A Guide to Understand Present Value VS. Net Present Value: What's The Difference?
Jun 04, 2022 By Susan Kelly


The present value (PV) is the present worth of the future amount of cash or a stream of cash flow based on a certain yield. Additionally, net present value (NPV) is the difference between the PV of cash inflows and the cash outflows over time. Present value lets you know what you'll need in current dollars to make a certain amount shortly. The NPV is used to decide how profitable a plan or investment might be. Both of these are important for a person's or a company's decision-making regarding capital budgeting.

Even though PV, as well as NPV both, employ a method called discounted cash flow to calculate the present value of future gains, their calculations vary crucially. In addition, the NPV formula also takes into account the capital expenditure necessary to finance the project, which makes it net. This makes it an accurate indicator of the profit potential. Since the amount of money earned today is more than the revenue that will be earned, companies discount future revenue according to the projected rates of return. This rate is referred to as the hurdle rate, which is the lowest rate of return that a project needs to generate for a company to think about making an investment in the project.

Comparing Present Value and Net Present Value

Ever thought of present value vs. net present value: what's the difference? The main distinction in PV and net present value is that PV exempts the reduced amount of future cash expenditures, whereas net present value indulges them. This implies that PV will always be more than the NPV until there is no future expenditure. Because of this, present value is typically employed when analyzing annuities when there is no need for future expenditure. Contrary to this, NPV is used to evaluate capital expenditures when cash flows are inflows as well as outflows.

Why is Net Present Value (NPV) Analysis Used?

NPV analysis is utilized to determine the value of an investment or project, or sequence of cash flows comprehensive metric that includes all expenses, revenues, and capital expenses related to a share's Free Cash Flow (FCF). Alongside calculating all costs and revenues, it also considers the timing of every cash flow, which could result in a huge influence on the present value of a share. For instance, it is better to have cash flow inflows earlier while cash flow outflows take longer as opposed to the opposite.

Why Are Cash Flows Discounted?

The net present value evaluations' cash flows are reduced for two reasons. One is to reflect the potential risk associated with an investment opportunity, and the other is to take into account the time value of money (TVM). The first one (adjust risk) is important since not all companies and projects, as well as investments, have the same risk level. Also, the likelihood of receiving cash from a US Treasury bill is much more likely than being able to receive cash flow from a new technology start-up. To reflect the risk that comes with it, rates of discount are greater for investments with risk as opposed to a safe one. The US Treasury is believed to be the risk-free percentage, as well as all other investments are rated by the risk they carry in comparison.

The second aspect (to take into account the value of money over time) is essential due to the effects of inflation as well as interest rates and other costs of opportunity. The value of money increases the earlier it's received. For instance, getting $2 million today is more valuable than $2 million you'll receive three years later. If you receive the money now, it can be put into investments to generate interest, which means it'll be worth much greater than the $2 million in three years.


The term "present value" refers to the present value of a future amount of money that a percentage of return has reduced. It informs you of what amount you'd have to invest in making a certain amount shortly. Net present value is the difference between the PV of cash inflows and outflows during a certain period. Net present value and present value make use of discount cash flow to calculate the value of income at present. In addition, net present value is also a measure of the initial investment needed to finance a project.