The discounted payback period is used to evaluate the profitability and timing of cash inflows of a project or investment. In this metric, future cash flows are estimated and adjusted for the time value of money. It is the period of time that a project takes to generate cash flows when the cumulative present value of the cash flows equals the initial investment cost.

As seen from the graph below, the initial investment is fully offset by positive cash flows somewhere between periods 2 and 3. In its simplest form, the formula to calculate the payback period involves dividing the cost of the initial investment by the annual cash flow. One of the disadvantages of discounted payback period analysis is that it ignores the cash flows after the payback period. Thus, it cannot tell a corporate manager or investor how the investment will perform afterward and how much value it will add in total. The discounted payback period indicates the profitability of a project while reflecting the timing of cash flows and the time value of money.

- For example, if a payback period is stated as 2.5 years, it means it will take 2½ years to receive your entire initial investment back.
- Projecting a break-even time in years means little if the after-tax cash flow estimates don’t materialize.
- This calculation is useful for risk reduction analysis, since a project that generates a quick return is less risky than one that generates the same return over a longer period of time.
- However, based solely on the payback period, the firm would select the first project over this alternative.

It does not account for the time value of money, the effects of inflation, or the complexity of investments that may have unequal cash flow over time. When deciding on any project to embark on, a company or investor wants to know when their investment will pay off, meaning when the cash flows generated from the project will cover the cost of the project. Another drawback to the payback period is that it doesn’t take the time value of money into account, unlike the discounted payback period method. This concept states that money would be worth more today than the same amount in the future, due to depreciation and earning potential.

## Alternatives to the payback period calculation

The first column (Cash Flows) tracks the cash flows of each year – for instance, Year 0 reflects the $10mm outlay whereas the others account for the $4mm inflow of cash flows. As a general rule of thumb, the shorter the payback period, the more attractive the investment, and the better off the company would be. Assume Company A invests $1 million in a project that is expected to save the company $250,000 each year. If we divide $1 million by $250,000, we arrive at a payback period of four years for this investment. Others like to use it as an additional point of reference in a capital budgeting decision framework.

Management then looks at a variety of metrics in order to obtain complete information. Comparing various profitability metrics for all projects is important when making a well-informed decision. To figure this out, you track when your profits match your initial costs. In this guide, we’ll be covering what the payback period is, what are the pros and cons of the method, and how you can calculate it, with concrete business examples. Next, the second column (Cumulative Cash Flows) tracks the net gain/(loss) to date by adding the current year’s cash flow amount to the net cash flow balance from the prior year. So it would take two years before opening the new store locations has reached its break-even point and the initial investment has been recovered.

## Advantages and Disadvantages of the Payback Period

At this point, the project’s initial cost has been paid off, with the payback period being reduced to zero. When calculating break-even in business, businesses use several types of payback periods. The net present value of the NPV method is one of the common processes of calculating the payback period, which calculates the future earnings at the present value. The discounted payback period is commonly utilized in capital budgeting procedures to assess the profitability of a project. A discounted payback period’s net present value aspect does not exist in a payback period in which the gross inflow of future cash flow is not discounted. The discounted payback period is a modified version of the payback period that accounts for the time value of money.

The metric is used to evaluate the feasibility and profitability of a given project. To determine how to calculate payback period in practice, you simply divide the initial cash outlay of a project by the amount of net cash inflow that the project generates each year. For the purposes of calculating the payback period formula, you can assume that the net cash inflow is the same each year. The payback period is the amount of time required for cash inflows generated by a project to offset its initial cash outflow. This calculation is useful for risk reduction analysis, since a project that generates a quick return is less risky than one that generates the same return over a longer period of time. There are two ways to calculate the payback period, which are described below.

## Advantages and Limitations of Using Payback Period Analysis

WACC can be used in place of discount rate for either of the calculations. For instance, a $2,000 investment at the start of the first year that returns $1,500 after the first year and $500 at the end of the second year has a two-year payback period. As a rule of thumb, the shorter the payback period, the better for an investment. Any investments with longer payback periods heres a sample case for support for your non are generally not as enticing. Next, assuming the project starts with a large cash outflow, or investment to begin the project, the future discounted cash inflows are netted against the initial investment outflow. The discounted payback period process is applied to each additional period’s cash inflow to find the point at which the inflows equal the outflows.

Remember to use absolute values by applying the “ABS” function where needed to avoid negative numbers creating confusion in your financial modeling. CFI is the global institution behind the financial modeling and valuation analyst FMVA® Designation. CFI is on a mission to enable anyone to be a great financial analyst and have a great career path. In order to help you advance your career, CFI has compiled many resources to assist you along the path.

The payback period with the shortest payback time is generally regarded as the best one. This is an especially good rule to follow when you must choose between one or more projects or investments. The reason for this is because the longer cash is tied up, the less chance there is for you to invest elsewhere, and grow as a business. Considering that the payback period is simple and takes a few seconds to calculate, it can be suitable for projects of small investments.

Payback period is a quick and easy way to assess investment opportunities and risk, but instead of a break-even analysis’s units, payback period is expressed in years. The shorter the payback period, the more attractive the investment would be, because this means it would take less time to break even. Calculating the payback period in Excel helps businesses see how fast they get their investment back. You can lay out all your options and see which one pays back fastest using similar steps—key for smart financial decisions! By calculating each project’s payback period side-by-side in an organized fashion allows investors and analysts alike to assess various opportunities efficiently.

The breakeven point is the level at which the costs of production equal the revenue for a product or service. One of the most important capital budgeting techniques businesses can practice is known as the payback period method or payback analysis. Unlike the regular payback period, the discounted payback period metric considers this depreciation of your money. The value https://simple-accounting.org/ obtained using the discounted payback period calculator will be closer to reality, although undoubtedly more pessimistic. The discounted payback period of 7.27 years is longer than the 5 years as calculated by the regular payback period because the time value of money is factored in. Below is a break down of subject weightings in the FMVA® financial analyst program.

The method is extremely simple to understand, as it only requires one straightforward calculation. Hence, it’s an easy way to compare several projects and then to choose the project that has the shortest payback time. That’s why business owners and managers need to use capital budgeting techniques to determine which projects will deliver the best returns, and yield the most profitable outcome. The discounted payback period determines the payback period using the time value of money. The table is structured the same as the previous example, however, the cash flows are discounted to account for the time value of money. 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.