Net Present Value (NPV): Definition & Formula

  • Home
  • stock
  • Net Present Value (NPV): Definition & Formula

The worth of a company, an investment, a capital project, or any other kind of financial activity that involves cash flow may be determined with the use of a formula called net present value. Learn more about net present value (NPV), including its benefits and drawbacks, how investors use it, and how to calculate it, by reading the following.

What Is Net Present Value?

The net present value (NPV) is a statistic that companies and investors use to evaluate the worth that future cash flows will have on their operations at the present time. To put it another way, net present value (NPV) is a technique for estimating the return on investment (ROI) that will be generated by a project or investment. The net present value (NPV) calculation takes into account the revenues, expenses, and capital costs involved with the anticipated free cash flow of the project (FCF).


An investor or a company might use a technique called discounted cash flow analysis to get an estimate of the present value of future cash flows (DCF). It is standard practice for analysts and investors to determine the worth of a firm by calculating its “present value of future cash flow,” which is the outcome of a discounted cash flow (DCF) study.

Positive vs. Negative NPV

If the net present value (NPV) of a project or investment is positive, this indicates that it is anticipated that the project will result in a profit. A project or venture that has a negative net present value is not likely to generate profits that are greater than its cost of capital and is thus not a good financial choice.

How NPV Is Calculated

When determining NPV, the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows over a certain amount of time is subtracted from 100. Although the method for calculating NPV may be a fairly simple one, the quantity of cash flow that is required for the computation will determine how complex or simple the formula will be.


A helpful hint is that investors will not manually compute NPV too often. An NPV function is available on a lot of different financial calculators. When utilizing a financial calculator, you need to keep in mind that the initial investment is a value that is negative. When all of the inputs, such as the cash flows and the discount rate, are known, the NPV calculation may be simplified by using Excel’s NPV function. This tool can help simplify the computation. Simply enter “NPV” into the Help tool of Excel, and you will get a quick walkthrough of the program.

NPV Formula

To simplify the calculation for net present value (NPV), just subtract the current value of the cash that has been invested from the current value of cash flow that is predicted in the future.


The following is the NPV calculation for a single cash flow:

NPV = Net Cash Flow / (1 + Discount Rate of Return) x Time Period – Initial Investment

  • Net cash flow: monetary total amassed during the course of a certain time period
  • A discount rate of return: rate of interest on a project or investment that is necessary or anticipated over a period of time
  • Time period: number of intervals over which the cash flows are calculated (in this case, 1)
  • Initial investment: amount first invested at the beginning

The following is the net present value formula for a stream of cash flows:

  • Rt = cash in hand after expenditures
  • i = discount rate, often known as the rate of return that is sought
  • t = number of intervals during which the calculation will be performed
  • C =first financial commitment in cash


How to Calculate Net Present Value

Despite the fact that manually calculating net present value is not very prevalent, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the components of the formula as well as the mathematics behind it.

Step 1: Identify the Initial Investment (C)

There is no need to discount the first investment since it is the first cash flow and there has been no passage of time since the investment was made. When calculated using a financial calculator, this figure will show up as negative.

Step 2: Identify the Number of Periods (t)

An investor may use a simplified version of the NPV calculation that takes years into account for the cash flow periods, whereas a company would use months instead. For instance, if the amount of time that would have passed is going to be five years, a company can decide on a number of months, which would be sixty (5 x 12).

Step 3: Identify the Discount Rate (i)

The anticipated return, which is often annualized, is what the discount rate refers to. In the event that the time periods are broken down into monthly increments, the discount rate will need to be converted into a monthly rate.

Step 4: Calculate the PV of Each Cash Flow

To get the present value of the predicted returns for each period, divide the forecast cash flow for each year (FV) by the discount rate plus one.

Present value of cash flow = FV / (1 + discount rate)

Step 5: Calculate the NPV of All Cash Flows

In Step 4, after you have determined the amount for each of the cash flow periods, put all of those figures together. This will be the value that represents all returns that are predicted. To calculate the NPV, take this figure and deduct the original investment from it.

How Investors Use & Analyze NPV

The net present value is a metric that may be used by investors in order to determine whether or not an investment is worthwhile. The S&P 500 index may be used as a discount rate, for instance, if an investor sought to get a return that was higher than the typical return from the stock market. If the investment has a positive net present value, then it is possible that it is worthwhile to pursue.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Using NPV

Before making judgments on investments based on net present value (NPV), one should familiarise oneself with both the benefits and drawbacks of employing this measure, as is the case with a wide variety of other metrics of valuation.


  • Can be superior to net income: When compared to net income, cash flow is often considered to be superior. This is due to the fact that net income is susceptible to manipulation and does not necessarily show that a business is successful.
  • Accounts for the time value of money: When determining how profitable an investment or project will be in the future, it is essential to include an estimate of future cash flows in the calculation.


  • Potential for errors: The NPV calculation is based on estimations, such as the discount rate and predicted returns, both of which have a chance of being off.
  • Limited comparisons: Because bigger projects always seem to have a greater NPV in financial terms than smaller ones, the net present value (NPV) metric is not an effective tool for comparing projects of various sizes.


Net Present Value Example

To illustrate the concept of net present value with a simple example, let’s assume that an investor starts by purchasing 100 shares of a company for a total investment of $10,000 and that the investor anticipates earning an annual return of 10%, or $1,000, on the whole amount invested. The duration of the investor’s commitment to the investment is five years.


To get the NPV of cash flow, also known as the return on investment, divide the profits from the first year, which were $1,000, by 1 plus the discount rate, which was 0.10, which resulted in the following formula:

Rt/(1 + i)t = $1000 / (1+1.10)1 = $909


This means that the present value of $1,000 earned by the investor in year one is $909 in today’s dollars.


For the whole span of the last five years, the computations would look like this:

Year 1 PV = $1000 / (1 + 0.10)1 = $909

Year 2 PV = $1000 / (1 + 0.10)2 = $826

Year 3 PV = $1000 / (1 + 0.10)3 = $751

Year 4 PV = $1000 / (1 + 0.10)4 = $685

Year 5 PV = $1000 / (1 + 0.10)5 = $621

Now find the sum of the PVs, like this:

$909 + $826 + $751 + $685 + $621 = $3,792

To find the NPV, subtract the initial investment from the sum, like this:

$3,792 – $10,000 = -$6,208

The NPV is $6,208. This means that the value of $10,000 earning a 10% annual return for five years is worth $6,208 in today’s dollars.


NPV & Discount Rate

In discounted cash flow analysis (also known as DCF analysis), the interest rate that is used to compute the present value of future cash flows is referred to as the discount rate. For instance, this may refer to the rate of return that investors anticipate receiving, or it could refer to the cost that a firm incurs in order to borrow money, which is the interest rate that it pays on its debt.


Because the discount rate has the effect of lowering the value of future cash flows, a greater discount rate will result in a lower value for those cash flows in the future. As a result, when discount rates are reduced, current values will be increased. To put it another way, a larger discount rate indicates that the present value of money is worth less in comparison to its value in the future. Inflation is a straightforward illustration of this idea since it lowers the purchasing power of a dollar over time.

NPV & Payback Period

The payback period, also known as the payback technique, is a method for calculating the amount of time needed to repay the money that was spent on a project or investment or to reach the point when both the investment and the project are profitable. Net present value (NPV), on the other hand, takes into account the temporal worth of money, in contrast to the payback technique.


When evaluating potential investments or deciding between several capital projects, some companies combine the payback technique with the net present value (NPV) approach. For instance, when evaluating various projects, the company may first use the payback approach to narrow down the options, and then use the net present value method to evaluate the top two or three projects.

Bottom Line

The phrase “net present value,” sometimes known as “NPV,” refers to a technique for calculating the profitability of a company, project, or investment. As a result, net present value is a number that can be used by both companies and investors. The fact that NPV takes into consideration the changing value of money over time is one of its primary selling points. However, the most significant drawback of NPV is that it is dependent on estimations, which can lead to incorrect conclusions.

Leave A Comment

No products in the cart.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive latest news, updates, promotions, and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.
No, thanks