Capital Budgeting with Net Present Value (NPV)

Capital budgeting with net present value (NPV) is one of the most common approaches taken by a company considering a project. The goal of this approach is to figure out the value of a project given its projected cash flows and the company’s cost of capital. The purpose of this budgeting method is to allow you to see what the return of the project is, knowing how much interest or dividends will be paid by raising the money to fund the project.

NPV Equation

The basic equation is:

NPV = cash flow / (1 + rate)^ time period – discounts each projected cash flow using the company’s cost of capital

When all of the projected cash flows are added together, including a terminal value for the project, you arrive at the NPV of the project.

How to Use Your Calculation

Once an NPV has been calculated, you can make a capital budgeting decision. If the NPV is positive, the project should be pursued. A positive NPV means that the project adds value to the company. NPV is sometimes used to compare projects. The higher the NPV, the more attractive the project. There are some drawbacks to this approach because if the cash flows are uneven, they can be hard to estimate. Also, this approach ignores externalities.

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