# Net Present Value NPV: What It Means and Steps to Calculate It

Our manual calculation of net present value and Excel NPV assumes that cash flows occur at the period-end. If we want to determine net present value based on the exact date those cash flows occur, we can use Excel XNPV function. CIN equals cash inflow, COUT stands for cash outflow and T stands for tax amount. Taxes can be worked out by applying the tax rate (t) to the net income which equals cash inflows minus operating cash outflows less depreciation expense.

The 5% rate of return might be worthwhile if comparable investments of equal risk offered less over the same period. Unlike the NPV function in Excel – which assumes the time periods are equal – the XNPV function takes into account the specific dates that correspond to each cash flow. The net present value (NPV) represents the discounted values of future cash inflows and outflows related to a specific investment or project.

## Example: Same investment, but try it at 15%.

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. 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.

If the money is received today, it can be invested and earn interest, so it will be worth more than \$1 million in five years’ time. In the context of evaluating corporate securities, the net present value calculation is often called discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. It’s the method used by Warren Buffett to compare the NPV of a company’s future DCFs with its current price. 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 net present value rule is the idea that company managers and investors should only invest in projects or engage in transactions that have a positive net present value (NPV). They should avoid investing in projects that have a negative net present value. A project or investment with a positive NPV is implied to create positive economic value, whereas one with a negative NPV is anticipated to destroy value. Therefore, XNPV is a more practical measure of NPV, considering cash flows are usually generated at irregular intervals. A project or investment with a higher net present value is typically considered more attractive than one with a lower NPV or a negative NPV.

## How Do You Calculate Net Present Value?

The NPV formula assumes that the benefits and costs occur at the end of each period, resulting in a more conservative NPV. However, it may be that the cash inflows and outflows occur at the beginning of the period or in the middle of the period. The cash flows in net present value analysis are discounted for two main reasons, (1) to adjust for the risk of an investment opportunity, and (2) to account for the time value of money (TVM). The payback period, or payback method, is a simpler alternative to NPV. The payback method calculates how long it will take to recoup an investment.

1. Taxes can be worked out by applying the tax rate (t) to the net income which equals cash inflows minus operating cash outflows less depreciation expense.
2. Based on that, you may feel that the lump sum in a year looks more attractive.
3. For example, it’s better to see cash inflows sooner and cash outflows later, compared to the opposite.
4. Let’s look at an example of how to calculate the net present value of a series of cash flows.
5. The discounted cash flows are inclusive of the cash inflows and cash outflows; hence, the usefulness of the metric in capital budgeting.

Assume the monthly cash flows are earned at the end of the month, with the first payment arriving exactly one month after the equipment has been purchased. This is a future payment, so it needs to be adjusted for the time value of money. An investor can perform this calculation easily with a spreadsheet or calculator. To illustrate the concept, the first five payments are displayed in the table below.

## NPV Analysis in Excel (XNPV Function)

Present value (PV) is the current value of a future sum of money or stream of cash flow given a specified rate of return. Meanwhile, net present value (NPV) is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows over a period of time. To some extent, the selection of the discount rate is dependent on the use to which it will be put.

The US treasury example is considered to be the risk-free rate, and all other investments are measured by how much more risk they bear relative to that. For example, IRR could be used to compare the anticipated profitability of a three-year project with that of a 10-year project. Because the equipment is paid for up front, this is the first cash flow included in the calculation.

## Why is Net Present Value (NPV) Analysis Used?

Let’s look at an example of how to calculate the net present value of a series of cash flows. As you can see in the screenshot below, the assumption is that an investment will return \$10,000 per year over a period of 10 years, and the discount rate required is 10%. Net present value (NPV) is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows over a period of time.