how to calculate payback period

Many managers and investors thus prefer to use NPV as a tool for making investment decisions. The NPV is the difference between the present value of cash coming in and the current value of cash going out over a period of time. Cumulative net cash flow is the sum of inflows to date, minus the initial outflow. My Accounting Course  is a world-class educational resource developed by experts to simplify accounting, finance, & investment analysis topics, so students and professionals can learn and propel their careers. By adopting cloud accounting software like Deskera, you can track your costs, send purchase orders, overview your bills, generate expense reports, and much more – through a single, user-friendly platform.

When Would a Company Use the Payback Period for Capital Budgeting?

In most cases, a longer payback period also means a less lucrative investment as well. A shorter period means they can get their cash back sooner and invest it into something else. A longer period leaves cash tied up in investments without the ability to reinvest funds elsewhere. Return on Investment (ROI) is the annual return you receive on investment, and it measures the efficiency of the investment, compared to its cost. A payback period, on the other hand, is the time it takes to recover the cost of an investment.


  1. However, there’s a limit to the amount of capital and money available for companies to invest in new projects.
  2. In DCF analysis, the weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is the discount rate used to compute the present value of future cash flows.
  3. Longer payback periods are not only more risky than shorter ones, they are also more uncertain.
  4. Specialties include general financial planning, career development, lending, retirement, tax preparation, and credit.

Positive cash flow that occurs during a period, such as revenue or accounts receivable means an increase in liquid assets. On the other hand, negative cash flow such as the payment for expenses, rent, and taxes indicate a decrease in liquid assets. Oftentimes, cash flow is conveyed as a net of the sum total of both positive and negative cash flows during a period, as is done for the calculator.

Payback Period Explained, With the Formula and How to Calculate It

Firstly, it fails to consider the time value of money, as cash flow obtained in the initial years of a project is valued more highly than cash flow received later in the project’s process. For instance, two projects may have the same payback period, but one generates more cash flow in the early years and the other generates more profitability in the later years. In this case, the payback method does not provide a strong indication as to which project to choose. Are you still undecided about investing in new machinery for your manufacturing business? Perhaps you’re torn between two investments and want to know which one can be recouped faster?

how to calculate payback period

Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team. Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent. Financial modeling best practices require calculations to be transparent and easily auditable. The trouble with piling all of the calculations into a formula is that you can’t easily see what numbers go where or what numbers are user inputs or hard-coded.

First, we’ll calculate the metric under the non-discounted approach using the two assumptions below. For instance, let’s say you own a retail company and are considering a proposed growth strategy that involves opening up new store locations in the hopes of benefiting from the expanded geographic reach. The sooner the break-even point is met, the more likely additional profits are to follow (or at the very least, the risk of losing capital on the project is significantly reduced).

That’s why business owners and managers need to use capital budgeting techniques to determine which projects will deliver the best returns, and yield the most profitable outcome. In this article, we will explain the difference between the regular payback period and the discounted payback how do the paid interest expenses present in the statement of cash flow period. You will also learn the payback period formula and analyze a step-by-step example of calculations. Conceptually, the payback period is the amount of time between the date of the initial investment (i.e., project cost) and the date when the break-even point has been reached.

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. Management will set an acceptable payback period for individual investments based on whether the management is risk averse or risk taking. This target may be different for different projects because higher risk corresponds with higher return thus longer payback period being acceptable for profitable projects. For lower return projects, management will only accept the project if the risk is low which means payback period must be short. Projects having larger cash inflows in the earlier periods are generally ranked higher when appraised with payback period, compared to similar projects having larger cash inflows in the later periods.

how to calculate payback period

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 https://www.kelleysbookkeeping.com/ can have the same payback period with varying break-even points due to the varying flows of cash each project generates. Cash flow is the inflow and outflow of cash or cash-equivalents of a project, an individual, an organization, or other entities.

It’s obvious that he should choose the 40-week investment because after he earns his money back from the buffer, he can reinvest it in the sand blaster. So, if an investment of $200 has an annual return of $100, the ROI will be 50%, whereas the payback period will be 2 years ($200/$100). Cathy currently owns a small manufacturing business that produces 5,000 cashmere scarfs each year.

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. The payback period is favored when a company is under liquidity constraints because it can show how long it should take to recover https://www.kelleysbookkeeping.com/when-do-you-need-joint-tenancy/ the money laid out for the project. 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. Although calculating the payback period is useful in financial and capital budgeting, this metric has applications in other industries.

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