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However, investment X will only return the initial investment whereas investment Y will eventually pay double the initial investment. Given the additional information not provided by the payback period formula, one may consider investment Y to be preferable. The formula for the net present value method may be used to close this information gap in order to properly evaluate the best choice.

An electric car manufacturer wishes to build a new plant to serve a new market. The feasibility study provides several options for plant locations, production volumes, and resulting revenue streams. The payback periods of each option are identified within the feasibility study.

Also, cash outflows may change significantly over time, varying with customer demand and the amount of competition. Note that the payback calculation uses cash flows, not net income. Also, the payback calculation does not address a project’s total profitability over its entire life, nor are the cash flows discounted for the time value of money. An investment project with a short payback period promises the quick inflow of cash. It is therefore, a useful capital budgeting method for cash poor firms. Under payback method, an investment project is accepted or rejected on the basis of payback period. Payback period means the period of time that a project requires to recover the money invested in it.

Another issue with the formula for period payback is that it does not factor in the time value of money. The time value of money concept, as it applies to the payback period formula, proposes that each future cash flow is worth less when compared to today’s value. The discounted payback period formula may be used instead to consider the time value of money, however the discounted payback period formula takes away the benefit of making quick calculations. The payback period is the time it will take for a business to recoup an investment. Consider a company that is deciding on whether to buy a new machine. Management will need to know how long it will take to get their money back from the cash flow generated by that asset. The calculation is simple, and payback periods are expressed in years.

Managerial accountants really have no idea what their investment is going to do in the future. They can estimate and predict what the future cash inflows will be, but there is no guarantee. For instance, they might purchase a piece of equipment under the assumption that a production contract will continue for the next 3 years, but the contract actually isn’t renewed in year two. he payback period instructions in the previous section are easy to understand because they describe in simple verbal terms the amounts to add or divide. However, when the analyst tries to build these instructions into a spreadsheet formula, the implementation becomes somewhat cumbersome. In any case, the spreadsheet programmer needs at least a simple understanding of the quantities to identify and use for calculating the payback period. Note that business people also refer to a similar but different concept, the break-even point in business volume, or units sold.

Another great way to use this tool is when considering student loans. As a student is deciding on a degree, they can research the average income from a career with that degree. Using that number, along with the projected cost of their student loans, they can project how long it will take before they have recovered their investment. You can use the tool just to estimate how long a debt or investment will take to be paid off. However, if you are evaluating a future investment, it is a good idea to have a maximum Payback Period already set. How long are you willing to wait before the money is returned to you?

The project is expected to generate $25 million per year in net cash flows for 7 years. Payback period is a basic understanding of return and time period required for break even. The payback period formula is very basic and easy to understand for most of the business organization. Another method which is frequently used is known as IRR or internal rate of return which emphasizes on the rate of return from a particular project each year.

## Typical Payback Periods

This means that it will actually take Jimmy longer than 6 years to get back his original investment. The payback method focuses solely upon the time required to pay back the initial investment; it does not track the ultimate profitability of a project at all. Last, but not least, payback period does not handle a project with uneven cash flows well. If a project has uneven cash flows, then payback period is a fairly useless capital budgeting method unless you take the next step of applying a discount factor for each cash flow. When calculating the payback period on a potential asset or other investment, it’s helpful to know the time value of money. This is important if your payback period is more than five years, as money paid back in the future will be worth less than it was at the time of the initial investment.

In order to account for the time value of money, the discounted normal balance must be used to discount the cash inflows of the project at the proper interest rate. But there are a few important disadvantages that disqualify the payback period from being a primary factor in making investment decisions. First, it ignores the time value of money, which is a critical component of capital budgeting. For example, three projects can have the same payback period; however, they could have varying flows of cash. Without considering the time value of money, it is difficult or impossible to determine which project is worth considering. Also, the payback period does not assess the riskiness of the project. Projecting a break-even time in years means little if the after-tax cash flow estimates don’t materialize.

To make the best decision about whether to pursue a project or not, a company’s management needs to decide which metrics to prioritize. The payback period of an investment is best applied as a screening calculation between options. It gives the investor a first pass at deciding whether a particular investment is worth examining in greater detail or can provide a relative ranking of alternatives in terms of payback options. Jim estimates that the new buffing wheel will save 10 labor hours a week.

## Cost Estimation And Economic Evaluation

You expect that the project will generate $2,000 annually for 10 years. Benefits generated by this investment in the long term have a greater risk than benefits achieved in a shorter period.

Implementing the PB metric in a spreadsheet requires that the analyst have access to individual annual figures for both net cash flow and cumulative cash flow . The programmer builds logical tests ( “IF” expressions in Microsoft Excel) to find the first year of positive cumulative cash flow. Payback Period is one of the simplest capital budgeting techniques. It calculates the number of years a project takes in recovering the initial investment based on the future expected cash inflows. The payback period allows you to measure the attractiveness of an investment based on how quickly the initial investment breaks even. The other two main capital budgeting methods, net present value and internal rate of return, do not provide any consideration for this factor. The PBP is the time that elapses from the start of the project A, to the breakeven point E, where the rising part of the curve passes the zero cash position line.

There can be more than one payback period for a given cash flow stream. PB examples such as the one above typically show cumulative cash flow increasing continuously. In real-world cash flow results, however, “cumulative” cash flow can decrease or increase from period to period.

## Payback Method With Uneven Cash Flow:

You can calculate the payback period by accumulating the net cash flow from the the initial negative cash outflow, until the cumulative cash flow is a positive number. When the cumulative cash flow becomes positive, this is your payback year.

These capital projects start with a capital budget, which defines the project’s initial investment and its anticipated annual cash flows. The budget includes a calculation to show the estimated payback period, with the assumption that the project produces the expected cash flows each year. According to payback method, the project that promises a quick recovery of initial investment is considered desirable.

- He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy.
- Payback Period formula just calculates the number of years which will take to recover the invested funds from the particular business.
- In Jim’s example, he has the option of purchasing equipment that will be paid back 40 weeks or 100 weeks.
- The faster the company can receive its cash, the more acceptable the investment becomes.
- The discounted after-tax cash flow method values an investment, starting with the amount of money generated.

Even with the more advanced methods available, management may choose to rely on this tried and true method for the sake of efficiency. The definition of the payback period for capital budgeting purposes is straightforward. The payback period represents the number of years it takes to pay back the initial investment of a capital project from the cash flows that the project produces. In capital budgeting, the payback period is the selection criteria, or deciding factor, that most businesses rely on to choose among potential capital projects. Small businesses and large alike tend to focus on projects with a likelihood of faster, more profitable payback. Analysts consider project cash flows, initial investment, and other factors to calculate a capital project’s payback period. The other project would have a payback period of 4.25 years but would generate higher returns on investment than the first project.

As a stand-alone tool to compare an investment to “doing nothing,” payback period has no explicit criteria for decision-making . Net Present Value is the value of all future cash flows over the entire life of an investment discounted to the present.

When all other factors are similar, the Certified Public Accountant can be used as a decision making tool, since a fast payback period will rapidly flow into the business’ cash flow and balance sheet . Evaluating payback periods helps companies recognize different investment opportunities and determine which product or project is most likely to recoup their cash in the shortest time. A fast return may not be a priority for every business in every case, but it’s a crucial consideration all the same. In such situations, we will first take the difference between the year-end cash flow and the initial cost left to reduce.

However, even though the amount of $100,000 may look profitable today, it won’t be of the same value a decade later. The main advantage of the payback period for evaluating projects is its simplicity. We can apply the values to our variables and calculate projected payback period for the new series. Installation and transport cost would amount to P300, 000 and have not been included in the cost price.

You can calculate your discounted payback period by dividing the overall expense of a product or project by its average annual cash flows. The payback method should not be used as the sole criterion for approval of a capital investment. Alternative measures of “return” preferred by economists are net present value and internal rate of return. An implicit assumption in the use of payback period is that returns to the investment continue after the payback period. Payback period does not specify any required comparison to other investments or even to not making an investment. Payback period, which is used most often in capital budgeting, is the period of time required to reach the break-even point of an investment based on cash flow. For instance, a $2000 investment at the start of the first year that returns $1500 after the first year and $500 at the end of the second year has a two-year payback period.

Suppose a project with initial cash investment of $1,000,000 with a cash flow pattern from 1 to 5 years – 120,000.00, 150,000.00, 300,000.00, 500,000.00 and 500,000.00. The wind is measured via anemometers that are installed at different heights and the data is collected for 2 years. The data is analyzed, the type and size of turbines are chosen, and the predicted revenue stream is determined.

## Understanding The Payback Period And How To Calculate It

A shorter payback period means the investment will be ‘repaid’ fairly shortly, in other words, the cost of that investment will quickly be recovered by the cash flow that investment will generate. In the aforesaid examples, the various projects generated even cash inflows.

Author: Christopher T Kosty