What is the difference between net present value and internal rate of return?

Modified on Wed, 18 Jul 2018 at 11:56 AM

Net present value (NPV) is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows over a period of time. By contrast, internal rate of return (IRR) is a calculation used to estimate the profitability of potential investments.

Both of these measurements are primarily used in capital budgeting, the process by which companies determine whether a new investment or expansion opportunity is worthwhile. Given an investment opportunity, a firm needs to decide whether undertaking the investment will generate net economic profits or losses for the company.

Determining Net Present Value

To do this, the firm estimates the future cash flows of the project and discounts them into present value amounts using a discount rate that represents the project's cost of capital and its risk. Next, all of the investment's future positive cash flows are reduced into one present value number. Subtracting this number from the initial cash outlay required for the investment provides the net present value of the investment.

Determining Internal Rate of Return

So, JKL Media's project has a positive NPV, but from a business perspective, the firm should also know what rate of return will be generated by this investment. To do this, the firm would simply recalculate the NPV equation, this time setting the NPV factor to zero, and solve for the now unknown discount rate. The rate that is produced by the solution is the project's internal rate of return (IRR).

Source : Investopedia

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