Payback period And Discounted Payback Period

Meaning of Payback Period

In finance, the term payback period refers to the amount of time it takes to recoup the cost of a financial investment. Quite simply, the payback period is the amount of time it takes for an investment to achieve breakeven status. People and corporations invest their money primarily in order to receive a return on their investment, which is why the payback period is critical. In general, the shorter the payback period of an investment, the more appealing it becomes. Individual investors and corporations alike can benefit from calculating the payback period, which can be accomplished by dividing the initial investment by the average net cash flows.

Investing returns are commonly calculated using the payback period. This method is widely used by investors, financial professionals, and corporations to calculate investment returns. It assists someone in determining how long it will take for them to recoup their initial investment expenses. The use of this metric prior to making any decisions is beneficial, especially in situations where an investor needs to make a snap judgement about a potential investment venture.

Payback Period Formula

The payback period formula is one of the most popular formulas used by investors to determine how long it would typically take to recoup their investments. It is calculated as the ratio of the total initial investment made to the net cash inflows, and it is calculated as the ratio of the total initial investment made to the net cash inflows.

Payback Period Formula = Initial Investment/ Net Annual Cash Flow

Pros and Cons Of Payback Period


  • Calculation is straightforward.

  • It is simple to comprehend because it provides a quick estimate of the amount of time that will be required for the company to recoup the money that has been invested in the project.

  • It is possible to estimate the project risk based on the length of the project payback period. The longer the time span, the more risky the project is considered to be. Due to the fact that long-term predictions are less reliable, this is the case.

  • Because of the high risk of obsolescence in industries such as software and mobile phone manufacturing, short payback periods are frequently used to determine whether or not to make an investment in a particular technology or product.


  • It does not take into consideration the time value of money.

  • However, it does not take into account the total profitability of the investment (that is to say, it only takes into account cash flows up to and including the payback period, but not cash flows after that period).

  • The company may prioritize projects with a short payback period, thereby overlooking the need to invest in long-term projects (i.e., a company cannot determine project feasibility solely on the basis of the number of years in which it will return your investment; there are a number of other factors that it does not consider). It does not factor in the social or environmental benefits when making the calculation. It does not factor in the cost of capital.

What is Discounted Payback Period

This procedure is used to determine the profitability of a project through the use of capital budgeting techniques such as the discounted payback period. Through the discounting of future cash flows and the recognition of the time value of money, a discounted payback period can be calculated to determine how many years it will take to break even from an initial investment. An evaluation of the feasibility and profitability of a given project is carried out using this metric. Because it assumes only a single, upfront investment and does not take into account the time value of money, the more simplified payback period formula, which simply divides the total cash outlay for the project by the average annual cash flows, does not provide as accurate an answer to the question of whether or not to take on a project.

Companies and investors want to know when their investment will pay off before embarking on any project. This means that they want to know when the cash flows generated by the project will be sufficient to pay off their initial investment. This is particularly useful because businesses and investors frequently have to choose between multiple projects or investments, and being able to predict when certain projects will pay off in comparison to others makes the decision process easier.

To calculate the discounted payback period, the future estimated cash flows of a project are taken and discounted to the present value using the discounted payback period formula. When compared to the initial outlay of capital for the investment, this is a significant savings. The amount of time it takes for the present value of future cash flows to equal the initial cost of a project or investment to break even provides an indication of when the project or investment will achieve financial breakeven. The point after that is the point at which cash flows will be greater than the initial investment.

The shorter the discounted payback period, the sooner a project or investment will generate enough cash flow to cover its initial investment. When using the discounted payback period, a general rule to keep in mind is to accept projects that have a payback period that is shorter than the target timeframe. Using the discounted payback period analysis, a company can determine whether a project should be approved or rejected based on its required break-even date and the point at which it will break even according to the discounted cash flows used in the discounted payback period analysis

Discounted Payback Period Formula

Discounted Payback Period = Year Before the Discounted Payback Period Occurs + (Cumulative Cash Flow in Year Before Recovery / Discounted Cash Flow in Year After Recovery)

Pros and Cons of Discounted Payback Period


  • For this reason, many managers in the organization prefer discounted payback period calculations because they take the time value of money into consideration when calculating the payback period.

  • It is used to assess the actual risk associated with a project and to determine whether or not the investments made are recoverable.


  • When calculating the payback period using the discounted payback period method, it is impossible to determine whether the investment will increase the value of the company or not.

  • It does not take into account projects that can last for a longer period of time than the payback period. It disregards all calculations that take place after the discounted payback period.

  • The primary disadvantage of using this payback period is that it does not provide the manager with the precise information needed to make an informed decision about whether or not to invest in a project. In order to calculate the payback period, the business manager must make an assumption about the interest rate or the cost of capital.

  • A complex calculation for the discounted payback period may be required if there are multiple negative cash flows during the course of an investment period.

Payback Period vs. Discounted Payback Period

The payback period is the amount of time it takes for a project to break even in terms of cash collections when using nominal dollars as the basis of the calculation. Alternatively, the discounted payback period represents the amount of time required to break even on a project, taking into account not only the cash flows that occur, but also the timing of those cash flows and the current rate of return in the market.

Although these two calculations are similar, the results of these two calculations may differ due to the discounting of cash flows. Projects with higher cash flows toward the end of a project's life cycle, for example, will experience greater discounting as a result of the compound interest effect. The payback period may therefore return a positive value, whereas the discounted payback period may return a negative value as a result of this.