Payback Period Learn How to Use & Calculate the Payback Period

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August 24, 2022

payback period formula

As an alternative to looking at how quickly an investment is paid back, and given the drawback outline above, it may be better for firms to look at the internal rate of return (IRR) when comparing projects. The payback period equation also doesn’t take into account the effects an investment might have on the rest of the company’s operations. For instance, new equipment might require Bookkeeping for attorneys a significant amount of expensive power, or might not be able to run as often as it would need to in order to reach the payback goal. Since the second option has a shorter payback period, this may be a better choice for the company. •   Downsides of using the payback period include that it does take into account the time value of money or other ways an investment might bring value.

  • Inflows are any items that go into the investment, such as deposits, dividends, or earnings.
  • The term is also widely used in other types of investment areas, often with respect to energy efficiency technologies, maintenance, upgrades, or other changes.
  • Initially the project involves a cash outflow, arising from the original investment of £500,000 and some project losses in Year 1 of £50,000.
  • Determining the payback period is useful for anyone and can be done by dividing the initial investment by the average cash flows.

This will help give them some parameters to work with when making investment decisions. If the calculated payback period is less than the desired period, this may be a safer investment. •   Equity firms may calculate the payback period for potential investment in startups and other companies to ensure capital recoupment and understand risk-reward ratios. Machine X would cost $25,000 and would have a useful life of 10 years with zero salvage value.

Payback Period and Capital Budgeting

Under payback method, an investment project is accepted or rejected on the basis of payback period. Payback period means the period of time that a project requires to recover the money invested in it. 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. Many managers and investors thus prefer to use NPV as a tool for making investment decisions.

Depreciation is a non-cash expense and therefore has been ignored while calculating the payback period of the project. On this basis, it is difficult to say whether the hospital should buy the new machine. Most managers would see a payback period of less than 3 years as good.


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  • Whilst the time value of money can be rectified by applying a weighted average cost of capital discount, it is generally agreed that this tool for investment decisions should not be used in isolation.
  • Often managers use payback and discounted cash flow techniques at the same time, even though they are very different methods of capital budgeting (see discounted payback method).
  • In its simplest form, the calculation process consists of dividing the cost of the initial investment by the annual cash flows.
  • Companies also use the payback period to select between different investment opportunities or to help them understand the risk-reward ratio of a given investment.

Payback period is the amount of time it takes to break even on an investment. The appropriate timeframe for an investment will vary depending on the type of project or investment and the expectations of those undertaking it. Investors may use payback in conjunction with return on investment (ROI) to determine whether or not to invest or enter a trade. Corporations and business managers also use the payback period to evaluate the relative favorability of potential projects in conjunction with tools like IRR or NPV.

Free Financial Modeling Lessons

Payback period doesn’t take into consideration the time value of money and therefore may not present the true picture when it comes to evaluating cash flows of a project. This issue is addressed by using DPP, which uses discounted cash flows. Looking at the example investment project in the diagram above, the key columns to examine are the annual “cash flow” and “cumulative cash flow” columns. The decision rule using the payback period is to minimize the time taken for the return on investment. According to payback period analysis, the purchase of machine X is desirable because its payback period is 2.5 years which is shorter than the maximum payback period of the company. The payback period disregards the time value of money and is determined by counting the number of years it takes to recover the funds invested.

payback period formula

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