Payback Period Business

payback period formula

If the cumulative cash flow drops to a negative value some time after it has reached a positive value, thereby changing the payback period, this formula can’t be applied. This formula ignores values that arise after the payback period has been reached. SoFi Invest®

The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile.

  • Payback period does not specify any required comparison to other investments or even to not making an investment.
  • You can easily buy and sell with just a few clicks on your phone, and view your portfolio on one simple dashboard.
  • This can result in investors overlooking the long-term benefits of the investment since they’re too focused on short-term ROI.
  • Unlike other methods of capital budgeting, the payback period ignores the time value of money (TVM).
  • •   Equity firms may calculate the payback period for potential investment in startups and other companies to ensure capital recoupment and understand risk-reward ratios.

One way corporate financial analysts do this is with the payback period. Most major capital expenditures have a long life span and continue to provide cash flows even after the payback period. Since the payback period focuses on short term profitability, a valuable project may be overlooked if the payback period is the only consideration. Payback period intuitively measures how long something takes to „pay for itself.“ All else being equal, shorter payback periods are preferable to longer payback periods.

How to Calculate the Payback Period

According to payback method, machine Y is more desirable than machine X because it has a shorter payback period than machine X. 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.

Using the averaging method, the initial amount of the investment is divided by annualized cash flows an investment is projected to generate. This works well if cash flows are predictable or expected to be consistent over time, but otherwise this method may not be very accurate. Calculating payback periods is especially important for startup companies with limited capital that want to be sure they can recoup their money without going out What is Legal Accounting Software For Lawyers of business. Companies also use the payback period to select between different investment opportunities or to help them understand the risk-reward ratio of a given investment. Unlike net present value , profitability index and internal rate of return method, payback method does not take into account the time value of money. A modified variant of this method is the discounted payback method which considers the time value of money.


According to payback method, the project that promises a quick recovery of initial investment is considered desirable. If the payback period of a project is shorter than or equal to the management’s maximum desired payback period, the project is accepted, otherwise rejected. For example, if a company wants to recoup the cost of a machine within 5 years of purchase, the maximum desired payback period of the company would be 5 years. The purchase of machine would be desirable if it promises a payback period of 5 years or less.

  • Payback focuses on cash flows and looks at the cumulative cash flow of the investment up to the point at which the original investment has been recouped from the investment cash flows.
  • Since the payback period focuses on short term profitability, a valuable project may be overlooked if the payback period is the only consideration.
  • Using the subtraction method, one starts by subtracting individual annual cash flows from the initial investment amount, and then does the division.
  • Although calculating the payback period is useful in financial and capital budgeting, this metric has applications in other industries.
  • For example, a firm may decide to invest in an asset with an initial cost of $1 million.

•   The payback period is the estimated amount of time it will take to recoup an investment or to break even. Additional complexity arises when the cash flow changes sign several times; i.e., it contains outflows in the midst or at the end of the project lifetime. • the cash flows after the investment is recovered are not considered. And this amount is divided by the “Cash Flow in Recovery Year”, which is the amount of cash produced by the company in the year that the initial investment cost has been recovered and is now turning a profit.

What Is a Good Payback Period?

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 Specialized Tax Services STS accounting method: PwC or charges that are subtracted from the balance. 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.

Payback focuses on cash flows and looks at the cumulative cash flow of the investment up to the point at which the original investment has been recouped from the investment cash flows. If opening the new stores amounts to an initial investment of $400,000 and the expected cash flows from the stores would be $200,000 each year, then the period would be 2 years. With active investing, you can hand select each individual stock or ETF you wish to add to your portfolio. Using automated investing, you can choose from groups of pre-selected stocks. There are additional tools in the app to set personal financial goals and add all your banking and investment accounts so you can see all of your information in one place. Prior to calculating the payback period of a particular investment, one might consider what their maximum payback period would be to move forward with the investment.

How to Interpret Payback Period in Capital Budgeting

Here, the return to the investment consists of reduced operating costs. The table is structured the same as the previous example, however, the cash flows are discounted to account for the time value of money. Below is a break down of subject weightings in the FMVA® financial analyst program. As you can see there is a heavy focus on financial modeling, finance, Excel, business valuation, budgeting/forecasting, PowerPoint presentations, accounting and business strategy.

payback period formula