Payback Period Explained, With the Formula and How to Calculate It

how to calculate the payback period

However, there are additional considerations that should be taken into account when performing the capital budgeting process. People and corporations mainly invest their money to get paid back, which is why the payback period is so important. In essence, the shorter payback the sunk cost fallacy an investment has, the more attractive it becomes. Determining the payback period is useful for anyone and can be done by dividing the initial investment by the average cash flows. The payback period is the time required to recover the initial cost of an investment.

Example 1: Even Cash Flows

  1. The term payback period refers to the amount of time it takes to recover the cost of an investment.
  2. Next, the second column (Cumulative Cash Flows) tracks the net gain/(loss) to date by adding the current year’s cash flow amount to the net cash flow balance from the prior year.
  3. CFI is on a mission to enable anyone to be a great financial analyst and have a great career path.
  4. The appropriate timeframe for an investment will vary depending on the type of project or investment and the expectations of those undertaking it.
  5. The basic payback period, as presented above, and its benefits and limitations give an overall idea of the concept.

Capital budgeting involves selecting projects using techniques like payback period, which calculates the time required to recover initial investment. This method does not consider time value of money and is often used in combination with other techniques. Not accounting for cash flows post the investment’s return and minimal time value evaluation are major drawbacks. Despite its simplicity, payback method helps in quick project analysis based on liquidity principle. A project’s, an individual’s, an organization’s, or other entities’ cash flow is the inflow and outflow of cash or cash-equivalents. Positive cash flow, such as revenue or accounts receivable, indicates growth in liquid assets over time.

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

Unlike the IRR, the MIRR uses the reinvestment rate for positive cash flows and the financing rate for the initial outflows. It also assumes that the cash flow generated during the investment period is reinvested at the same rate, which is almost never the case. Hence, the best use case of IRR is when the investment being analyzed does not generate a lot of intermediate cash flows. The modified payback model is presented as the year when the cumulative positive cash flows are greater than the total cash flows. The discounted payback period of 7.27 years is longer than the 5 years as calculated by the regular payback period because the time value of money is factored in. Conceptually, the payback period is the amount of time between the date of the initial investment (i.e., project cost) and the date when the break-even point has been reached.

Comparison of two or more alternatives – choosing from several alternative projects:

The point after breaking even is when the total of discounted cash inflows will exceed the initial cost. It measures the time it takes to regain the invested capital and reach the break-even point. If a venture has a 10-year period of payback, the measure does not consider the cash flows after the 10-year time frame. The payback period is a fundamental capital budgeting tool in corporate finance, and perhaps the simplest method for evaluating the feasibility of undertaking a potential investment or project.

The payback period is a valuable and simple analysis tool that can facilitate the comparison of alternative investments. The following hypothetical example will provide better clarification regarding comparing investments. In essence, the payback period is used very similarly to a Breakeven Analysis, but instead of the number of units to cover fixed costs, it considers the amount of time required to return an investment. The decision rule using the payback period is to minimize the time taken for the return on investment.

Understanding the nuances, advantages, and limitations of each metric is essential to make informed capital budgeting decisions. It should be used with, but not limited to, the mentioned cash flow metrics, NPV and RoR, to build a more exhaustive picture of the viability of a project, its downside risks, and trade-offs. Conversely, if proceeds after the period have a dramatic uptick and move into the green, then the investment is a wise decision. It doesn’t represent these two scenarios – profitability or lack thereof. If cash flows after the break-even point decrease significantly, the project’s viability is in jeopardy and can lead to losses. The TVM provides more sophisticated and detailed investment information than the simple time frame of the return on investment which is disregarded by this tool.

For instance, a $2,000 investment at the start of the first year that returns $1,500 after the first year and $500 at the end of the second year has a two-year payback period. As a rule of thumb, the shorter the payback period, the better for an investment. Any investments with longer payback periods are generally not as enticing.

It also has the function of helping with managing investment risk—the shorter the time it takes to recover the initial investment, the less risky the investment. It is used by small or medium companies that make relatively small investments with constant annual cash flows. Despite its simplicity, the payback period is a practical and handy accounting metric that offers a number of advantages worth considering. In this article, we will explain the difference between the regular payback period and the discounted payback period.

Each company will internally have its own set of standards for the timing criteria related to accepting (or declining) a project, but the industry that the company operates within also plays a critical role. Save taxes with Clear by investing in tax saving mutual funds (ELSS) online. Our experts suggest the best funds and you can get high returns by investing directly or through SIP. The index is a good indicator of whether a project creates or destroys company value. Next, the second column (Cumulative Cash Flows) tracks the net gain/(loss) to date by adding the current year’s cash flow amount to the net cash flow balance from the prior year. For instance, let’s say you own a retail company and are considering a proposed growth strategy that involves opening up new store locations in the hopes of benefiting from the expanded geographic reach.

how to calculate the payback period

In the first case, the period over which the capital is paid back for project A is 10 years, while for project B it is 5 years. Unlike the break-even point, which uses the number of units sold to offset the costs, the payback is the length of time required for an investment to pay back for itself. Cumulative net cash flow is the sum of inflows to date, minus the initial outflow. But since the payback period metric rarely comes out to be a precise, whole number, the more practical formula is as follows. So it would take two years before opening the new store locations has reached its break-even point and the initial investment has been recovered. Depreciation is a non-cash expense and therefore has been ignored while calculating the payback period of the project.

As you can see in the example below, a DCF model is used to graph the payback period (middle graph below). First, we’ll calculate the metric under the non-discounted approach using the two assumptions below. Thus, the project is deemed illiquid and the probability of there being comparatively more profitable projects with quicker recoveries of the initial outflow is far greater.

The other project would have a payback period of 4.25 years but would generate higher returns on investment than the first project. However, based solely on the payback period, the firm would select the first project over this alternative. The implications of this are that firms may choose investments with shorter payback periods at the expense of profitability.

how to calculate the payback period

With this in mind, it becomes clear that the tool is insufficient for estimating the value of an investment and its returns. Payback period is a vital metric for evaluating the time taken for an investment to break even. Mr. Arora is an experienced private equity investment professional, with experience working across multiple markets. Rohan has a focus in particular on consumer and business services transactions and operational growth. Rohan has also worked at Evercore, where he also spent time in private equity advisory. Free loan, mortgage, cash value, math, algebra, trigonometry, fractions, physics, statistical information, time & date, and conversion calculators are provided here.