Discounted Payback Period: Definition, Formula & Calculation

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DateJun 22, 2023

It enables firms to compare projects based on their payback cutoff to decide which is most worth it. Others like to use it as an additional point of reference in a capital budgeting decision framework. Many managers and investors thus prefer to use NPV as a tool for making investment decisions. The NPV is the difference between the present value of cash coming in and the current value of cash going out over a period of time.

The discounted payback period is calculated
by discounting the net cash flows of each and every period and cumulating the
discounted cash flows until the amount of the initial investment is met. This requires the use of a discount
rate which can be either a market interest rate or an expected return. Some
organizations may also choose to apply an accounting interest rate or their
weighted average cost of capital.

Discounted payback period refers to the number of years it takes for the present value of cash inflows to equal the initial investment. Essentially, you can determine how long you’re going to need until your original investment amount is equal to other cash flows. We will also cover the formula to calculate it and some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages. In this example, the cumulative discounted
cash flow does not turn positive at all. In other words, the investment will not be recovered
within the time horizon of this projection. The initial outflow of cash flows is worth more right now, given the opportunity cost of capital, and the cash flows generated in the future are worth less the further out they extend.

  1. Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers.
  2. The cash flow balance in year zero is negative as it marks the initial outlay of capital.
  3. Specialties include general financial planning, career development, lending, retirement, tax preparation, and credit.
  4. We will also cover the formula to calculate it and some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages.
  5. In particular, the added step of discounting a project’s cash flows is critical for projects with prolonged payback periods (i.e., 10+ years).
  6. Due to the discounting of cash flows, these two similar calculations may not yield the same result because of compound interest.

The calculator below helps you calculate the discounted payback period based on the amount you initially invest, the discount rate, and the number of years. Machine X would cost $25,000 and would have a useful life of 10 years with zero salvage value. The payback period is a fundamental capital budgeting tool in corporate finance, and perhaps the simplest method for evaluating the feasibility of undertaking a potential investment or project. To calculate discounted payback period, you need to discount all of the cash flows back to their present value. The present value is the value of a future payment or series of payments, discounted back to the present.

Payback Period Calculation Example

Conceptually, the payback period is the amount of time between the date of the initial investment (i.e., project cost) and the date when the break-even point has been reached. To calculate payback period with irregular cash flows, you will need to calculate the present value of each cash flow. When using this metric, it’s important to keep in mind that a longer payback period doesn’t necessarily mean an investment is bad. You should also consider factors such as money’s time value and the overall risk of the investment. In any case, the decision for a project option or an investment decision should not be based on a single type of indicator.

Logistics Calculators

The payback period disregards the time value of money and is determined by counting the number of years it takes to recover the funds invested. For example, if it takes five years to recover the cost of an investment, the payback period is five years. Average cash flows represent the money going into and out of the investment. Inflows are any items that go into the investment, such as deposits, dividends, or earnings.

Disadvantages of Discounted Payback Period

For example, an investor may determine the net present value (NPV) of investing in something by discounting the cash flows they expect to receive in the future using an appropriate discount rate. It’s similar to determining how much money the investor currently needs to invest at this same rate in order to get the same cash flows at the same time in the future. Discount rate is useful because it can take future expected payments from different periods and discount everything to a single point in time for comparison purposes. The main advantage is that the metric takes into account money’s time value.

To make the best decision about whether to pursue a project or not, a company’s management needs to decide which metrics to prioritize. Without considering the time value of money, it is difficult or impossible to determine which project is worth considering. Projecting a break-even time in years means little if the after-tax cash flow estimates don’t materialize. The payback period for this project is 3.375 nonprofit needs assessment years which is longer than the maximum desired payback period of the management (3 years). When deciding on which project to undertake, a company or investor wants to know when their investment will pay off, i.e., when the project’s cash flows cover the project’s costs. The table is structured the same as the previous example, however, the cash flows are discounted to account for the time value of money.

In capital budgeting, the payback period is defined as the amount of time necessary for a company to recoup the cost of an initial investment using the cash flows generated by an investment. Assume that Company A has a project requiring an initial cash outlay of $3,000. The project is expected to return $1,000 each period for the next five periods, and the appropriate discount rate is 4%. The discounted payback period calculation begins with the -$3,000 cash outlay in the starting period. The payback period is the amount of time (usually measured in years) it takes to recover an initial investment outlay, as measured in after-tax cash flows. It is an important calculation used in capital budgeting to help evaluate capital investments.

The shorter the discounted payback period, the quicker the project generates cash inflows and breaks even. While comparing two mutually exclusive projects, the one with the shorter discounted payback period should be accepted. The payback period is calculated by dividing the initial capital outlay of an investment by the annual cash flow.

The discounted payback period has a similar purpose as the payback period which is to determine how long it takes until an initial investment is amortized through the cash flows generated by this asset. These two calculations, although similar, may not return the same result due to the discounting of cash flows. For example, projects with higher cash flows toward the end of a project’s life will experience greater discounting due to compound interest. For this reason, the payback period may return a positive figure, while the discounted payback period returns a negative figure. The period of time that a project or investment takes for the present value of future cash flows to equal the initial cost provides an indication of when the project or investment will break even. The point after that is when cash flows will be above the initial cost.

Second, we must subtract the discounted cash flows from the initial cost figure to calculate. So, once we calculate the discounted cash flows for each project period, we can subtract those discounted cash flows from the initial cost until we reach zero. In its simplest form, the formula to calculate the payback period involves dividing the cost of the initial investment by the annual cash flow. The project has an initial investment of $1,000 and will generate annual cash flows of $200 for the next 5 years. The discounted payback period is a measure
of how long it takes until the cumulated discounted net cash flows offset the
initial investment in an asset or a project.

The company should therefore refrain from investing its funds in such project. The payback period is the time it takes an investment to break even (generate enough cash flows to cover the initial cost). Certain businesses have a payback cutoff which is essential to consider when proceeding with investment projects. The discounted payback period involves using discounted cash inflows rather than regular cash inflows.

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