# Payback period calculator investopedia forex

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One of the most important concepts every corporate financial analyst must learn is how to value different investments or operational projects to determine the most profitable project or investment to undertake. One way corporate financial analysts do this is with the payback period. Although calculating the payback period is useful in financial and capital budgeting , this metric has applications in other industries.

It can be used by homeowners and businesses to calculate the return on energy-efficient technologies such as solar panels and insulation, including maintenance and upgrades. Average cash flows represent the money going into and out of the investment. Inflows are any items that go into the investment, such as deposits, dividends, or earnings. Cash outflows include any fees or charges that are subtracted from the balance.

Payback Period and Capital Budgeting There is one problem with the payback period calculation. Unlike other methods of capital budgeting, the payback period ignores the time value of money TVM. This is the idea that money is worth more today than the same amount in the future because of the earning potential of the present money.

So if you pay an investor tomorrow, it must include an opportunity cost. The TVM is a concept that assigns a value to this opportunity cost. The payback period disregards the time value of money and is determined by counting the number of years it takes to recover the funds invested. For example, if it takes five years to recover the cost of an investment, the payback period is five years. This period does not account for what happens after payback occurs.

Therefore, it ignores an investment's overall profitability. Many managers and investors thus prefer to use NPV as a tool for making investment decisions. The NPV is the difference between the present value of cash coming in and the current value of cash going out over a period of time. Some analysts favor the payback method for its simplicity. Others like to use it as an additional point of reference in a capital budgeting decision framework.

Example of Payback Period Here's a hypothetical example to show how the payback period works. Clearly, the second project can make the company twice as much money, but how long will it take to pay the investment back? The second project will take less time to pay back, and the company's earnings potential is greater. Based solely on the payback period method, the second project is a better investment.

Another discounted cash flow methodology that businesses and commercial real estate companies use to select a project for investment is the internal rate of return IRR. Public companies have a higher per-share valuation price than private companies. Privately-held companies are discounted to a lower fair value due to a lack of share marketability and higher risk profiles. Equity Value Assessment by Investors Investors use discounted cash flow as one method of analyzing potential stock investments and their estimated market value.

HBO released a documentary in titled Icahn: The Restless Billionaire that mentions the use of discounted cash flow. Carl Icahn, an activist investor and chairman of Icahn Enterprises LP IEP , uses a DCF model and other analyses as valuation methods to identify underperforming companies with low equity value that could be improved.

Icahn or a team member takes a Board of Directors position after buying a substantial stock position in an undervalued publicly-traded company or acquiring the company. Investors can also determine the intrinsic value of a stock or a company valuation based on the present value of future dividends with a perpetual growth rate by using the Gordon Growth Model GGM.

The Gordon Growth Model is a dividend discount model to determine stock price or enterprise valuation with a simpler formula. GGM has been proven using a discounted cash flow calculation.

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Example of Payback Period Here's a hypothetical example to show how the payback period works. Clearly, the second project can make the company twice as much money, but how long will it take to pay the investment back? The second project will take less time to pay back, and the company's earnings potential is greater.

Based solely on the payback period method, the second project is a better investment. What Is a Good Payback Period? The best payback period is the shortest one possible. Getting repaid or recovering the initial cost of a project or investment should be achieved as quickly as it allows. However, not all projects and investments have the same time horizon, so the shortest possible payback period needs to be nested within the larger context of that time horizon.

For example, the payback period on a home improvement project can be decades while the payback period on a construction project may be five years or less. While the two terms are related, they are not the same. The breakeven point is the price or value that an investment or project must rise to cover the initial costs or outlay. The payback period refers to how long it takes to reach that breakeven. As the equation above shows, the payback period calculation is a simple one. It does not account for the time value of money, the effects of inflation, or the complexity of investments that may have unequal cash flow over time.

The discounted payback period is often used to better account for some of the shortcomings, such as using the present value of future cash flows. For this reason, the simple payback period may be favorable, while the discounted payback period might indicate an unfavorable investment.

The payback period is favored when a company is under liquidity constraints because it can show how long it should take to recover the money laid out for the project. If short-term cash flows are a concern, a short payback period may be more attractive than a longer-term investment that has a higher NPV.

The Bottom Line The payback period tells you how long it will take to break even on an investment -- to get paid back on the initial outlay of money. Shorter payback periods are often desirable, but the appropriate timeframe will vary depending on the type of project or investment and the expectations of those undertaking it. Investors may use payback in conjunction with return on investmen t ROI to determine whether or not to invest or enter a trade. Corporations and business managers also use the payback period to evaluate the relative favorability of potential projects in conjunction with tools like IRR or NPV.

Article Sources Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. For example, an investor may determine the net present value NPV of investing in something by discounting the cash flows they expect to receive in the future using an appropriate discount rate. It's similar to determining how much money the investor currently needs to invest at this same rate in order to get the same cash flows at the same time in the future.

Discount rate is useful because it can take future expected payments from different periods and discount everything to a single point in time for comparison purposes. Payback Period Payback period, which is used most often in capital budgeting, is the period of time required to reach the break-even point the point at which positive cash flows and negative cash flows equal each other, resulting in zero of an investment based on cash flow.

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. Due to its ease of use, payback period is a common method used to express return on investments, though it is important to note it does not account for the time value of money. As a result, payback period is best used in conjunction with other metrics. The discounted payback period DPP , which is the period of time required to reach the break-even point based on a net present value NPV of the cash flow, accounts for this limitation.

Unlike payback period, DPP reflects the amount of time necessary to break-even in a project based not only on what cash flows occur, but when they occur and the prevailing rate of return in the market, or the period in which the cumulative net present value of a project equals zero all while accounting for the time value of money. Discounted payback period is useful in that it helps determine the profitability of investments in a very specific way: if the discounted payback period is less than its useful life estimated lifespan or any predetermined time, the investment is viable.

Conversely, if it's greater, the investment generally should not be considered. Comparing the DPP of different investments, ones with the relatively shorter DPPs are generally more enticing because they take less time to break-even.

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