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# How To Calculate The Payback Period

September 29, 2023
Bill Kimball

This is the idea that money today is worth more than the same amount in the future because of the present money’s earning potential. The modified payback is calculated as the moment in which the cumulative positive cash flow exceeds the total cash outflow. The NPV and IRR methods compare the profitability of each investment by considering the time value of money for all cash flows related to the investment. Managers who are concerned about cash flow want to know how long it will take to recover the initial investment. Managers may also require a payback period equal to or less than some specified time period. For example, Julie Jackson, the owner of Jackson’s Quality Copies, may require a payback period of no more than five years, regardless of the NPV or IRR. There are two steps involved in calculating the discounted payback period.

• Then the cumulative positive cash flows are determined for each period.
• The first investment has a payback period of two years, and the second investment has a payback period of three years.
• 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.
• The IRR for the first investment is 4 percent, and the IRR for the second investment is 18 percent.
• For example, a small business owner could calculate the payback period of installing solar panels to determine if they’re a cost-effective option.
• The payback period formula is also known as the payback method.

The Internal Rate of Return is the discount rate that makes the net present value of a project zero. In other words, it is the expected compound annual rate of return that will be earned on a project or investment. Let’s say that you were a graphics designer and considering upgrading your computer. However, it is expected to make you an extra \$1,500 a year, as well as save you \$500 a year in maintenance. To use the cash payback technique, we would divide the total cost of the upgrade by the money saved, plus increased profits, to get the number of years it would take to make our money back. That means \$4,000 divided by \$2,000, or two years to feel the profits from the upgrade. The payback period formula does not account for the output of the entire system, only a specific operation.

## Various Capital Budgeting Methods

At this rate, the company will realize a total of \$150,000 cash flow for the first three years of the expansion. In the Jackson’s Quality Copies example featured throughout this chapter, the company is considering whether to purchase a new copy machine for \$50,000. A week has passed since Mike Haley, accountant, discussed this investment with Julie Jackson, president and owner.

Return on investment is a financial ratio used to calculate the benefit an investor will receive in relation to their investment cost. It is most commonly measured as net income divided by the original capital cost of the investment. WACC is a firm’s Weighted Average Cost of Capital and represents its blended cost of capital including equity and debt. The Contribution Margin Ratio is a company’s revenue, minus variable costs, divided by its revenue. The ratio can be used for breakeven analysis and it+It represents the marginal benefit of producing one more unit. On the other hand, payback period calculations can be so quick and easy that they’re overly simplistic.

## Advantages Of The Payback Method

The total cash flows over the five-year period are projected to be \$2,000,000, which is an average of \$400,000 per year. When divided into the \$1,500,000 original investment, this results in a payback period of 3.75 years. However, the briefest perusal of the projected cash flows reveals that the flows are heavily weighted toward the far end of the time period, so the results of this calculation cannot be correct. Thus, the averaging method reveals a payback of 2.5 years, while the subtraction method shows a payback of 4.0 years. Payback also ignores the cash flows beyond the payback period, thereby ignoring the profitability of the project.

One of the disadvantages of discounted payback period analysis is that it ignores the cash flows after the payback period. Thus, it cannot tell a corporate manager or investor how the investment will perform afterward and how much value it will add in total. Businesses often have to consider many different possible expenditures meant to make money. How do they quickly analyze which ones are worth the time of exploring, which are worth investing in, and which should just be disregarded?

The payback period also facilitates side-by-side analysis of two competing projects. If one has a longer payback period than the other, it might not be the better option. When investing capital into a project, it will take a certain amount of time before the profits from the endeavor offset the capital requirements. Of course, if the project will never make enough profit to cover the start up costs, it is not an investment to pursue. In the simplest sense, the project with the shortest payback period is most likely the best of possible investments . 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 payback period is a commonly used method by investors, financial professionals, and corporations to calculate investment returns. It helps someone determine how long it takes to recover their initial investment costs. This metric is useful before making any decisions, especially when an investor needs to make a snap judgment about an investment venture. Payback also ignores the cash flows beyond the payback period.

One project might be paid back faster, but – in the long run – that doesn’t necessarily make it more profitable than the second. Some investments take time to bring in potentially higher cash inflows, but they will be overlooked when using the payback method alone. Alaskan Lumber is considering the purchase of a band saw that costs \$50,000 and which will generate \$10,000 per year of net cash flow. The payback period for this capital investment is 5.0 years. Alaskan is also considering the purchase of a conveyor system for \$36,000, which will reduce sawmill transport costs by \$12,000 per year. The payback period for this capital investment is 3.0 years. The amount as well as the timing of the cash flows influences the calculation under the cash payback and present value methods.

## What Is The Discounted Payback Period?

Thus, its use is more at the tactical level than at the strategic level. Payback ignores cash flows beyond the payback period, thereby ignoring the ” profitability ” of a project. Payback period analysis ignores the time value of money and the value of cash flows in future periods. As you can see, discounting the payback period can have enormous impacts on profitability.

Payback period is popular due to its ease of use despite the recognized limitations described below. This review problem is a continuation of Note 8.22 “Review Problem 8.3” and Note 8.26 “Review Problem 8.4” and uses the same information. The management of Chip Manufacturing, Inc., would like to purchase a specialized production machine for \$700,000.

## What Is The Payback Method?

The modified payback period is calculated as the moment in which the cumulative positive cash flow exceeds the total cash outflow. The method does not take into account the time value of money, where cash generated in later periods is worth less than cash earned in the current period. A variation on the payback period formula, known as the discounted payback formula, eliminates this concern by incorporating the time value of money into the calculation. Other capital budgeting analysis methods that include the time value of money are the net present value method and the internal rate of return. The payback period is the amount of time required for cash inflows generated by a project to offset its initial cash outflow. This calculation is useful for risk reduction analysis, since a project that generates a quick return is less risky than one that generates the same return over a longer period of time. There are two ways to calculate the payback period, which are described below.

## What Is The Cash Payback Period?

Evaluates how long it will take to recover the initial investment. Gain the confidence you need to move up the ladder in a high powered corporate finance career path.

However, the payback method does not take into account the time value of money. To do so, you simply need to discount the payback based upon a cost of capital or interest rate. Getting repaid or recovering the initial cost of a project or investment should be achieved as quickly as it allows. However, not all projects and investments have the same time horizon, so the shortest possible payback period needs to be nested within the larger context of that time horizon. For example, the payback period on a home improvement project can be decades while the payback period on a construction project may be five years or less. Although calculating the payback period is useful in financial and capital budgeting, this metric has applications in other industries.

## Calculating The Payback Period With Excel

The term is also widely used in other types of investment areas, often with respect to energy efficiency technologies, maintenance, upgrades, or other changes. For example, a compact fluorescent light bulb may be described as having a payback period of a certain number of years or operating hours, assuming certain costs. Here, the return to the investment consists of reduced operating costs.

Learn financial modeling and valuation in Excel the easy way, with step-by-step training. In this article, we will explain four types of revenue forecasting methods that financial analysts use to predict future revenues.

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. Define and explain cash payback method of capital investment evaluation. Alternative measures of “return” preferred by economists are net present value and internal rate of return.