# Net Present Value NPV Rule: Definition, Use, and Example

Net present value (NPV) is the present value of all future cash flows of a project or investment in excess of the initial amount invested. The future cash flows are discounted at the company’s cost of capital, adjusted for specific risk to the investment. To estimate the current value of future cash flows, a business or investor can use discounted cash flow analysis (DCF) which applies a discount rate to those future cash values . Because the output of a DCF analysis is the present value of future cash flow, it is also a common way analysts and investors measure the value of a company.

The internal rate of return (IRR) is calculated by solving the NPV formula for the discount rate required to make NPV equal zero. This method can be used to compare projects of different time spans on the basis of their projected return rates. While the PV value is useful, the NPV calculation is invaluable to capital budgeting. A project with a high PV figure may actually have a much less impressive NPV if a large amount of capital is required to fund it.

The full calculation of the present value is equal to the present value of all 60 future cash flows, minus the \$1 million investment. The calculation could be more complicated if the equipment was expected to have any value left at the end of its life, but in this example, it is assumed to be worthless. Finally, a terminal value is used to value the company beyond the forecast period, and all cash flows are discounted back to the present at the firm’s weighted average cost of capital. To learn more, check out CFI’s free detailed financial modeling course.

## Introducing CRE Investment Analysis Fundamentals

However, this time we are using a 12% discount rate instead of an 8% discount rate. As shown above, each future cash flow is discounted back to the present time at a 12% discount rate. Then each of these present values are added up and netted against the original investment amount of \$100,000, resulting in an NPV of -\$7,210. The payback period, or payback method, is a different methodology that calculates the time required to recoup the money invested in a project or investment, or to reach the break-even point. However, unlike the NPV calculation, the payback method does not account for the time value of money. NPV is calculated by determining the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows, over a period of time.

If the net present value is positive, the investment may be worth pursuing. Since the value of revenue earned today is higher than that of revenue earned down the road, businesses discount future income by the investment’s expected rate of return. This rate, called the hurdle rate, is the minimum rate of return a project must generate for the business to consider investing in it. A more simple example of the net present value of incoming cash flow over a set period of time, would be winning a Powerball lottery of \$500 million. The rate used to discount future cash flows to the present value is a key variable of this process.

## NPV vs. Payback Period

NPV is an indicator for project investments, and has several advantages and disadvantages for decision-making. Organizing your cash flows into a table allows for you to easily see what is going on as well. When you hit enter, the function will return the NPV value of \$113,122, the same value we calculated previously using the formula. This means that year 3 has a cash flow of \$40,00 like year 1 and 2, but it also has a cash flow of \$500,000 from the entire sale.

1. The final result is that the value of this investment is worth \$61,446 today.
2. For example, receiving \$1 million today is much better than the \$1 million received five years from now.
3. Discounting refers to the time value of money and the fact that it’s generally better to have money now than to receive the same amount of money in the future.
4. Alternatively, the company could invest that money in securities with an expected annual return of 8%.

NPV is a central tool in discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis and is a standard method for using the time value of money to appraise long-term projects. It is widely used throughout economics, financial analysis, and financial accounting. The discount rate is an percentage rate used in discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis to calculate the present value of future cash flows.

## How Investors Use & Analyze NPV

If the intent is simply to determine whether a project will add value to the company, using the firm’s weighted average cost of capital may be appropriate. If trying to decide between alternative investments in order to maximize the value of the firm, the corporate reinvestment rate would probably be a better choice. Unlike other metrics, NPV takes into account the time value of money. It uses the company’s discount rate, adjusted for risk, and looks at the cash inflows and outflows of a potential investment. In this second example, the same process is followed to calculate the net present value.

## Example of Calculating NPV

Once you understand how NPV works step-by-step, it’s easy to see that NPV is simply value minus cost. Fill out the quick form below and we’ll email you our free NPV calculator. You can use our NPV calculator to quickly calculate NPV for any holding period you need. You can also visualize what your cash flows are doing in each period of the analysis.

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