Decision: SIR>1.0 (1.15297>1.0), therefore the window investment is attractive.

An important observation regarding the four measures of worth presented to this point (PW, AW, IRR, and SIR) is that they are all consistent and equivalent. In other words, an investment that is attractive under one measure of worth will be attractive under each of the other measures of worth. A review of the decisions determined in Examples 13 through 16 will confirm the observation. Because of their consistency, it is not necessary to calculate more than one measure of investment worth to determine the attractiveness of a project. The rationale for presenting multiple measures which are essentially identical for decision making is that various individuals and companies may have a preference for one approach over another.

4.7.6 Payback Period

The payback period of an investment is generally taken to mean the number of years required to recover the initial investment through net project returns. The payback period is a popular measure of investment worth and appears in many forms in economic analysis literature and company procedure manuals. Unfortunately, all too frequently, payback period is used inappropriately and leads to decisions which focus exclusively on short term results and ignore time value of money concepts. After presenting a common form of payback period these shortcomings will be discussed.

Description: The number of years required to recover the initial investment by accumulating net project returns is determined.

Calculation Approach:

Decision Rule: If PBP is less than or equal to a predetermined limit (often called a hurdle rate), then the investment is attractive.

Important Note: This form of payback period ignores the time value of money and ignores returns beyond the predetermined limit.

The fact that this approach ignores time value of money concepts is apparent by the fact that no time value of money factors are included in the determination of m. This implicitly assumes that the applicable interest rate to convert future amounts to present amounts is zero. This implies that people are indifferent between $100 today and $100 one year from today, which is an implication that is highly inconsistent with observable behavior.

The short-term focus of the payback period measure of worth can be illustrated using the cash flow diagrams of Figure 4.8. Applying the PBP approach above yields a payback period for investment (a) of PBP=2 (1200>1000 @ t=2) and a payback period for investment (b) of PBP=4 (1000300>1000) @ t=4). If the decision hurdle rate is 3 years (a very common rate), then investment (a) is attractive but investment (b) is not. Hopefully, it is obvious that judging (b) unattractive is not good decision making since a $1,000,000 return four years after a $1,000 investment is attractive under almost any value of MARR. In point of fact, the IRR for (b) is 465% so for any value of MARR less than 465%, investment (b) is attractive.

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