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Why use a net present value calculator? Why is a NPV calculation useful?

Unlike the IRR or MIRR calculations that express results in percentage terms, the NVP calculation reveals its results in dollar terms. A dollar amount can be very beneficial.

  • If the result is positive, then the investment will generate more than your desired rate-of-return. In such cases, you can consider investing.
  • The net present value also has another use. If you are negotiating an investment, the NPV will tell you how much you can adjust your initial investment amount and still achieve your desired rate of return. More below...»
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Related - Some investors prefer to use the Modified Rate of Return Calculator (MIRR) when evaluating the potential of an investment. It calculates a more conservative IRR since the user can enter a different reinvestment rate.

What is net present value?

In finance jargon, the net present value is the combined present value of both the investment cash flow and the return or withdrawal cash flow. To calculate the net present value, the user must enter a "Discount Rate." The "Discount Rate" is simply your desired rate of return (ROR).

Using the NPV Calculator

In addition to the projected cash flow, the user sets five values.

  • Initial Investment (-): The first amount invested. You enter money invested as a negative number. (You are writing a check.)
  • Discount Rate: The rate-of-return you want to earn on your investment.
  • Initial Investment Date: The start date.
  • First Cash Flow Date: The dates in the cash flow grid start from this date.
  • Cash Flow Frequency: Use cash flow frequency to initial set the dates in the cash flow grid. You may change as many dates as you want when you enter the cash flows.

You must enter at least one negative value and one positive value (investment return); otherwise, the NPV calculator cannot calculate a result.

How is NPV useful?

As I've mentioned, you can use the NPV calculation to determine if you should invest. All other things being equal, the larger the result, the better the investment. You can use the result to evaluate a single investment, or you can use it to compare investments.

But what if you are negotiating an investment?

Wouldn't it be handy to have a tool to that tells you by how much you can raise your bid and still meet your investment objective?

The NPV calculation is that tool.

The NPV is the calculation investors use to learn if they are paying too much for an investment (or if they could pay more) relative to the rate of return they want to earn. If the net present value is negative, the initial investment is too high for the investor to meet their goal ROR. If the NPV is positive, the investor can pay that amount more for the investment, and they'll still earn what they want to make.

Here's an example....

Sharon invests in already issued mortgages. She can buy a mortgage for $210,000 that has 200 remaining monthly payments of $1,682.77 each. The next payment is due on Oct. 1. Sharon wants to earn 6% on her investments.

Is this a good deal for Sharon?

Follow these steps.

  1. Click "Reset" to clear entries in the cash flow table.
  2. Enter -210,000.00 for the "Initial Investment."
  3. Enter Sharon's personal "Discount Rate" i.e. 6% — the ROR she wants to earn on her investments.
  4. Set "Initial Investment Date." In this case, that's the date Sharon plans to purchase the mortgage. Use Sept. 15 if you are following along.
  5. Set "First Cash Flow Date" to Oct. 1.
  6. Set "Cash Flow Frequency" to monthly.
  7. Click on "Add Series." Create 200 monthly entries of $1,682.77 starting on Oct. 1.
  8. Click "Calc":
    • Net Present Value = $5,248.61
    • Internal Rate of Return = 6.376%

Since the IRR equals 6.4%, Sharon will earn more than the 6% she desires.

But what if there is a competing bid for the mortgage?

Can Sharon pay more than $210,000?

Yes! She can pay as much as $5,248.61 more and still earn a rate-of-return of 6.0%.

How does she know this?

What's the proof?

Let's see for ourselves. Change the "Initial Investment" to $-215,248.61 ($210,000.00 plus the NPV result from above) and click "Calc" again. Now we have:

  • NPV = $0.00
  • IRR = 6.0%

Sharon now knows how much more she can invest if needed and still achieve her goal of a 6.0% return.

Note: When the NPV is negative, that is the amount the investor must decrease their initial investment by to make their desired ROR.

Calendar Tip: When using the calendar, click on the month at the top to list the months, then, if needed, click on the year at the top to list years. Click to select a year, select a month and select a day. Naturally, you can scroll through the months and days too. Or you can click on "Today" to quickly select the current date.

If you prefer not using a calendar, single click on a date or use the [Tab] key (or [Shift][Tab]) to select a date. Then, as mentioned, type 8 digits only - no need to type the date part separators. Also, because the date is selected, you do not need to clear the prior date before typing. If your selected date format equals mm/dd/yyyy, then for Dec. 1, 2016, type 12012016.

An NPV calculator is a valuable tool for investors and businesses considering undertaking a project. Let us know how you use this calculator in the comments below. Many of us will be interested in knowing.

NPV Calculator Help

6 thoughts on “net-present-value-calculator

  1. Hello Sir,

    Thank you for all of these resources!

    Hoping this calculator (or another) can solve my problem but I seem to misunderstand the input fields. Here is my question; Initial investment of $1,100,000 into 100% ownership of a profitable business on Jan 1, 2018. Monthly pre-tax income of $16,666 realized over 60 months (5 year horizon assumption). Final value uncertain (future value of business/cash flows is not know) Assume $500,000.

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi, I understand the cash flow as you’ve outlined, but what’s your question?

      • Hi Karl,

        The question is how to value the purchase price of $1.1mm given those cash flow assumptions? Is it even possible if I don’t know the residual value? Or lastly is the NPV of the cash flows nearly irrelevant given the potentially large range of final residual values? Thank you!

        • I see now. You would like to know if the 1.1mm is too much to pay. Thanks for the clarification. This calculator will work.

          What rate of return would you like on the investment? Enter that rate as the discount rate. Then enter the 1.1 as a negative value in "Initial Investment." The 60 cash flows are entered as positive values. The assumed final value is also entered as a positive value on the date you think the investment will be liquidated.

          Click "Calc."

          If the net present value is positive, then the investment will earn more than your desired rate of return. How much more? You can see the IRR calculation on this calculator to see.

          Does that answer the question? If not, please feel free to follow-up.

          • Hi Karl,

            Thank you for the help, sorry to be slow!

            So to summarize;

            Enter initial investment of -$1,100,000 and desired return rate in Discount Rate field. Initial Investment date of Jan 31, 2018. First cash flow date of 2/28/18, cash flow frequency of Monthly. Then enter “Add Series” to account for 60 months of $16,600 payments.

            Where do I enter/account for the final valuation assumption? Add another series?

            Thanks for your great, prompt responses!

          • You’re welcome. No problem.

            Yes, your setup is correct with the use of the add series feature for the $16,666 monthly cash flow.

            For the final valuation, I would not use add series as add series is designed for more than one cash flow/value and I’ve never tested it by adding a single value.

            Scroll to the first empty cell in the grid after the last cash flow and type in the $500,000. You can change the date to whatever you want it to be. And if you set the date so that it is out of date order, the calculator will resort it when you click on calc. The date you use is whatever date you want to use for final evaluation. You could, for example, assume you don’t liquidate the investment until a year after the last cash flow. That’s fine, the calculator will let you set the final value on any date.

Comments, suggestions & questions welcomed...

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