:

- the CI’s required initial outlay,

- the relevant future cash flows associated with the CI,
- the anticipated life of the CI, and
- the appropriate discount rate to be used.

As noted earlier, determining the initial outlay and future cashflows associated with
a CI is rarely straight-forward. Similarly, uncertain effects such as wear and tear,
obsolescence and changes in the activities of the organisation can render asset life
estimates incorrect. Perhaps the most problematic input is the determination of an
appropriate risk-adjusted discount rate - the choice of discount rate is crucial to the
outcome of the NPV analysis.

Example Calculating Net Present Value (NPV)

Vehicle Purchase Proposal

Porter Co. is considering purchasing a delivery vehicle at a cost of $16,000. An

employee will be trained to obtain a Heavy Transport Licence at a cost of $100.
Vehicle running costs are estimated at $3,000 p.a., but Porter Co.will save $7,000
p.a. in contract delivery charges. The vehicle will have a useful life of six years, to
be sold for $3,000 at the end of year six. Porter Co. requires a 12% rate of return
on this type of investment (tax and depreciation are ignored until later in this

Detailing the relevant cashflows using a ‘time-line’:

Cashflows Time 0 Yr 1 Yr 2 Yr 3 Yr 4 Yr 5 Yr 6
($00s) (now)

Purchase price -160

HTL training -1 -30 -30 -30 -30 -30 -30
Running costs
Savings on
delivery costs +70 +70 +70 +70 +70 +70
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378 Financial Management and Decision Making

Sale of vehicle +30

Total annual
cashflows -161 +40 +40 +40 +40 +40 +70

All initial outlay costs are said to occur in ‘time 0’ - i.e. now. Note that running
costs and savings on delivery contract charges are annuities continuing for the life
of the investment. Note also the implicit assumption that cashflows occur at the end
of each year. For example, the first year’s running costs are assumed to occur in
one year’s time, and will be discounted by one year to obtain their present value.
This assumption facilitates simple illustrations, and in practice, where it is difficult
to ascertain the exact timing of cashflows, such simplifying assumptions may be

Finding the vehicle’s NPV:

NPV = -$16,100 + (PV of an annuity of $4,000 for 6 yrs @ 12%)

+ (PV of a sum of $3,000 received in 6 years’time, at 12%)
= -$16,100 + ($4,000 x 4.1114) + ($3,000 x 0.5066)
= -$16,100 + $16,446 + $1,520
= + $1,866

So, the vehicle purchase opportunity has a positive NPV, and should be accepted.

A Variation The Profitability Index (PI) measure uses exactly the same discounted cashflow
on NPV - information as the NPV method. However, instead of finding the difference
Profitability between initial outlay and the present value of future cashflows, the PI approach
Index finds the ratio of these two values. A generalised formula for PI is:

Σ PVs of future cash flows

PI = Initial Outlay

For example, if we calculated the PI of the delivery vehicle proposal in the previous
example, it would be:

PI = $16,100

= 1.116

A PI of greater than 1 indicates an acceptable project, while a project with a PI less

than 1 should be rejected. The PI approach will always produce the same accept or
reject decision as the NPV approach, as it is simply a re-ordering of the same
information. However, PI has advantages over NPV where a firm is subject to
capital rationing, as will be noted later.

Internal Rate Internal rate of return (IRR) is another major CI analysis method derived from the
of Return theoretical perspective of economics. The IRR approach focuses on finding the
discount rate at which the NPV of a project would be zero. That is, the ‘IRR’is the
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rate of return earned by the project itself, and equates the present value of future
cashflows to the initial outlay. Simple examples illustrate this approach.

Example IRR Calculations

1. Simple returns:
You invest $1,000, and at the end of the year you receive an interest cheque for
$120. The IRR of this investment is easily found:

= 12%

2. Compound returns:
You invest $1000 in Municorp. shares. After holding these shares for four
years, you sell them and receive $1,810.60. The IRR of this investment can be
found by solving the following equation:

FV ($1,810.60) = PV ($1,000) ×(1 + IRR) 4

$1,810.60 ÷ $1,000 = (1 + IRR ) 4
. = (1 + IRR ) 4

At this point there are two choices: you can consult a table of compound interest
factors to find the four year rate which has a factor of 1.8106 (16%), or you can
solve the equation algebraically:

1.8106 = (1 + IRR)
(1 + IRR) = 1.16
IRR = 16%

In practice, finding the IRR of a project involves complex calculations. Now that
computers are widely available, IRRs can be automatically computed for a series of
cashflows. However, it aids our understanding of how IRR works to consider a
‘trial and error’ approach to finding the IRR of a CI project. Let us reconsider the
delivery vehicle purchase example. We can restate the problem in terms of the
IRR. To find the IRR, we set the NPV at zero and solve for the discount rate, that

0 = -$16,100 + (PV of an annuity of $4,000 for 6 yrs @ IRR%) +

(PV of a sum of $3,000 received in 6 years’time, at IRR%)

Without the help of a computer, there is no quick way to solve this equation. The
simplest manual approach is to repeatedly guess at the IRR until answers are
obtained which are close to the required zero. Once we have obtained a discount
rate which produces a slightly positive NPV, and a discount rate which produces a
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380 Financial Management and Decision Making

slightly negative NPV, then we can use linear interpolation between the two points
to find an estimate of the IRR which will give an NPV of zero.

Example Finding a Project’s IRR by Interpolation

(Based on example of vehicle purchase proposal)

The IRR of the vehicle purchase opportunity is the discount rate at which the NPV
equals zero, i.e.:

0 = -$16,100 + (PV of an annuity of $4,000 for 6 yrs @ IRR%) +

(PV of a sum of $3,000 received in 6 years’time, at IRR%)

The NPV of this project has already been calculated at 12% as +$1,866. Since this
result is positive, raising the discount rate will reduce the NPV. Re-calculating the
NPV using a 16% discount rate:

NPV = -$16,100 + (PV of an annuity of $4,000 for 6 yrs @ 16%)

+ (PV of a sum of $3,000 received in 6 years’time, at 16%)
= -$16,100 + ($4,000 x 3.6847) + ($3,000 x 0.4014)
= -$16,100 + $14,739 + $1,204
= -$157

With one positive NPV result and one negative NPV result, linear interpolation is
used to estimate the IRR. This can be represented graphically:


The IRR (NPV = 0)


Discount rate

Interpolation is based on the trigonometric relationship that:

(i) the distances between the two observed NPVs and the zero NPV point
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(i.e. $1866 and $157), and

(ii) the distances between the two trial discount rates and the IRR

have the same ratio.

Interpolating between the 12% and 16% results we find that:

 1866 
IRR = 12% +   × (16% - 12%)
1866 - (-157) 
= 12% + (0.922 × 4%)
= 15.69%

The IRR of 15.69% is much closer to 16% than to 12%, and this was obvious from
the NPV results. The 12% calculation produced an answer that deviated by $1866
from the desired zero point, while the 16% answer was only $157 off target.

It should be noted that linear interpolation provides only an estimate of IRR.

‘Linear’ interpolation assumes that the relationship between the two data points is
that of a straight line. This is rarely true. So, the closer are the two discount rates
used, the more accurate will be the answer, as a straight line will better approximate
the relationship over a shorter distance.

It can be seen that the IRR method, while using the same cashflow information as
the NPV method, presents a percentage return on the investment, rather than
measuring the investment’s net contribution to wealth. Research evidence suggests
that many practitioners favour the percentage expression of IRR (Pike, 1982).
However, it is thought that this preference is due to the mistaken belief that using
IRR removes the need to determine a discount rate. Of course, when considering
the acceptability of a CI project, its IRR must be compared to some pre-determined
required rate of return. So, even using IRR, the need to work out an appropriate
discount rate is not escaped!

There are also some weaknesses associated with IRR, arising both from its
mathematical formulation, and from the model’s inherent assumptions. The IRR
equation requires that a polynomial root (or solution) can be found which makes the
NPV equal to zero. However, there are cases where a series of cashflows has no
root, or multiple roots, as demonstrated in the following examples:

Example Cashflows with No IRR Solution

Time 0 Yr 1 Yr 2

Cashflow +$1000 -$3000 $2500

Because of the opposite signs of the cashflows in Yr 1 and Yr 2, there is no

discount rate which will produce a zero NPV for this series of cashflows.
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382 Financial Management and Decision Making

Example Cashflows with Multiple IRR Solutions

Time 0 Yr 1 Yr 2

Cashflow -$4000 +$25000 -$25000

This set of cashflows has IRR solutions at 25% and 400%, and would produce a
positive NPV at any discount rate between these two values.

In such cases, the use of IRR as a decision-support tool is problematic. Which IRR
is the correct one? A necessary (but not sufficient) condition for multiple IRR
solutions is that there is more than one change in the sign of the cashflows.
Typically, we see an initial cash outflow followed by a series of inflows over the life
of the CI. However, where there are further changes in the sign of the cashflows,
the multiple solution problem can occur. The possibility of multiple IRRs makes
this method less attractive as a CI analysis tool.

The second main problem with the IRR approach is that it can produce rankings of
CI projects which conflict with those obtained using NPV. This becomes a
problem where a firm must select between mutually exclusive CI projects, as
illustrated in the following example.

Example Conflicting Project Rankings Using IRR and NPV

Ratima Co. owns a factory. The company is considering investing in modifications

to that factory, and must choose between two options with the following cashflows:

(i) spend $40,000 now and receive $58,000 in 3 years’time, or

(ii) spend $40,000 now and receive $46,000 in 1 year’s time.

This factory modification is a one-off expenditure for Ratima Co. and no further
investment opportunities are expected for at least four years. Ratima Co. has a
required rate of return of 10%.

Calculating the NPV and IRR of these two options we get:

Project NPV(@10%) IRR

(i) + $3,576 13.19%
(ii) + $1,818 15.00%

Therefore, using the NPV rule we would accept option (i) as it has the greater NPV.
However, using the IRR rule (where both options exceed the RRR), we would be
inclined to select option (ii) as it has the greater IRR.

The different rankings result from the differing assumptions of the NPV and IRR
approaches, in this case best referred to as ‘opportunity cost’ assumptions. If
Project (i) is foregone, the investor forfeits a return (for three years) of 13.19%. If
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 383

Project (ii) is forgone, the investor forfeits a return (for one year) of 15%. While
the IRR of project (ii) appears more appealing, the NPV shows that on an
investment of $40,000, a 15% return for one year is worth less than a 13.19% return
for three years.

It is not appropriate to use the IRR approach for ranking mutually exclusive
projects. Clearly project (i) should be accepted, as it will make the larger
contribution to the wealth of the investor. Reliance on the IRR rankings would
lead to an incorrect decision in this instance.

The re-investment assumption of the IRR model causes problems where cashflows
accrue over the life of an investment. The IRR model assumes that all cashflows
produced by a CI can be re-invested at the IRR. This is often unrealistic. If a
project has an IRR of 20%, but market rates for investment are only 14%, then we
cannot expect to re-invest cashflows arising from the CI at the 20% rate. So, the
IRR method has overstated the return which will realistically be generated by the
CI. Using NPV no such assumption is required, as it is possible to vary discount
rates to reflect changing investment possibilities over the life of the project. Here
again, NPV is preferred over the IRR method.

Discounted When the payback period (PP) method was considered earlier, it was noted that a
Payback variation called the discounted payback period (DPP) improved this approach. The
Period DPP approach has all the perceived advantages of PP - it is easy to understand and
compute, and it allows the investor to focus on liquidity where this is appropriate.
But, unlike PP, DPP takes into account the time value of money. Therefore, the
DPP approach is a useful step towards the theoretically superior method of NPV,
particularly for smaller business managers who find the PP approach attractive.

The DPP method discounts each year’s net cash flow by the appropriate discount
rate and determines the number of years it takes for these discounted cashflows to
recoup the CI’s initial outlay. Because DPP recognises the time value of money, it
produces a longer payback period than does the non-discounted PP approach, and
takes into account more of the CI’s cashflows.

Another advantage of DPP over the traditional PP method is that it has a clear
‘accept or reject’criterion. Using DPP, a project is acceptable if it pays back within
its lifetime. An example illustrates the difference between the PP and DPP

Example Payback Period v. Discounted Payback Period

An investment, with an initial outlay of $20,000, produces net cash inflows of

$7,000 p.a. for six years.

Year Net Cashflow Present Value Cumulative Present Value

($) (@15%) ($)
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384 Financial Management and Decision Making

0 -20,000 -20,000 -20,000

1 +7,000 +6,087 -13,913
2 +7,000 +5,293 -8,620
3 +7,000 +4,603 -4,017
4 +7,000 +4,002 -15
5 +7,000 +3,480 +3,465
6 +7,000 +3,026 +6,491

Would this investment be accepted?

Using the PP method:

The PP is just under three years ($20,000 ÷ $7,000). Acceptance depends on
the chosen cut-off time: if cut-off is two years, would reject, if three years would

Using the DPP method:

The discounted payback period is just over four years. The investment would
be accepted, as it pays back within its six year lifetime.

Discounted payback period still does share one limitation with PP - cashflows
which occur after the payback period are ignored. However, since the DPP is
always longer than the PP, the DPP method ignores fewer of these cashflows. DPP
also conveys a sense of liquidity measurement which is not achieved using the NPV
method. Since PP is often the only CI analysis undertaken in smaller businesses,
switching to DPP is a step in the right direction for many CI decision makers.

The Winner- Financial analysis techniques do not provide all the answers in CI decision making.
NPV Organisations may have objectives which cannot be reflected in quantitative
financial analyses. However, where it is relevant to consider the financial
performance of a CI, there are several reasons why NPV provides the best means
for doing so.

Payback period is a useful first screening device, and AROR has some strength in
facilitating comparison of CI outcomes with profit performance measures. But,
only the discounted cashflow methods focus, as the name suggests, on cash (the
source of wealth) and the time value of money (the value of that cash).

NPV has none of the computational problems of IRR, and a combination of NPV
and PI can tell us both the value of the CI, and the significance of that return
relative to the size of the investment (which is useful when limited funds are
available for investment). The NPV also allows for additivity of CI values, whereas
IRRs cannot be added to achieve a sense of the total return to the organisation.

So, IRR can work, (but sometimes doesn’t and is complex), DPP is a step in the
right direction, and NPV is best! Since NPV is preferred, there are some issues that
must be addressed to ensure that it is used correctly.
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 385

Issues in Using NPV Correctly

The Timing A key aspect of using NPV is the recognition of the different timing of cashflows
of Cashflows from a CI project. In practice, cashflows may occur at any time throughout the
year, but for simplicity we assume that all cashflows occur at the end of the year.
For example, if considering a CI investment on 1 January 1993, and the first
running cost is to be incurred in July 1993, we would assume that this running cost
cashflow occurs on 31 December 1993, and discount it by one year to find its
present value. Such assumptions will, of course, slightly distort NPV results. For
major projects where the amount of the cash flow is significant it is, of course,
important to discount the cash flows by the exact number of days required.
However, it should be recognised that NPV can only ever be a decision support
tool. It can never provide an exact answer, as many of the cashflows are themselves
uncertain and must be estimated. The effect of simplifying assumptions about
cashflows usually has limited impact on the analysis.

Taxation Up until now the effects of taxation have been ignored, for simplicity. However, in
reality, tax has a significant impact on the cashflows of CIs. Where cashflows from
a CI change the amount of tax payable, then this is itself a real cashflow effect.
There are a number of ways in which these tax effects occur:

- when revenues (or reduced costs) from a CI increase profit,

- when costs (or reduced revenues) of a CI decrease profit,
- when a gain or loss is made on the sale of a fixed asset,
- when a CI is depreciated or written down, and
- when special taxation relief is provided as an investment incentive.

Tax Effects on Costs and Revenues

The first of these taxation effects is perhaps the most obvious. It is unrealistic to
consider only pre-tax cash revenues from a CI, as revenues which change reported
profits also change tax liabilities, and produce taxation cashflows. It is important
also to consider the timing of these tax cashflows. Most businesses pay tax one year
after the end of each financial year. So for example, a cost or revenue which occurs
in three years’ time will normally produce a taxation effect in four years’ time,
assuming (for simplicity) that all cashflows occur at the end of the year.

Example Tax Effect on CI Costs and Revenues

Hall Co. is considering purchasing a new packaging machine. The machine will
cost $52,000, plus installation costs will be $4,000. A $2,000 increase in inventory
will be required, which can be liquidated for $2,000 at the end of the machine’s 5
year life. The machine is expected to cost $26,000 per year to run, but will reduce
packaging costs by an estimated $60,000 per year. It will have a zero salvage value
in five years’time. Hall subject to a 35% tax rate.

Calculating tax cashflows:

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386 Financial Management and Decision Making

Only the increased costs and revenues appear in the income statement, affecting
profit and therefore tax. Both the asset price and installation cost are capitalised to
the asset account, and the increased inventory is a current asset rather than an

The relevant cashflows are:

Cashflows Time 0 Yr 1 Yr 2 Yr 3 Yr 4 Yr 5 Yr 6
Purchase price -52
Installation -4
Inventory -2 +2
Running Costs -26 -26 -26 -26 -26
Cost Savings +60 +60 +60 +60 +60
Increased tax* -11.9 -11.9 -11.9 -11.9 -11.9

TOTALS -58 +34 +22.1 +22.1 +22.1 +24.1 -11.9

* the tax effect is calculated as: (increase in profit) x (tax rate)

= ($60,000 - $26,000) x 0.35
= $11,900

and as profit has increased, so will the tax liability, producing a cash outflow,
assumed to occur one year after the costs and revenues themselves.

Gains or Losses on Asset Sales

If a CI project involves the sale of a currently held asset, further taxation effects can
occur. If the selling price differs from the asset’s net book value then a gain or loss
on sale occurs. Although not actual cashflows in themselves, gains will increase
profit thus increasing tax, and losses will decrease profit and reduce tax payable.
Again, it is normally assumed that such tax effects produce cashflows one year after
the sale of the asset, when the tax liability is payable.

Example Tax Effects from the Sale of an Asset

Angle Co. is considering replacing an old forklift purchased six years ago for
$50,000 with an estimated useful life of ten years. It has been depreciated on a
straight-line basis to a salvage value of $10,000. Angle Co. has a 35% tax rate.

Calculating the net book value of the forklift:

Bookvalue = Original Purchase Price − accumulated depreciation

 $50,000 − $10,000 
= $50,000 − 6 × 
 10 
= $26,000
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 387

Selling price scenarios:

(i) The old forklift is sold for $30,000 (cash received now):

Gain on sale = ($30,000 - $26,000)

= $4,000
⇒ Tax payable = $4,000 x 0.35
= $1,400 (payable in 1 year’s time)

(ii) The old forklift is sold for $15,000 (cash received now):

Loss on sale = ($26,000 - $15,000)

= $11,000
⇒ Tax break received = $11,000 x 0.35
= $3,850 (received in 1 year’s time)

When the sale of an existing asset forms part of a CI proposal, both the cash
received for the asset (i.e. its selling price) and the taxation implications of any gain
or loss on sale must be taken into account in analysing the cashflows.

Depreciation Although the purchase price of a CI is incurred at the outset of the investment,
financial accounting practice is to spread this initial cost over the life of an asset via
depreciation. When conducting NPV analysis, depreciation itself is meaningless.
The initial cash outlay occurs when the asset is purchased in ‘time 0’, and the
accounting treatment of the asset does not change that. However, as an asset is
depreciated over its life, that depreciation is recognised as an expense in the income
statement each year, thus reducing profit. And as we know, a reduction in profit,
though looking bad from an accounting point of view, is good from a cashflow
perspective as it means less tax!

Different countries have different ways of allowing asset depreciation for taxation
purposes. Some countries (like the UK) use ‘writing down allowances’ which are
established at a fixed rate. Other countries (including New Zealand) prescribe
allowable depreciation rates which a business can use to expense different assets in
the income statement. The following example shows an illustration of how
depreciation allowances affect taxation cashflows.

Example Depreciation and Taxation Cashflows

An asset is purchased by Taylor Co. for $100,000, and has a useful life of four
years. It is subject to a depreciation allowance of 25% on its diminishing value.
Taylor Co. is subject to a 35% tax rate.

Depreciation allowances:
Tax effect (cash inflow)

1st year $100,000 x 0.25 = $25,000 $25,000 x 0.35 = $8,750

2nd year $75,000 x 0.25 = $18,750 $18,750 x 0.35 = $6,563
3rd year $56,250 x 0.25 = $14,063 $14,063 x 0.35 = $4,922
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388 Financial Management and Decision Making

4th year $42,187 x 0.25 = $10,547 $10,547 x 0.35 = $3,691

The taxation cashflows resulting from the depreciation allowances would normally
occur one year after the depreciation expense is recognised. So, if the first
depreciation allowance occurs at the end of the first year of the asset’s life, the
timing of the taxation cashflows would be as follows:

Time 0 Yr 1 Yr 2 Yr 3 Yr 4 Yr 5

Initial outlay -$100,000

Depn tax effects - +$8,750 +$6,563 +$4,922 +$3,691

It is important to remember that if a CI project replaces an existing asset, then only

the change in depreciation is relevant to the NPV analysis. For example, if an
existing asset depreciated at $3,000 per year, is to be replaced with a new asset
having annual depreciation of $5,000, then only the increase in depreciation of
$2,000 per year is relevant to calculating taxation effects.

The taxation cashflows resulting from depreciation allowances can have a

significant impact on the NPV of a CI project. Therefore, it is important to identify
any changes in depreciation allowances so that the amount and timing of tax
payments can be correctly incorporated into the NPV analysis.

Taxation Sometimes Governments make special taxation provisions to encourage investment

Investment in particular types of capital assets. In these cases, depreciation allowances may be
Incentives accelerated, or there may be special ‘one-off’ tax credits in the year of the asset’s
purchase. It is in the interests of the CI decision maker to be aware of such
incentives, as they could impact on the viability of a CI project.

Taxation Taxation affects the NPV of a CI by changing its cashflows. This occurs because
Effects - real cash effects of a CI (e.g. revenues and costs) and the accounting treatment of
Summary CI effects (e.g. gains and losses on asset sale and depreciation) all impact on
reported profit and therefore change tax liabilities. A CI proposal cannot be
correctly analysed without taking these taxation issues into account.

Inflation Inflation affects the value of cashflows by eroding their purchasing power. Investors
want to be compensated for this reduced purchasing power of future cashflows, so
inflation is built into the discount rate used in NPV analyses.

A rate of return which includes an inflation component is a nominal rate. The real
rate of return removes the inflation component. It is important to distinguish
between real and nominal rates of return when discounting cashflows for NPV
analysis. Both the rate and the cashflows used must be consistent. Therefore, if a
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 389

nominal rate of return is used as the discount rate, then it should be recognised that
inflation will increase the nominal size of the cashflows over the life of the CI.
Alternatively, if cashflows are assumed to stay constant over the life of the asset,
then a real rate of return should be used. It is a common mistake to use inconsistent
combinations of rates of return and cashflows, resulting in incorrect NPV analyses.
If done properly, both approaches will provide the same result.

Capital It has been assumed up to this point that a firm will have sufficient funds available
Rationing to invest in any available project which has a positive NPV. However, due to
externally imposed restrictions, (e.g. hard capital rationing) or internally imposed
budgets (e.g. soft capital rationing) there may be only limited funds available to the
firm for investment. Where this is the case, a choice must be made between
positive NPV projects.

Here, the profitability index (PI) is more useful than NPV. While NPV shows the
value of an investment, PI expresses that value as a proportion of the initial outlay
funds required. Therefore, where funds are scarce, a higher PI project would be
preferred as it returns more per scarce dollar than a project with a lower PI.

A more sophisticated approach to selecting CI projects under conditions of single

or multi period capital rationing is the use of Linear Programming (LP). Linear
programming is a (usually) computerised mathematical technique. It calculates
‘optimal’ solutions where an objective (e.g. maximising NPV) is pursued under
constrained conditions (e.g. capital rationing), and can in its more sophisticated
forms, cope with probabilistic outcomes, multiple objectives and multiple
constraints. Linear programming is also useful where minimum liquidity and
profitability constraints must be met by a CI investment programme.

Using NPV - Summary

‘Real world’ complications make the financial analysis of CI projects difficult.
However, once the impact of these factors is assessed the NPV analysis method
(together with PI) can accommodate the effects of tax, depreciation and inflation
and lead to correct decision making where mutually exclusive projects exist. As
with most financial decision making, the hard part is predicting what the future
holds, but no CI analysis method alone can address this problem!

A comprehensive example to draw together the issues discussed, and to illustrate

how to conduct an NPV analysis on a CI proposal, may now be helpful.

Using NPV - An Extended Example

In this example, there are two machines: an existing machine, and a new machine
which could be purchased as a replacement. In approaching the information, it is
helpful to consider a CI project as having three types of cashflows:

1. Initial outlay (occurring in Year 0 - now)

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390 Financial Management and Decision Making

2. Annual incremental cashflows (occurring over the life of the investment), and
3. Terminal cashflows (occurring at the end of the investment’s life).

Constructing a time-line of the cashflows from an examination of the information

about the CI proposal assists in discounting these cashflows in order to find the
project’s NPV. The construction of a time-line makes the analysis easier to follow.

Information on the CI proposal to replace an existing machine:

Old machine New machine

Purchase price $200,000 $320,000
Expected useful life 8 years 5 years
Current age 3 years not applicable
Expected salvage value $0 $20,000
Depreciation straight-line straight-line
Pre-tax annual revenue generated $80,000 $180,000
Pre-tax annual running costs $20,000 $20,000
Inventory required $15,000 $25,000
Current resale value $100,000 not applicable

Note that inventory can be sold at the end of the assets’lives for its current value.

Tax rate 30%

Discount rate 10% (real, ie no inflation considered)
Timing of tax payments 1 year after the current operating year
Cost of rent for the machine site $27,000 p.a.

Identifying the relevant cashflows:

1. Initial outlay (Year 0):

Purchase of new machine ($320,000)
Required increase in inventories (10,000)
Sale of old machine* 100,000
INITIAL OUTLAY (cash outflow) ($230,000)

*Tax effect from sale of old machine:

Current book value = Historic cost - accumulated depreciation
= $200,000 - [ 3 x (200,000 - 0)/8 ]
= $200,000 - $75,000
= $125,000

Loss on sale = Book value - selling price

= $125,000 - $100,000
= $25,000

Tax break = loss on sale x tax rate

= $25,000 x 0.30
= $7,500 (cash inflow one year after sale of machine)
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 391

2. Annual incremental cashflows:

Pre-tax increase in profit = (increase in revenues - increase in

running cost)
= ($100,000 - 0)
= $100,000 (cash inflow in years 1 to 5)

Tax on increased profits = increase in profits x tax rate

= $100,000 x 0.30
= $30,000 (cash outflow in years 2 to 6)

Depreciation tax shield = (new depreciation - old depreciation)

x tax rate
= [ (320,000 - 20,000)/5 -
(200,000 - 0)/8 ] x 0.30
= ($60,000 - $25,000) x 0.30
= $10,500 (cash inflow in years 2 to 6)

Note that the cost of rent for the machine site is not included - it is irrelevant as
it will not change if the new machine is purchased.

3. Terminal cashflows (Year 5):

Sale of new asset $20,000

Liquidation of increased inventory $10,000
TERMINAL CASHFLOW (cash inflow) $30,000

Time-line of cashflows (in $000):

Year 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

Initial outlay -230

Tax: sale of old machine +7.5
Increased profits +100 +100 +100 +100 +100
Tax: increased profits -30 -30 -30 -30 -30
Depn. tax shield +10.5 +10.5 +10.5 +10.5 +10.5
Terminal cashflow +30

TOTALS -230 +107.5 +80.5 +80.5 +80.5 +110.5 -19.5

Discounted @ 10% -230000 +97727 +66529 +60481 +54983 +68612 -11007
(Σ) NPV = +$107,325

The opportunity to replace the old machine with a new machine has a substantial,
positive NPV. This financial analysis result can now be used as part of the
information (together with considerations such as strategy, market factors,
technology etc.) to arrive at an investment decision.
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392 Financial Management and Decision Making

People Are Important Too!

It is often forgotten that CI decision making is a human activity rather than an
objective, mechanical procedure. There are people behind the ‘process’. Capital
investment theory has tended to reflect an image of economically rational, profit
maximising decision makers with perfect knowledge and few emotions. Such
people can correctly use and interpret the sophisticated CI techniques proposed in
the literature, and will never make a bad decision simply because they are having a
bad day! A hopeful, but somewhat unrealistic scenario. Behavioural factors, both
at an individual and organisational level, impact on decision making practice. These
factors must be considered so that a complete, rich picture of CI decision making
can be achieved.

For example, it is usually assumed that the results of NPV analyses are used as an
economic input into CI decisions, reflecting projects’ financial viability.
Alternatively, a positive NPV result may be seen as a political bargaining tool.
Divisional managers who want to secure organisational resources (and political
influence) for their own division might point to a positive NPV project as an
example of the lucrative investment opportunities available to that division. Then,
not only are the analysis results assisting an economic decision, they are also being
used as ammunition in a resource bargaining situation which may produce a
political advantage for the division manager. In such cases, there may be a
temptation to make the NPV results look good, as a lack of attractive investment
opportunities would reflect poorly on a division’s future success. Which objective
then takes precedence? This becomes a function of the organisational climate and
of the individual decision maker’s preferences, and there may be no one right

The main implication of this is that CI decision making practice cannot be

understood without considering the organisational and political contexts within
which it occurs. CI decisions influence, and are influenced by, other aspects of
organisational activity. For example, there can be conflicts between ‘rational’ CI
decisions and performance evaluation systems. It is difficult in practice to ensure
that CI decision makers will aim to maximize shareholder’s wealth, unless they are
somehow motivated to do so. Therefore, performance evaluation systems need to
reward behaviour which promotes the economic goals of the organisation. This
means that performance evaluation of CI decision makers should take a long-term
orientation, and should focus on the criteria by which CI decisions are made (e.g.
NPV) rather than accounting performance measures. Also, people should be held
responsible for only those outcomes over which they have control. This can be
difficult where CI project implementation is removed from the initial decision
makers, or where decisions are made by groups of people rather than individuals.

It is also important that the CI decision making activity be integrated with the
organisation’s strategic planning. Capital investment decisions are long-term,
dictating major resource allocations which will affect the future direction and
activities of the organisation. Like other strategic decisions, CI decisions must be
responsive to the firm’s technology, goals and environment. These factors are often
uncertain and difficult to incorporate within quantitative decision models. So, it is
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 393

misleading (and potentially counter-productive) to focus only on the quantitative

financial tools used in CI analysis. The strategic success of CI decision making
requires a much broader focus.

When we look back at the model of the CI decision making process presented
earlier, it is clear that such a model can only be a simplistic representation of
practice. The model has no iterative loops, no intervention of external or political
factors in the process, and no recognition of the un-programmed ‘chaos’ which
often characterises decision making practice. This model does, however, provide a
starting point for considering the factors which contribute to effective CI decision

In the overall scheme of the CI decision making activity, the information provider is
both master and servant. Servant, because information must be provided which is
useful to those people who are charged with making the CI decision. Master,
because the information presented, and the way in which it is presented, can
significantly shape the final decision! In the end, it is people who will take action
based on the numbers. Both people and process are important, as both determine
success or failure in the CI decision making activity.

Glossary of Discount Rate/Required Rate of Return

Key Terms The rate that is applied to future cash flows to restate them in year zero dollars.

Discounted Cash Flow (DCF)

An approach to capital investment decision making that expresses future cash flows
in current dollar values. The two most common forms of DCF are Internal Rate of
Return and Net Present Value.

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

The discount rate that adjusts the sum of all cash flows associated with the analysis
to zero.

Net Present Value (NPV)

A method of evaluating future cash flows by adjusting the future dollars to year zero
dollars via a discount rate.

Payback Period
The period required for future cash inflows to equal the initial cash investment.

Present Value
The value in year zero dollars of a future cash flow.

Tax Effect
The reduction of revenue and expense items due to the tax rate, frequently used to
refer to the effect of non cash items such as depreciation on the annual cash flows.
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394 Financial Management and Decision Making

References Bower, J.L., Managing the Resource Allocation Process: A study of Corporate
Planning and Investment, Richard D. Irwin Inc., Homewood, Illinois, 1970.

Fisher, I., The Theory of Interest, Macmillan, New York, 1930.

Haka, S.F., ‘Capital Budgeting Techniques and Firm Specific Contingencies: A

Correlational Analysis’, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 12(1), 1987,
pp. 31-48.

Horngren, C.T. & Foster, G., Cost Accounting: A Managerial Emphasis, 6th
Edition, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1987.

March, J.G. & Olsen, J.P., Ambiguity and Choice in Organizations, Bergen,
Universitetsforlaget, 1976.

Mukherjee, T.K. & Henderson, G.V., ‘The Capital Budgeting Process: Theory and
practice’, Interfaces, Vol. 17 (2), March-April, 1987, pp. 78-90.

Northcott, D., Capital Investment Decision Making, Academic Press Ltd, London,

Pike, R.H., Capital Budgeting in the 1980s: A Major Survey of the Investment
Practices in Large Companies, The Chartered Institute of Management
Accountants (CIMA), U.K., 1982.

Selected Klammer, T.P. & Walker, M.C., ‘The continuing increase in the use of
Readings sophisticated capital budgeting techniques’, California Management Review, 1984,
pp. 135-148.

Patterson, C.S., ‘Investment decision criteria used by listed New Zealand

companies’, Accounting and Finance, Vol. 29 (2), November, 1989, pp. 73-89.

Pike, R.H. & Wolfe, M.B., Capital Budgeting for the 1990s: A Review of Capital
Investment Trends in Larger Companies, The Chartered Institute of Management
Accountants (Occasional Paper Series), London, 1988.
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 395


Firm X is replacing an old machine. The new machine costs $120,000, will incur $500 installation
costs and will operate in a workshop which currently costs $1,500 per annum to rent. The old machine
has an original purchase price of $80,000 and a current book value of $40,000. However, Firm X can
sell it for $65,000. The firm’s tax rate is 50% and tax is payable in the year that profits are reported.

Assuming that Wooltrue Company has a tax rate of 50%, and that tax is payable in the year profits are
reported, what is the ‘initial outlay’involved in the purchase of the new machine?

Wooltrue Company operates a knitting machine which cost $70,000 and has accumulated depreciation
of $45,000. The company intends to replace this machine with a modern version costing $120,000
plus $200 installation charge. With the new machine, wool inventories will have to be increased by
$4,000, but an immediate overhaul planned for the old machine (at $2,500) will no longer be required.
The old machine can instead be sold for $30,000.

Assuming that Wooltrue Company has a tax rate of 50%, what is the ‘initial outlay’ involved in the
purchase of the new machine?

Company Y intends to replace an old plant item. The old asset has an original purchase price of
$1,700, with accumulated depreciation of $1,100, but can only be sold for $400. If the replacement
plant item has a purchase price of $1,900, what is the total initial outlay in replacing the machine?
(Company Y is taxed at 50%, payable in the year profits are reported.)

A company purchases a new asset for $21,000 plus $250 installation costs. The expected useful life of
this asset is five years, with a $2,000 maintenance programme in year three. It is estimated that the
asset can be sold for $5,000 at the end of year five.

Expected after tax cash savings from use of the asset are $5,000 per annum for the five years. The
asset is to be depreciated at 20% straight line, and the company’s tax rate is 50%. Assume that tax is
payable in the same year that profits are reported.

a. Construct a ‘time line’ of the cash flows associated with the purchase and operation of the new
b. From your time line, what is the net present value of purchasing this asset, given a required rate of
return of 15%? Should the asset be purchased?
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396 Financial Management and Decision Making

Define ‘payback period’.

Using the payback period decision criterion, which of the following would be accepted, given a
payback cutoff of four years?

Project Amount Invested Cash flows

$ Yr 1 Yr 2 Yr 3 Yr 4 Yr 5

A 10,000 3,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 -

B 17,000 1,000 1,000 2,000 5,000 35,000
C 3,000 2,000 2,000 - - -

Name two limitations of payback period as an investment decision criterion.

Name two positive features of payback period as an investment decision criterion.

Describe the accounting rate of return (AROR) technique.

Calculate the AROR of project B:

Initial cost $10,000

Expected salvage value $2,500 after 5 years
Cash flows per annum $3,000 for 5 years
Pre-tax accounting profits p.a. $2,800 for 5 years
Company taxation rate 48%

Firm X uses AROR as an investment decision criterion, with a minimum acceptable rate of 25%. If a
proposed investment has an initial outlay of $15,000, expected life of six years and salvage value of
$400, what must be the TOTAL net profit before tax earned over the life of the asset to meet the
AROR selection criterion? (The tax rate is 50%).

What are the main disadvantages of Accounting Rate of Return as an investment decision criterion?

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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 397

Define ‘net present value’.

Using a net present value (NPV) decision criterion, would you accept an investment project with a
negative, positive or zero NPV?

Calculate the NPV of the following investment, given a required rate of return of 22%:

Initial outlay $18,000

Inflow year 1 $7,000
Inflow year 2 $8,000
Inflow year 3 $14,000
Outflow year 4 $1,400

Would you advise the firm to accept this investment opportunity?

A firm is considering the purchase of a new word processor system, at a cost of $4,000 plus $600
installation costs. It is estimated that such a system will produce administrative cost savings of $600
per annum (after tax and other effects taken into account) with an expected useful life of eight years.
In addition, existing typewriters with a nil book value can be sold for $300. Depreciation on the new
word processor system is allowable at a rate of 12.5% per annum straight line with an expected nil
salvage value. The firm’s tax rate is 50%. Assume that tax is payable in the same year that profits are

a. Using a six year maximum payback period criterion, would you advise the firm to purchase the
new system?
b. Given a 20% AROR as a sole investment requirement, should the firm purchase the system?
c. What is the NPV of this investment given a 20% required rate of return? Should it be accepted on
the basis of its NPV?

What is the definition of ‘Internal Rate of Return’?

a. Would you expect net present value, internal rate of return and profitability index to produce the
same ‘accept/reject’decision in evaluating a potential investment project?
b. Would you expect the three methods to produce the same rankings for acceptable projects?

a. Calculate the IRR for a project having the following cash flows:

Initial outlay $7,860

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398 Financial Management and Decision Making

Inflow in year one $3,200

Inflow in year two $4,600
Terminal flow year four $1,500

b. If the firm had a required rate of return of 15%, would such a project be accepted (assuming the
firm had no other investment opportunities)?

Consider two mutually exclusive investment opportunities, in a firm whose required rate of return is

Project A:
Initial outlay $21,696
Cashflow yr 1 $12,000
Cashflow yr 2 $10,000
Cashflow yr 3 $8,000

Project B:
Initial outlay $10,000
Receive cashflow of 2,000 for the next 60 years

a. What are the IRRs of projects A and B?
b. What are the NPVs of projects A and B?
c. What can you say about the project you would prefer to accept, given that both cannot be

What is a ‘sunk cost’? How should sunk costs be treated in the analysis of CI projects?

Outline the main differences between the ‘accounting’perspective on CI analysis, and the ‘economics’
type approach. Comment on the relevance of these two perspectives for CI decision making.

The managers of O’Flannigan Co. have traditionally used payback period and accounting rate of
return criteria for assessing CI projects. They consider a project to be acceptable if it pays back
within four years, and has an AROR of at least 18%. The following information relates to a CI
opportunity currently under consideration. O’Flannigan Co. is subject to a 30% taxation rate.
Assume that tax is payable in the same year that profits are reported.

Year Net pre-tax cashflow Depreciation expense


0 -$20,000 nil
1 +$10,000 $3,000
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 399

2 +$8,000 $3,000
3 +$7,000 $3,000
4 +$3,000 $3,000
5 +$2,000 $3,000

The project will have a salvage value of $1,000 at the end of year 5.

a. Calculate the project’s payback period.

b. Calculate the project’s accounting rate of return.
c. Would this project be acceptable to O’Flannigan Co?
d. You suggest to the manager of O’Flannigan Co. that the discounted payback period method would
produce an improved analysis. On the basis of this criterion, (using a 14% required rate of return)
would you recommend that the CI project be undertaken? Show your calculations.

Yeo Fragrance Co. is considering signing a contract with an advertising agency to promote one of its
products, Scented Body Lotion. The advertising agency requires immediate payment of $6,000, plus
an annual payment of $2,000 at the end of each of the next three years. The advertising agency
predicts that the Scented Body Lotion campaign will increase sales of this product by 3000 units per
annum for the next three years (while the campaign continues). Also, long-term effects from
improved consumer awareness are expected to produce increased sales of 2000 units per annum for
the following two years. Each unit of Scented Body Lotion sold contributes a positive cashflow of
$1.50, and it is assumed that these cashflows accrue at the end of each year of sales. Yeo Fragrance
Co. has a 14% required rate of return for its cosmetic products, and is subject to a 30% taxation rate
payable one year after each financial period.

a. Calculate for the advertising campaign:

b. Its payback period
c. Its discounted payback period
d. Its net present value, and
e. Its profitability index.
f. Would you recommend signing the advertising contract? Why or why not?
g. What other uncertain factors might you wish to investigate before making such an investment

The Arawa Meat Co. is required by new hygiene regulations to install stainless steel flooring in its
processing area. It is considering three options, all of which have an expected useful life of ten years
in meeting required hygiene standards:

Option 1: Low grade flooring: Initial cost = $15,000

Annual maintenance costs = $3,000
Annual cleaning costs = $4,000
Option 2: Medium grade flooring: Initial cost = $18,000
Annual maintenance costs = $2,000
Annual cleaning costs = $2,000
Option 3: High grade flooring: Initial cost = $24,000
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400 Financial Management and Decision Making

Annual maintenance costs = $1,000

Annual cleaning costs = $2,000

Using an NPV analysis with a 15% discount rate, which option would you recommend to the Arawa
Meat Co? (Ignore taxation and depreciation.)

Miller Industries Ltd. bought a lathe for $8,000 five years ago. The lathe has been subject to an annual
depreciation allowance of 25% on its diminishing value. If the lathe is now to be sold for $3,000 and
the company’s tax rate is 33%, what cashflows will be associated with the asset sale?

Belcher Co. owns a disused machine which was purchased ten years ago for $45,000 and has a current
written-down value of $8,000. There are two options available for this machine:

1. it can be sold to a scrap merchant for $3,000 payable immediately, or

2. it can be modified at an immediate cost of $14,000.

If the machine is modified, it is expected to become productive immediately and will generate a pre-
tax cashflow of +$6,000 per annum for the next four years. The cost of modifying the machine would
be capitalised and added on to its current written-down value. Depreciation allowances of 25%
(straight line) would then apply for the remaining four years of the modified machine’s life, at the end
of which the machine would have zero resale value.

Belcher Co. is subject to a 35% taxation rate payable one year after each financial year, and uses a
required rate of return of 12%.

a. Identify the relevant cashflows for each of the alternative machine options.
b. Calculate the NPV of each option.
c. What course of action would you recommend?

You overhear a senior manager say to her management accountant:

"You’ll just have to take those numbers away and do them again. The boss really wants
to go ahead with this project, and he’s not going to appreciate me presenting him with a
financial analysis which indicates a no-go decision!"

Discuss the way(s) in which accounting information is being used in this situation.

Suggest ways in which a performance evaluation system can incorporate the objectives of CI decision
making. Discuss approaches to, and problems of, measuring:
a. The ‘effectiveness’of CI decisions.
b. The contribution of individual decision makers to these decisions.
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Chapter 18: Capital Investment 401

Discuss the role of effective post audit.

What do you think might be the practical difficulties of incorporating a strategic focus within CI
decision making?
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402 Financial Management and Decision Making