Mary Kay China: People and Love Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for Mary Kay China: People and Love case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Mary Kay China: People and Love case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Jean Lee, Liman Zhao, Yunting Lu. The Mary Kay China: People and Love (referred as “Kay Mary” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Organizational Development. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, .

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of Mary Kay China: People and Love Case Study

Mary Kay (China) Cosmetics Co., Ltd. (Mary Kay China) was one of China's leading direct-enterprises in skincare products and cosmetics. In September 2015, the president of Mary Kay China was considering how best to continue to grow the company in the face of increasing e-commerce. The parent company and all its subsidiaries ascribed to the mission of enriching women's lives; its guiding principles emphasized relationships and connections between people. Mary Kay China's development was a testament to its success as a people-oriented culture that contributed to the environment and society. However, the Internet era had raised concerns about whether the connections among the company's people were strong enough to succeed against competitors who maintained a broad network developed through the Internet. Should Mary Kay China expand into e-commerce, or would relying on the Internet undermine the principles and values that grounded the company? The authors are affiliated with China Europe International Business School.

Case Authors : Jean Lee, Liman Zhao, Yunting Lu

Topic : Organizational Development

Related Areas :

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Mary Kay China: People and Love Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10004544) -10004544 - -
Year 1 3446610 -6557934 3446610 0.9434 3251519
Year 2 3969787 -2588147 7416397 0.89 3533096
Year 3 3946262 1358115 11362659 0.8396 3313358
Year 4 3249390 4607505 14612049 0.7921 2573821
TOTAL 14612049 12671794

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2667250

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Internal Rate of Return
2. Profitability Index
3. Payback Period
4. Net Present Value

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Kay Mary have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.
2. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Kay Mary shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Mary Kay China: People and Love

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Organizational Development Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Kay Mary often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Kay Mary needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10004544) -10004544 - -
Year 1 3446610 -6557934 3446610 0.8696 2997052
Year 2 3969787 -2588147 7416397 0.7561 3001729
Year 3 3946262 1358115 11362659 0.6575 2594731
Year 4 3249390 4607505 14612049 0.5718 1857849
TOTAL 10451362

The Net NPV after 4 years is 446818

(10451362 - 10004544 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10004544) -10004544 - -
Year 1 3446610 -6557934 3446610 0.8333 2872175
Year 2 3969787 -2588147 7416397 0.6944 2756797
Year 3 3946262 1358115 11362659 0.5787 2283716
Year 4 3249390 4607505 14612049 0.4823 1567028
TOTAL 9479716

The Net NPV after 4 years is -524828

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9479716 - 10004544 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Kay Mary to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Kay Mary has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Kay Mary can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Kay Mary, then the stock price of the Kay Mary should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Kay Mary should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Jean Lee, Liman Zhao, Yunting Lu (2018), "Mary Kay China: People and Love Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.