Difference Between NPV and IRR

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 22, 2022


Difference Between NPV and IRR Difference Between NPV and IRR

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An investment project's cash flow may be valued using the NPV technique, which employs the cost of capital as a discounting rate to calculate the present value of the cash flow. A better term to use is "internal rate of return," or simply "IRR," which is defined as the interest rate at which the present value of future cash flows equals the capital outflow's original cost.

Every business eventually finds itself in a predicament where it must choose between competing priorities. NPV and IRR are two of the most often employed metrics by companies when evaluating investment proposals. There are times when the NPV technique supports one project, but the IRR method favours another; in these cases, the two criteria offer contradicting findings.

The project's inflows, outflows, and life span are the leading causes of conflict between the two. Learn the differences between NPV and IRR by reading this article.


Net present value is abbreviated as NPV, while the internal rate of return is abbreviated as IRR. One way to calculate the net current value (NPV) is to look at how much money a project will bring throughout the project's lifespan. A different definition of IRR is a discount rate that allows the net present value of cash inflows from a specific task to be equal to zero. The net current value technique is more commonly utilized when analyzing long-term projects, but the internal rate of return method is most widely used when evaluating short-term projects.

Different Between NPV and IRR in Tabular Form

Table: NPV vs IRR
Parameters of comparison
Full form
NPV stands for Net Present Value in its whole form.
An IRR's full name is Internal Rate of Return (IRR).
If you subtract the present value of cash outflows from the present value of cash inflows, you get the net present value (NPV).
Net present value of all future cash inflows is equal to zero when the IRR discount rate is used.
The monetary return used to compute Net Present Value is called the currency return.
Percentage returns are used to compute the Internal Rate of Return.
Measurement in the
absolute sense.
Comparative analysis.
Evaluation of projects when there are constant movements in cash flows.
Even in the case of fluctuating cash flows, the NPV approach may be utilised to assess projects and investment plans.
When cash flows are constantly fluctuating, the IRR approach cannot be used to evaluate projects; that is, when cash flows are a mix of negative and positive.
Not very adaptable.
Additional wealth
Additional wealth can be evaluated using the Net Present Value technique.
The internal rate of return technique is not able to account for any additional wealth that may be accrued.
ROI or rate of interest
Return on investment (ROI) is treated as a known quantity in the net present value technique.
ROI is not a recognised element in the internal rate of return methodology.
Suitability with respect to the tenure of the projects.
It is appropriate to use the net present value technique in projects that are expected to last for a longer period of time.
The internal rate of return approach is appropriate for initiatives that are expected to last just a limited period of time.
People may quickly grasp the net present value approach.
Only company managers can understand the internal rate of return technique.
Acceptance of the project
A project's NPV can be accepted if it's positive using this approach.
The project can be approved if r>k according to this approach.
Market ROI (rate of interest)
Cost of capital or market return on investment is taken into account in the net present value technique.
The market return on investment is not taken into account by the internal rate of return calculation.
the needed ROR is assumed to be reinvested via the net present value method (Rate of return).
Cash inflows and outflows are assumed to be reinvested at the internal rate of return when computing the internal rate of return.
An investment's true worth can be determined using the net present value approach.
Maximize your return on investment (ROI) by using the internal rate of return methodology.
Project surpluses are the focus of the net present value technique.
It is primarily concerned with the project's break-even cash flows when using the internal rate of return technique.

What is Net Present Value or NPV?

NPV, or Net Present Value, is a capital budgeting method that predicts the profitability of investments. It's the difference between the investment's current value and the present value of all future cash outflows. NPV is based on the time value of money. Money is more valuable today than it will be in the future.

Investors utilize the net present value (NPV) to assess the profitability of an investment. NPV is also used by businesses to identify the best project. Cash flows from an investment are calculated in NPV. Then, applying the discount rate, they are reduced to their current worth. Last but not least, the investment is deducted from the final total. A firm or investment is said to be profitable if the NPV is positive. A sunk cost is an investment with a negative return on investment (ROI). If the net present value (NPV) is zero, the investor will not care.

Formula for Calculating NPV

The initial investment is subtracted from the discounted future cash flows to arrive at the Net Present Value. The formula for computing NPV is as follows:

NPV = (C1/(1+r)^t1 + C2/(1+r)^t2 …. + Cn/(1+r)^tn) – Initial Investment

Where C1, C2, Cn are cash flow for time periods 1, 2, until n number of years.

r is the discount rate

t1, t2, tn are the different time periods.

Initially, the money put into the enterprise is known as the original investment.

The cash flow of the enterprise is well-known to every potential investor. Investment returns that are similar in terms of risk or borrowing costs (interest) are used to estimate the discount rate.


Let's use an example to better grasp Net Present Value NPV. An initial cash flow of INR 753,000 is generated by an investment. During the following five years, the project's cash flow is expected to be INR 15,000, INR 20,000, INR 30,000, INR 45,000, and INR 50,000. A equivalent investment yields a return of 12 percent. Thus, the discount rate is 12 percent. The NPV technique may be used to calculate the investment's Net Present Value.

NPV = (15000/(1+.12)^1 + 20000/(1+.12)^2 + 30000/(1+.12)^3 + 45000/(1+.12)^4 + 50000/(1+.12)^5) – 75000

NPV = 1,07,659.79– 75,000

Net Present Value = INR 32,659.79

A positive net present value indicates that the project is a viable investment opportunity.

What is IRR?

The Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is a financial measure that may be used to estimate the profitability of an investment. The net present value of the cash flows is 0 at this rate. In other words, the NPV equals 0 at this point.

Comparison of investment, project, and company prospects using IRR is a common practise. A variety of capital budgeting initiatives benefit from its analysis. The cost of capital may also be compared using IRR. A project is profitable if its internal rate of return is greater than its cost of capital. A project should not be considered for investment if its internal rate of return (IRR) is less than the cost of capital.

To put it another way, an investment opportunity can't be evaluated just by its IRR. Investment decisions must take into account a wide range of quantitative and qualitative elements.

NPV is always zero in IRR calculations. As a result, the cash flow of a project will be equal to the cash flow of the project. It is easier to compare investments since the internal rate of return is expressed as a percentage. Additionally, the needed rate of return is referred to as the RRR or the required return on investment. If the project's IRR is higher than its RRR, the company should invest. Investment should go to the project with the greatest difference between internal rate of return (IRR) and external rate of return (RRR).

Formula for Calculating IRR

The Net Present Value formula is used in the IRR calculation.

NPV = (Cash flows /(1+r)^n) – Initial investment


Cash flows = All the cash flows during the time period of investment.

r = IRR

n = time period.

The first investment in the project is made here.

Return on investment (IRR) is a metric used to compare the present value of all future cash flows to the investment's initial capital expenditure. For a given IRR, all cash inflows and outflows are precisely equal. As a result, this is the optimal rate at which investors may benefit from their investment.

The NPV is always 0 when calculating IRR. It is, however, a time-consuming and error-prone operation to solve IRR manually. However, IRR may be calculated with software such as Microsoft Excel.


Let's use an example to better grasp IRR. The corporation must pick between two projects each requiring an investment of INR 7,00,000, and they are mutually incompatible. Project A's four-year cash inflows are INR 2 lakh, INR 2.5 lakh, INR 3 lakh, and INR 5 lakhs. There would be a total of INR 5 lakh in financial inflows over the next four years from project B. Excel's IRR function may be used to determine internal rate of return (IRR).

In Microsoft Excel, the IRR formula is: = IRR (cash flows)

The Internal Rate of Return for Project A

Listed below are the project A's positive and negative cash flow results:

The Internal Rate of Return for Project B is

Listed below are the project B's positive and negative cash flow projections:

Project 2


Year 0


Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


Year 4




Project B would be chosen by the corporation if IRR were taken into consideration. Because project B's return (32 percent) is higher than project A's (20 percent), this is the case (24 percent).

Project A


Year 0


Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


Year 4





IRR vs NPV in Capital Budgeting

Consider the following yearly cash flows for a new project:

Year 1 = -$50,000 (initial capital outlay)

Year 2 = $115,000 return

Year 3 = -$66,000 in new marketing costs to revise the look of the project.

This situation necessitates the usage of several IRRs. Remember that IRR is the discount rate or the interest rate required to break even on a project's original investment. Projects with numerous IRRs are possible if the market conditions alter over time. Furthermore, a project with changing cash flows and extra capital expenditures might have numerous separate IRRs.

For those who favour the IRR technique, another challenge arises when the discount rate is not known. The IRR must be compared to a discount rate before it can be used to evaluate a project. IRR exceeding the discount rate means the project is a good investment opportunity. The project is considered unachievable if it falls below this threshold. The IRR is of little use if a discount rate is unknown or cannot be applied to a single project for any reason. The NPV technique is better in situations like these. If a project's net present value (NPV) is greater than zero, it is deemed financially viable.

Main Differences Between NVP and IRR in Points

  • The internal rate of return is a relative total, whereas the net present value is an absolute amount.
  • The net present value may be used if the cash flow fluctuates. However, the internal rate of return cannot be used.
  • It is acceptable if the project's Net present value is positive. On the other hand, an IRR project can be approved if the internal rate of return is greater than the weighted average cost of capital.
  • The discount rate used in the internal rate of return approach, on the other hand, results in a net present value of zero when using the net current value method.
  • However, the internal rate of return of the net present value technique may only be used to evaluate increased wealth.
  • The return method's internal rate is fixed, but the net present value approach is adjustable.
  • Intermediate cash inflows and outflows can be reinvested at a cut-off rate in an NPV technique, whereas they are assumed to be reinvested at the IRR rate in an IRR method. '
  • The NPV technique is more suited for long-term projects, whereas the IRR method is better suited for short-term ventures.
  • While the NPV approach uses a known interest rate, the IRR method uses an unknown rate of interest.
  • While the NPV of a project is computed and stated in currency or monetary return, IRR is determined and reported in the form of percentage return for a project.


There are two techniques of discounting cash flows, Net Present Worth and Internal Rate of Return, which both take into account the time value of money. Similarly, both techniques take into account all of the project's financial flows.

It is assumed that the discount rate is known and constant during the calculation of Net Present Value. IRR, on the other hand, is defined as the NPV set at '0,' and the rate that satisfies this requirement.


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"Difference Between NPV and IRR." Diffzy.com, 2022. Sun. 25 Sep. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-npv-and-irr-277>.

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