discounted payback period definition

In order to find the discounted cash flow amount he must find out the present value factor which considers the diminished value of cash flows in future years. The discounted payback method takes into account the present value of cash flows. Clearly, investment B has a better payback but the simple payback period fails to account for the timing of cash flows within the payback period.

Its recovery depends on cash flow only, it not even consider the time value of money. This method completely ignores accrual basic and the time value of money. It can be seen from the table that the cumulative cash flow becomes positive in year three. If cash flows arise at the end of the year, the payback period will be three years. In this example, the cumulative discounted

cash flow does not turn positive at all. In other words, the investment will not be recovered

within the time horizon of this projection.

How do companies use the payback method?

Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers. Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts. Often, companies overlook this, which results in missing out on profitable opportunities. Secondly, it is crucial to remember that a product or service needs enough time to grow and reach a wide range of audiences. Financial modeling in excel is a good skill that every professional should have.

discounted payback period definition

The discount rate is the amount of return Rick could get by using that money elsewhere. If he could expect to return 10% in the stock market, for example, instead of purchasing the second location he would use a 10% discount rate. A project or investment with a shorter discounted payback period will generate cash flows sooner, so the initial investment will be recovered sooner.

What Is the Discounted Payback Period (DPP)?

That will enable you to regulate finances efficiently for your business or job. The company’s chief financial officer, Johnny Money, asked that you follow him into his office for a meeting. The following business case is designed for students to apply their knowledge of the Discounted Payback Period technique in a real-life context.

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For this reason, the simple payback period may be favorable, while the discounted payback period might indicate an unfavorable investment. According to discounted payback method, the initial investment would be recovered in 3.15 years which is slightly more than the management’s maximum desired payback period of 3 years. The time it takes for the present value of future cash flows to equal the initial cost of a project indicates when the project or investment will break even. The payback period is the amount of time for a project to break even in cash collections using nominal dollars. The shorter the discounted payback period, the quicker the project generates cash inflows and breaks even. While comparing two mutually exclusive projects, the one with the shorter discounted payback period should be accepted.

Payback Period Formula

Thus, the value of a cash flow equals its notional

value, regardless of whether it occurs in the 1st or in the 6th year. However, it

tends to be imprecise in cases of long cash flow projection horizons or cash

flows that increase significantly over time. When deciding on which project to undertake, a company or investor wants to know when their investment will pay off, i.e., when the project’s cash flows cover the project’s costs. Therefore, it would be more practical to consider the time value of money when deciding which projects to approve (or reject) – which is where the discounted payback period variation comes in.

The appeal of this method is that it’s easy to understand and relatively simple to calculate. Let’s use the first example, but expand it by including the fact that the organisation has a cost of capital of 10%. Two other advantages are that payback is easy to calculate and to understand. The DPP can be used in a cost-benefit analysis as well as for the comparison of different project alternatives. Get instant access to lessons taught by experienced private equity pros and bulge bracket investment bankers including financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel Modeling.

Payback and discounted payback

The discounted payback period calculation begins with the -$3,000 cash outlay in the starting period. Knight points out that some people will use “discounted payback,” a modified method that takes into account the discount rate. The difference between both indicators is

that the discounted payback period takes the time value of money into account. This means that an earlier cash flow has a higher value than a later cash flow

of the same amount (assuming a positive discount rate). The calculation

therefore requires the discounting of the cash flows using an interest or

discount rate. The discounted payback period has a similar purpose as the payback period which is to determine how long it takes until an initial investment is amortized through the cash flows generated by this asset.

  • To counter this limitation, discounted payback period was devised, and it accounts for the time value of money by discounting the cash inflows of the project for each period at a suitable discount rate.
  • Because of the opportunity cost of receiving cash earlier and the ability to earn a return on those funds, a dollar today is worth more than a dollar received tomorrow.
  • Calculate the discounted period of the investment if the discount rate is 11%.
  • So, once we calculate the discounted cash flows for each project period, we can subtract those discounted cash flows from the initial cost until we reach zero.
  • The rest of the procedure is similar to the calculation of simple payback period except that we have to use the discounted cash flows as calculated above instead of nominal cash flows.


The time value of money is considered when using discounted payback, but otherwise the points made previously regarding the usefulness of payback hold for discounted payback as well. Note that here an assumption is that the cash flows arise at the end of the year so the answer is a whole number of years. Because of the opportunity cost of receiving cash earlier and the ability to earn a return on those funds, a dollar today is worth more than a dollar received tomorrow. In simple words, depreciation means reducing the value of any goods or asset with time, and it is typically measured in percentage. Depreciation is an essential factor to consider while accounting and forecasting for any business. However, the payback period can also be more comprehensive than its mark when the organization is likely to experience a growth spurt soon.

A higher payback period means it will take longer for a company to cover its initial investment. All else being equal, it’s usually better for a company to have a lower payback period as this typically represents a less risky investment. The quicker a company can recoup its initial investment, the less exposure the company has to a potential loss on the endeavor.

  • In contrast with the averaging method, this method is the most suitable for circumstances when the cash flow is likely to fluctuate shortly.
  • Knowing when one project will pay off versus another makes the decision easier.
  • When the negative cumulative discounted cash flows become positive, or recover, DPB occurs.
  • Simply put, it is the length of time an investment reaches a breakeven point.