Net present value

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In finance, the net present value (NPV) or net present worth (NPW)[1] of a time series of cash flows, both incoming and outgoing, is defined as the sum of the present values (PVs) of the individual cash flows. In the case when all future cash flows are incoming (such as coupons and principal of a bond) and the only outflow of cash is the purchase price, the NPV is simply the PV of future cash flows minus the purchase price (which is its own PV). 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. Used for capital budgeting, and widely throughout economics, finance, and accounting, it measures the excess or shortfall of cash flows, in present value terms, once financing charges are met.

The NPV of a sequence of cash flows takes as input the cash flows and a discount rate or discount curve and outputting a price; the converse process in DCF analysis - taking a sequence of cash flows and a price as input and inferring as output a discount rate (the discount rate which would yield the given price as NPV) - is called the yield, and is more widely used in bond trading.

Contents

Formula

Each cash inflow/outflow is discounted back to its present value (PV). Then they are summed. Therefore NPV is the sum of all terms,

where

The result of this formula if multiplied with the Annual Net cash in-flows and reduced by Initial Cash outlay will be the present value but in case where the cash flows are not equal in amount then the previous formula will be used to determine the present value of each cash flow separately. Any cash flow within 12 months will not be discounted for NPV purpose.[2]

The discount rate

The rate used to discount future cash flows to the present value is a key variable of this process.

A firm's weighted average cost of capital (after tax) is often used, but many people believe that it is appropriate to use higher discount rates to adjust for risk or other factors. A variable discount rate with higher rates applied to cash flows occurring further along the time span might be used to reflect the yield curve premium for long-term debt.

Another approach to choosing the discount rate factor is to decide the rate which the capital needed for the project could return if invested in an alternative venture. If, for example, the capital required for Project A can earn five percent elsewhere, use this discount rate in the NPV calculation to allow a direct comparison to be made between Project A and the alternative. Related to this concept is to use the firm's Reinvestment Rate. Reinvestment rate can be defined as the rate of return for the firm's investments on average. When analyzing projects in a capital constrained environment, it may be appropriate to use the reinvestment rate rather than the firm's weighted average cost of capital as the discount factor. It reflects opportunity cost of investment, rather than the possibly lower cost of capital.

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