Payback period: Learn How to Use & Calculate It

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Payback period: Learn How to Use & Calculate It

how to find the payback period

If the result returns a positive number over the time period, then the investment is worth pursuing. The payback period is an accounting metric in capital budgeting that refers to the amount of time it takes to recover the funds invested in a project or reach a break-even point. For example, a firm may decide to invest in an asset with an initial cost of $1 million. Over the next five years, the firm receives positive cash flows that diminish over time.

How to Calculate Payback Period

how to find the payback period

The discounted payback period determines the payback period using the time value of money. For example, imagine a company invests £200,000 in new manufacturing equipment which results in a positive cash flow of £50,000 per year. In addition, the IRR assumes that the generated cash flows are reinvested at the generated rate.

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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. Similar to a break-even analysis, the payback period is an important metric, particularly for small business owners who may not have the cash flow available to tie funds up for several years.

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

how to find the payback period

Another drawback to the payback period is that it doesn’t take the time value of money into account, unlike the discounted payback period method. This concept states that money would be worth more today than the same amount in the future, due to depreciation and earning potential. This capital budgeting and investment appraisal technique divides the present value of all estimated future cash flows by the projected initial outflows. The discounted cash flows are then compared to the initial cost – the point when the discounted cash flows equal the investment outflow is when the investment or project breaks even. It is expressed as a percentage and is a function of the initial investment capital and the final value, which includes dividends and interest.

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 single member llc payroll loss on the endeavor. For example, if solar panels cost $5,000 to install and the savings are $100 each month, it would take 4.2 years to reach the payback period. In most cases, this is a pretty good payback period as experts say it can take as much as years for residential homeowners in the United States to break even on their investment.

  1. The situation gets a bit more complicated if you’d like to consider the time value of money formula (see time value of money calculator).
  2. The index is a good indicator of whether a project creates or destroys company value.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Projecting a break-even time in years means little if the after-tax cash flow estimates don’t materialize. The payback period is the time it will take for your business to recoup invested funds. In this case, the payback period would be 4 years because 200,0000 divided by 50,000 is 4. You can get an idea of the best payback period by comparing all the investments you’re considering, and opt for the shortest one. Generally, a long payback period is determined by your own comfort level – as long as you are paying off one investment, you’ll be less able to invest in newer, promising opportunities.

In conditions of uncertainty, the shorter payback means good cushioning and risk mitigation. 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. But since the payback period metric rarely comes out to be a precise, whole number, the more practical formula is as follows. CFI is the global institution behind the financial modeling and valuation analyst FMVA® Designation.

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