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After the discounting method has been specified, there is still the question of what discount rate to use. The average investment opportunity rate is the interest rate that represents, on average, the return of the future investment opportunities available to the company.

Absolute Decision Criteria

This is the rate at which the treasury will grow. An alternative interest rate is the weighted average cost of capital WACC. This is an interest rate that, as the name indicates, is the average of the cost of each source of financing weighted by the fraction of the total financing that source represents.

Sources of financing include debt, which has an explicit interest rate associated with it, and equity, which has an implicit cost associated with attracting and retaining investors. The average investment opportunity rate and the weighted average cost of capital are often very similar to each other and often much lower than the typical "hurdle rates" used in the industry.


  1. Capital Project Examples.
  2. Independent vs. Mutually Exclusive Projects?
  3. Lost Medicine.

The use of high discount rates to account for risk is not recommended. Much has been written about the fallacy of using high discount rates see, for example, Capen [3]. Other pages deal with decisions under uncertainty. The decision criterion using net present value is very simple. For project screening, all projects with a positive NPV at the company average investment opportunity rate are acceptable. If the projects with a positive NPV perform as projected, they will return more to the treasury than the average company project will return.

In the case of mutually exclusive alternatives, where choosing one alternative precludes choosing another, the alternative with the highest NPV should be chosen. An example of mutually exclusive alternatives might be choosing between injecting CO 2 or high- pressure air as a secondary recovery method—only one or the other may be chosen, not both. Internal rate of return IRR has been a popular managerial indicator since the s, and it is still widely used today.

Disadvantages of Net Present Value

In Table 1 that interest rate is 2. Notice that, once again, we are using the effective monthly interest rate and, therefore, must use Eq. IRR can easily be used to screen projects. If the IRR is greater than the average investment opportunity rate, the project passes the screen. However, the unwary might be trapped in a situation where two mutually exclusive projects are being compared. Many evaluators have a tendency to think that the project with the larger IRR is the better project. This is not necessarily so.

If IRR is used to compare two mutually exclusive projects, it is necessary to calculate the IRR on the incremental capital used for the project with the larger investment. Although this can lead to the correct decision, the procedure is tedious enough that it is easier to just compare NPVs at the average investment opportunity rate. Project B. Although Project A has higher IRR , in case of mutually exclusive projects, a decision based on net present value is theoretically sounder.

If these were independent projects, PQR would invest in all of these projects because they all have positive NPVs and their respective IRRs are higher than the hurdle rate i. You are welcome to learn a range of topics from accounting, economics, finance and more. We hope you like the work that has been done, and if you have any suggestions, your feedback is highly valuable.

Definition and Rationale

Let's connect! Business Toggle Dropdown Science. It is more refined from both a mathematical and time-value-of-money point of view than either the payback period or discounted payback period methods. Net present value is one of many capital budgeting methods used to evaluate potential physical asset projects in which a company might want to invest.

Key economic parameters for decision making

Usually, these capital investment projects are large in terms of scope and money, such as purchasing an expensive set of assembly-line equipment or constructing a new building. Net present value uses discounted cash flows in the analysis, which makes the net present value more precise than of any of the capital budgeting methods as it considers both the risk and time variables. A net present value analysis involves several variables and assumptions and evaluates the cash flows forecasted to be delivered by a project by discounting them back to the present using information that includes the time span of the project t and the firm's weighted average cost of capital i.

If the result is positive, then the firm should invest in the project.

Capital Budgeting Decision Making

If negative, the firm should not invest in the project. Before you can use net present value to evaluate a capital investment project, you'll need to know if that project is a mutually exclusive or independent project. Independent projects are those not affected by the cash flows of other projects. Mutually exclusive projects, however, are different.


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  • If two projects are mutually exclusive, it means there are two ways of accomplishing the same result. It might be that a business has requested bids on a project and a number of bids have been received. You wouldn't want to accept two bids for the same project. That is an example of a mutually exclusive project. When you are evaluating two capital investment projects , you have to evaluate whether they are independent or mutually exclusive and make an accept-or-reject decision with that in mind.

    Every capital budgeting method has a set of decision rules.