This result means that project 1 is profitable because it has a positive NPV. If you use our NPV calculator to determine the NPV for each of these projects, you will discover that the NPV of project 1 is equal to $481.55, while the NPV of project 2 is equal to –$29.13. If another project has a similar IRR with less up-front capital or simpler extraneous considerations, then a simpler investment may be chosen despite IRRs. As mentioned, most companies do not rely on IRR and NPV analyses alone. These calculations are usually also studied in conjunction with a company’s WACC and an RRR, which provides for further consideration.

  • Now that we have a good visual of what the project looks like financially, let’s set up our equation.
  • The time value of money is represented in the NPV formula by the discount rate, which might be a hurdle rate for a project based on a company’s cost of capital.
  • Meanwhile, today’s dollar can be invested in a safe asset like government bonds; investments riskier than Treasurys must offer a higher rate of return.
  • Understanding NPV and IRR can help you make sound financial decisions about an investment opportunity or project.

An NPV of greater than $0 indicates that a project has the potential to generate net profits. Usually, NPV is just one metric used along with others by a company to decide whether to invest. It is a comprehensive way to calculate whether a proposed project will be financially viable or not. Doing your calculations in a spreadsheet is great as you can easily change the interest rate until the NPV is zero. When analyzing a typical project, it is important to distinguish between the figures returned by NPV vs IRR, as conflicting results arise when comparing two different projects using the two indicators.

Net Present Value – NPV Calculator

Make sure you enter the free cash flow and not a cash flow after interest, which will result in double-counting the time value of money. NPV and IRR are both used extensively by financial managers and investors to value the future cash flow or returns of an investment. NPV is an actual amount, using a rate of return (the discount rate) that is assigned based on the investor’s criteria.

The ultimate goal of IRR is to identify the rate of discount, which makes the present value of the sum of annual nominal cash inflows equal to the initial net cash outlay for the investment. Several methods can be used when seeking to identify an expected return, but IRR is often ideal for analyzing the potential return of a new project that a company is considering undertaking. If the cost of capital is 11% per year then the present value of that $50,000 income stream is in fact negative (-$4,504.50 to be exact) meaning that the return does not justify the investment. IRR is used to establish the actual rate of return of the cash flow based on the initial investment. It can be used to compare the investment relative to the returns and risk of other investments. IRR is commonly used by private equity/hedge funds to evaluate potential opportunities.

Using the NPV calculator

Finally, IRR is a calculation used for an investment’s money-weighted rate of return (MWRR). The MWRR helps determine the rate of return needed to start with the initial investment amount factoring in all of the changes to cash flows during the investment period, including sales proceeds. After the discount rate is chosen, one can proceed to estimate the present values of all future cash flows by using the NPV formula.


NPV accounts for the time value of money and can be used to compare the rates of return of different projects or to compare a projected rate of return with the hurdle rate required to approve an investment. The time value of money is represented in the NPV formula by the discount rate, which might be a hurdle rate for a project based on a company’s cost of capital. No matter how the discount rate is determined, a negative NPV shows that the expected rate of return will fall short of it, meaning that the project will not create value. We can also think of the IRR as the expected compound rate of return of a project.

IRR Calculator

Actually, NPV is considered the best criterion when ranking investments. NPV’s predefined cutoff rates are quite reliable compared to IRR when it comes to ranking more than two project proposals. IRR is typically used to assess the minimum discount rate at which a company will accept the project.

Internal rate of return is a discount rate that is used in project analysis or capital budgeting that makes the net present value (NPV) of future cash flows exactly zero. If you aren’t quite familiar with NPV, you may find it best to read through that article first, as the formula is exactly the same. The difference here is that, instead of summing future cash flows, this time we set the net present value equal to zero, and then we solve for the discount rate. The internal rate of return (IRR) is a financial metric used to assess the attractiveness of a particular investment opportunity. When you calculate the IRR for an investment, you are effectively estimating the rate of return of that investment after accounting for all of its projected cash flows together with the time value of money. When selecting among several alternative investments, the investor would then select the investment with the highest IRR, provided it is above the investor’s minimum threshold.

Internal rate of return looks at the present value of cash flow from a different perspective. The payback period, or payback method, is a simpler alternative to NPV. The payback method calculates how long it will take to recoup an investment.