NPV Advantages and Disadvantages
Net Present Value (NPV) is one of the discounted cash flow techniques used in capital budgeting to determine the viability of a project or an investment. NPV is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows over a period of time. The cash flows are discounted to the present value using the required rate of return. A positive NPV denotes a good return and a negative NPV denotes a poor return. Below is a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of NPV.
- It takes into account Time Value of Money
- Helps in Decision Making
- No Set guidelines to Determine the Required Rate of Return
- Cannot be used to Compare Projects of Different Sizes
- Hidden Costs
Let us now discuss each of the advantages and disadvantages of NPV in detail –
Advantages and Disadvantages of NPV (Explained in Detail)
Below are the NPV advantages and disadvantages with examples.
Advantages of using NPV
Following are the advantages of NPV(Net Present Value).
#1 – Time Value of Money
The primary advantage of using NPV is that it considers the concept of the time value of money i.e a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow owing to its earning capacity. The computation under NPV takes into account the discounted net cash flows of an investment in order to determine its viability. To understand how present value figures are important in capital budgeting, let us consider the following example –
A company is looking to invest $100,000 in a project. The required rate of return is 10%. The following are the projected earnings of project A and project B.
- Project A – Y1 – $10,000, Y2 – $12,000, Y3 – $20,000, Y4 – $42,000, Y5 – $55,000 and Y6 – $90,000.
- Project B– Y1 – $15,000, Y2 – $27,500, Y3 – $40,000, Y4 – $40,000, Y5 – $45,000 and Y6 – $50,000.
If the time value of money is not considered, the profitability of the projects would be the difference between the total inflows and total outflows, as depicted in the table below –
Judging by these figures, Project A would be considered profitable with a net inflow of $129,000.
In the same example, however, if the time value of money was considered,
*Discounted at 10%
It is evident that Project B is more profitable in terms of the present value of future cash flows with a discounted net inflow of $49,855. Therefore, it is essential that the time value of money is considered, to determine, more accurately, the ideal investment for a company.
#2 – Decision-Making
NPV method enables decision-making process for companies. Not only does it help evaluate projects of the same size, but it also helps in identifying whether a particular investment is profit-making or loss-making.
Let us consider the following example –
A company is interested in investing $7500 in a particular venture. The required rate of return is 10%. The following are the projected inflows of the venture –
Y1 – $(500), Y2 – $800, Y3 – $2300, Y4 – $2500, Y5 – $3000.
NPV of the project (as computed using the formula) = $(1995.9)
In the given case, the present value of cash outflow is higher than the present value of cash inflows. Therefore, it is not a viable investment option. Another advantage of NPV is that it helps to maximize the earnings of the entity by investing in ventures which provide the maximum returns.
Disadvantages of Using Net Present Value
Below are the Disadvantages of Net Present Value.
#1 – No Set guidelines to Calculate Required Rate of Return
The entire computation of NPV rests on discounting the future cash flows to its present value using the required rate of return. However, there are no guidelines as to the determination of this rate. This percentage value is left to the discretion of companies and there could be instances wherein the NPV was inaccurate due to an inaccurate rate of returns.
Let us consider a project with an investment of $100,000 with the following inflows –
Y1 – $10,000, Y2 – $12,000, Y3 – $20,000, Y4 – $42,000, Y5 – $55,000 and Y6 – $90,000.
The following table depicts the changes to the NPV when a different rate of return is chosen by the company –
As depicted in the above table, changes in the rate of return have a direct impact on the NPV values.
Another disadvantage is that NPV does not take into account any changes in the rate of returns. The rate of return is considered stable over the span of a project and any variations in the rate of returns would require fresh NPV computation.
#2 – Cannot be used to Compare Projects of Different Sizes
Another disadvantage of NPV is that it cannot be used to compare projects of different size. NPV is an absolute figure and not a percentage. Therefore, the NPV of larger projects would inevitably be higher than a project of a smaller size. The returns of the smaller project may be higher in relation to its investment but overall the NPV value might be lower. Let us understand this better with the following example –
- Project A requires an investment of $250,000 and has an NPV of $197,000 whereas,
- Project B requires an investment of $50,000 and has an NPV of $65,000.
Judging by the absolute figures, one may conclude that project A is more profitable, however, project B has a higher return in relation to its investment. Therefore, projects of different sizes cannot be compared using NPV.
#3 – Hidden Costs
NPV only takes into account the cash inflows and outflows of a particular project. It does not take into account any hidden costs, sunk costs or other preliminary costs incurred in relation to the particular project. Therefore, the profitability of the project may not be highly accurate.
This has been a guide to Advantages and Disadvantages of NPV. Here we discuss NPV formula along with examples to explain the advantages and disadvantages of Net present value. You can learn more about financing from the following articles –
- What is Net Cash Flow Formula?
- Dollar-Cost Averaging
- Modified Dietz
- Top NPV Examples
- Calculate NPV Profile
- NPV Excel Formula
- Compare NPV vs IRR
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