Net Present Value (NPV) vs. Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

What Are NPV and IRR? Net present value (NPV) is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows over a period of time. By contrast, the internal rate of return (IRR) is a calculation used to estimate the profitability of potential investments.

What is IRR?

IRR, or internal rate of return, is a technique for assessing capital expenditures. To calculate the rate of return on investment, use the IRR formula. Businesses choose a completion date and use IRR to determine the project’s percentage return or loss by that time. IRR is not expressed as a monetary value but as a percentage. IRR is a sophisticated metric that is frequently applied within the business world rather than as an objective indicator.

What is NPV?

NPV, or net present value, is a method for assessing capital expenditures. To ascertain whether and when a project or investment will be profitable, one uses NPV. The NPV calculation is used with a specific time frame so the business can determine the precise point at which they can anticipate a return on investment. NPV is not expressed as a percentage but rather as a monetary value. Most people believe that NPV is simpler to understand for those outside the financial planning industry.

NPV versus IRR

Both NPV and IRR offer crucial data for capital planning and investing, but the metrics they generate should be used differently. Here are some examples of how NPV and IRR differ from one another:

How to calculate NPV

Calculate NPV using the following formula and steps:

Initial investment equals the anticipated net cash inflow for each time period, and NPV is calculated as r1 + (1 + i)n.

I equals the required rate of return for each period, or the discount rate.

n = number of time periods

Decide how much money you’re going to invest or put into your project first. This number will replace initial investment in the equation.

For illustration, Dannys Garage plans to purchase several new lifts for their repair shop. Danny makes the decision to use the NPV formula to determine the NPV of the new lifts with a \$200,000 initial investment.

2. Identify your expected cash flow

Determine the amount of money you anticipate making from this project or investment. This number will replace r in the equation.

Example: Danny estimates that with this investment, he will receive an additional \$40,000 in cash on average each month for a year.

3. Decide on a time period

Determine when you want to see a return on your investment, whether it will be in a few months or a few years. This number will replace n in the equation.

For instance, Danny wants to see a return on his investment after a year.

Your discount rate is the rate of return necessary for your project or investment to be profitable. This number will replace i in the equation.

For instance, Danny needs a 12% return rate for his project to be profitable.

5. Fill in the formula

Using the numbers you identified above, fill in the formula. On the other side of the equals sign, the only letters that should be present are NPV.

Danny, for instance, enters the following numbers in the NPV equation:

NPV = \$40,000 × (1 – (1 + 1%) ⁻¹²) – \$200,000.

6. Calculate the NPV

Solve the equation to find the NPV. Long-form calculations can be made by hand or using a scientific calculator.

Example: Danny solves the equation to find the NPV.

NPV = \$40,000 × (1 – (1 + 1%) ⁻¹²) – \$200,000.

NPV = \$40,000 × (1 − 1. 01⁻¹²) ÷ 0. 01 − \$200,000.

NPV = \$40,000 × (1 − 0. 887449) ÷ 0. 01 − \$200,000.

NPV = \$40,000 × 0.112551 ÷ 0.01 − \$200,000

NPV = \$40,000 × 11.2551 − \$200,000

NPV = \$450,204 – \$200,000

NPV = \$250,204

How to calculate IRR

Calculate IRR using the following formula and steps:

0 = NPV =TCt- C01 + IRRtt=1Ct = Net cash inflow over the course of time (t)

t = Time period

C₀ = Initial investment

IRR = Internal rate of return

Decide how much money you’re going to invest or put into your project first. This number will replace C₀ in the equation.

2. Identify your expected cash flow

Determine the amount of money you anticipate making from this project or investment. This number will replace Cₜ in the equation.

3. Decide on a time period

Determine when you want to see a return on your investment, whether it will be in a few months or a few years. This number will replace t in the equation. The denotes that there are various iterations of time to take into consideration. Record all of them in your equation.

4. Set NPV to 0

For the equation to balance, set NPV to 0. You will be working towards determining the IRR.

5. Fill in the formula

Using the numbers you identified above, fill in the formula. IRR should be the only letter present in the equation’s center.

6. Use software to solve the equation

Calculating IRR is more difficult than calculating NPV due to the nature of the formula. Only trial and error or a program designed specifically for IRR can solve it. It cannot be calculated analytically. Therefore, it is advised that you seek assistance from your CFO or internal accountant when performing the IRR calculation.

FAQ

What is better NPV or IRR?

When comparing various projects against one another or in circumstances where determining a discount rate is challenging, IRR is helpful. When there are multiple discount rates or different directions of cash flow over time, NPV is preferable.

Why is NPV better than IRR Payback?

While the NPV method takes time value into account, it provides a clear indication of the project’s dollar benefit to the company’s shareholders on a present value basis. NPV is the best single measure of profitability. Benefits accruing after the payback period are disregarded in the Payback vs. NPV analysis. It also does not measure total incomes.

Is IRR equal to NPV?

The interest rate at which the NPV of costs (negative cash flows) incurred over the course of the project (or a specified accounting period) equals the NPV of benefits (positive cash flows) from the project is known as the internal rate of return (IRR).

Does higher IRR mean higher NPV?

With NPV, proposals that have a net positive value are typically accepted. IRR, however, is frequently approved if the resulting IRR is higher than the current cutoff rate. Positive net present value projects also exhibit higher internal rates of return than the base value.