The numbers used in this example are stemming from the case study introduced in our project business case article where you will also find the results of the simple payback period method. In this analysis, 3 project alternatives are compared with each other, using the discounted payback period as one of the success measures. We see that in year 3, the investment is not just recovered but the remaining cash inflow is surplus. The project is acceptable according to simple payback period method because the recovery period under this method (2.5 years) is less than the maximum desired payback period of the management (3 years). A project may have a longer discounted payback period but also a higher NPV than another if it creates much more cash inflows after its discounted payback period. The shorter the discounted payback period, the quicker the project generates cash inflows and breaks even.

Discounted cash flow (DCF) refers to a valuation method that estimates the value of an investment using its expected future cash flows. So, the discounted payback period would take 1.98 years to cover the initial cost of $8,000. The discounted payback period (DPP) is a success measure of investments and projects. Although it is not explicitly mentioned in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) it has practical relevance in many projects as an enhanced version of the payback period (PBP). Due to its ease of use, payback period is a common method used to express return on investments, though it is important to note it does not account for the time value of money.

- The calculation

therefore requires the discounting of the cash flows using an interest or

discount rate. - You can think of it as the amount of money you would need today to have the same purchasing power as a future payment.
- Use this calculator to determine the DPP of

a series of cash flows of up to 6 periods. - This payback period calculator is a tool that lets you estimate the number of years required to break even from an initial investment.
- Yarilet Perez is an experienced multimedia journalist and fact-checker with a Master of Science in Journalism.
- 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.

As a rule of thumb, the shorter the payback period, the better for an investment. Any investments with longer payback periods are generally not as enticing. It is a useful way to work out how long it takes to get your capital back from the cash flows. It shows the number of years you will need to get that money back based on present returns. Our calculator uses the time value of money so you can see how well an investment is performing.

For DCF analysis to be of value, estimates used in the calculation must be as solid as possible. Badly estimated future cash flows that are too high can result in an investment that might not pay off enough in the future. Likewise, if future cash flows are too low due to rough estimates, they can make an investment appear too costly, which could result in missed opportunities.

## Payback Periods Vs. discounted Payback Periods

The major limitation of discounted cash flow analysis is that it involves estimates, not actual figures. That means that for DCF to be useful, individual investors and companies must estimate a discount rate and cash flows correctly. The discounted payback period indicates the profitability of a project while reflecting the timing of cash flows and the time value of money. If the discounted payback period of a project is longer than its useful life, the company should reject the project.

This means that you would need to earn a return of at least 9.1% on your investment to break even. This means that you would need to earn a return of at least 19.6% on your investment to break even. Thus, you should compare your year-end cash flow after making an investment. Average cash flows represent the money going into and out of the investment. Inflows are any items that go into the investment, such as deposits, dividends, or earnings. Cash outflows include any fees or charges that are subtracted from the balance.

The table is structured the same as the previous example, however, the cash flows are discounted to account for the time value of money. When valuing a business, the annual forecasted cash flows typically used are 5 years into the future, at which point a terminal value is used. The reason is that it becomes hard to make reliable the top 5 high yield bond funds for 2020 estimates of how a business will perform that far out into the future. When assessing a potential investment, it’s important to take into account the time value of money or the required rate of return that you expect to receive. A higher payback period means it will take longer for a company to cover its initial investment.

## FAQs About Discounted Payback Period

The Payback Period Calculator can calculate payback periods, discounted payback periods, average returns, and schedules of investments. Payback period refers to the number of years it will take to pay back the initial investment. The calculator below helps you calculate the discounted payback period based on the amount you initially invest, the discount rate, and the number of years. Payback period is the amount of time it takes to break even on an investment.

This approach might look a bit similar to net present value method but is, in fact, just a poor compromise between NPV and simple payback technique. According to discounted payback method, the initial investment would be recovered in 3.15 years which is slightly more than the management’s maximum desired payback period of 3 years. With XNPV, it’s possible to discount cash flows that are received over irregular time periods. This is particularly useful in financial modeling when a company may be acquired partway through a year.

All else being equal, it’s usually better for a company to have a lower payback period as this typically represents a less risky investment. The quicker a company can recoup its initial investment, the less exposure the company has to a potential loss on the endeavor. The answer is found by dividing $200,000 by $100,000, which is two years. The second project will take less time to pay back, and the company’s earnings potential is greater. Based solely on the payback period method, the second project is a better investment if the company wants to prioritize recapturing its capital investment as quickly as possible. DCF shouldn’t necessarily be relied on exclusively even if solid estimates can be made.

## Irregular Cash Flow Each Year

Next, we divide the number by the year-end cash flow in order to get the percentage of the time period left over after the project has been paid back. One observation to make from the example above is that the discounted payback period of the project is reached exactly at the end of a year. In other circumstances, we may see projects where the payback occurs during, rather than at the end of, a given year. Since the project’s life is calculated at 5 years, we can infer that the project returns a positive NPV. The DCF formula takes into account how much return you expect to earn, and the resulting value is how much you would be willing to pay for something to receive exactly that rate of return. 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. The situation gets a bit more complicated if you’d like to consider the time value of money formula (see time value of money calculator). After all, your $100,000 will not be worth the same after ten years; in fact, it will be worth a lot less. Every year, your money will depreciate by a certain percentage, called the discount rate. Furthermore, future cash flows rely on a variety of factors, such as market demand, the status of the economy, technology, competition, and unforeseen threats or opportunities.

If the discounted cash flow is higher than the current cost of the investment, the investment opportunity could be worthwhile. The discounted payback period is calculated

by discounting the net cash flows of each and every period and cumulating the

discounted cash flows until the amount of the initial investment is met. This requires the use of a discount

rate which can be either a market interest rate or an expected return. Some

organizations may https://simple-accounting.org/ also choose to apply an accounting interest rate or their

weighted average cost of capital. Discounted payback method is a capital budgeting technique used to evaluate the profitability of a project based upon the inflows and outflows of cash. Under this technique, we first discount project’s all cash flows to their present value using a preset discount rate and then determine the time period within which the initial investment would be recovered.

For example, let’s say you have an initial investment of $100 and an annual cash flow of $20. If you’re discounting at a rate of 10%, your payback period would be 5 years. Adding up all of the discounted cash flows results in a value of $13,306,727. By subtracting the initial investment of $11 million from that value, we get a net present value (NPV) of $2,306,727. In this example, the cumulative discounted

cash flow does not turn positive at all. In other words, the investment will not be recovered

within the time horizon of this projection.

This can help users account for different projections that might be possible. They would matter if something unusual happened in the first portion of the first projected year that is not expected to recur in the second portion, such as a significant acquisition or divestiture. For example, if a retailer earns most of its sales in Q4 of the year due to the holiday shopping season, the bulk of its Free Cash Flow probably is generated at the end of the year.