Discounted payback period Wikipedia

Most capital budgeting formulas, such as net present value (NPV), internal rate of return (IRR), and discounted cash flow, consider the TVM. So if you pay an investor tomorrow, it must include an opportunity cost. 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. 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 basic method of the discounted payback period is taking the future estimated cash flows of a project and discounting them to the present value. This article breaks down the discounted cash flow DCF formula into simple terms.

  1. If short-term cash flows are a concern, a short payback period may be more attractive than a longer-term investment that has a higher NPV.
  2. The table is structured the same as the previous example, however, the cash flows are discounted to account for the time value of money.
  3. All of the necessary inputs for our payback period calculation are shown below.

In the next step, we’ll create a table with the period numbers (”Year”) listed on the y-axis, whereas the x-axis consists of three columns. Suppose a company is considering whether to approve or reject a proposed project. We’ll now move to a modeling exercise, which you can access by filling out the form below. The net method records the purchase as if the discount was automatically taken. The gross method, on the other hand, records the sale assuming the discount wasn’t taken.

FAQs About Discounted Payback Period

The difference between both indicators is
that the discounted payback period takes the time value of money into account. This means that an earlier cash flow has a higher value than a later cash flow
of the same amount (assuming a positive discount rate). The calculation
therefore requires the discounting of the cash flows using an interest or
discount rate. 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. The discounted payback period is often used to better account for some of the shortcomings, such as using the present value of future cash flows. For this reason, the simple payback period may be favorable, while the discounted payback period might indicate an unfavorable investment.

The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. Thus, the project is deemed illiquid and the probability of there being comparatively more profitable projects with quicker recoveries of the initial outflow is far greater. Each company will internally have its own set of standards for the timing criteria related to accepting (or declining) a project, but the industry that the company operates within also plays a critical role. You can think of it as the amount of money you would need today to have the same purchasing power as a future payment. Have you been investing and are wondering about some of the different strategies you can use to maximize your return?

Discounted Payback Period Calculator

We will take you through the calculation step by step so you can easily calculate it on your own. The DCF formula is required in financial modeling to determine the value of a business when building a DCF model in Excel. It is a rate that is applied to future payments in order to compute the present value or subsequent value of said future payments. 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.

If the calculated value is lower than the cost, then it may not be a good opportunity, or more research and analysis may be needed before moving forward with it. The purpose of DCF analysis is to estimate the money an investor would receive from an investment, adjusted for the time value of money. If you move forward another year, you add 0.671 for the remainder of Year 1, 1.000 for all of Year 2, and 0.500 for the cash flows that arrive midway through Year 3. If you do this, the first discount period will be the stub period fraction divided by 2.

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. If opening the new stores amounts to an initial investment of $400,000 and the expected cash flows from the stores would be $200,000 each year, then the period would be 2 years. In addition, the potential returns and estimated payback time of alternative projects the company could pursue instead can also be an influential determinant in the decision (i.e. opportunity costs).


As a result, payback period is best used in conjunction with other metrics. Although calculating the payback period is useful in financial and capital budgeting, this metric has applications in other industries. It can be used by homeowners and businesses to calculate the return on energy-efficient technologies such as solar panels and insulation, including maintenance and upgrades. Unlike the regular payback period, the discounted payback period metric considers this depreciation of your money. The value obtained using the discounted payback period calculator will be closer to reality, although undoubtedly more pessimistic. The initial investment is $11 million, and the project will last for five years, with the following estimated cash flows per year.

The appropriate timeframe for an investment will vary depending on the type of project or investment and the expectations of those undertaking it. Investors may use payback in conjunction with return on investment (ROI) to determine whether or not to invest or enter a trade. Corporations and business managers also use the payback period to evaluate the relative favorability of potential projects in conjunction with tools like IRR or NPV. As the equation above shows, the payback period calculation is a simple one. 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. After forecasting the expected cash flows, selecting a discount rate, discounting those cash flows, and totaling them, NPV then deducts the upfront cost of the investment from the DCF.

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. For business valuation definition of appendix in a book or written work purposes, the discount rate is typically a firm’s Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC). Investors use WACC because it represents the required rate of return that investors expect from investing in the company.

Vendors like this arrangement because they receive cash faster and increase their cash flow. Customers, on the other hand, like it because they receive a sales discount for their purchase. Management then looks at a variety of metrics in order to obtain complete information.

Payback Period Calculation Example

Assuming that the Year 2 cash flow is evenly distributed, it should arrive on June 30 of Year 2 –  midway through that year. In other words, you’d be incorrectly assuming that the Year 2 cash flow arrives on March 1 of Year 2. If you divided the Year 2 “Normal Discount Period” by 2, you’d be assuming that the Year 2 cash flow arrives midway between April 30 of Year 1 and December 31 of Year 2. By doing this, you’re assuming that the cash flow arrives midway between today – April 30 – and the end of the year – December 31. If you use the Multiples Method to calculate the Terminal Value in a DCF (e.g., assign a Terminal EBITDA Multiple to the company’s EBITDA in its final projected year), nothing changes. I will briefly explain how the payback period functions to help you better understand the concept.

Payback period refers to how many years it will take to pay back 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. When the negative cumulative discounted cash flows become positive, or recover, DPB occurs. Two, select a discount rate, typically based on the cost of financing the investment or the opportunity cost presented by alternative investments. Three, discount the forecasted cash flows back to the present day, using a financial calculator, a spreadsheet, or a manual calculation.

It is an analysis that can be applied to a variety of investments and capital projects where future cash flows can be reasonably estimated. Projects with higher cash flows toward the end of their life will experience more significant discounting. As a result, the payback period may yield a positive result, whereas the discounted payback period yields a negative outcome. It is calculated by taking a project’s future estimated cash flows and discounting them to the present value. In particular, the added step of discounting a project’s cash flows is critical for projects with prolonged payback periods (i.e., 10+ years). 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.

A discounted payback period determines how long it will take for an investment’s discounted cash flows to equal its initial cost. The rule states that investment can only be considered if its discounted payback covers its initial cost before the cutoff time frame. Use this calculator to determine the DPP of
a series of cash flows of up to 6 periods.

Without the mid-year convention, the first discount period in a DCF will be 0.671 rather than 1.000, the next period will be 1.671 rather than 2.000, and the next one will be 2.671 rather than 3.000. You could adjust these calculations to make them comparable, but it’s rarely the time and effort since the discrepancy is small (~2-3%). Therefore, if the DCF projection period is 10 years, the Terminal Value is as of Year 9.5 rather than Year 10.0 under the mid-year convention and the Perpetuity Growth method. The PV of each Unlevered Free Cash Flow increases because it’s generated earlier.


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