FirstCry.com: Fighting to Lead the Giant Online Baby Care Products Market 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 FirstCry.com: Fighting to Lead the Giant Online Baby Care Products Market case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. FirstCry.com: Fighting to Lead the Giant Online Baby Care Products Market case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Nirankush Dutta, Anil K. Bhat. The FirstCry.com: Fighting to Lead the Giant Online Baby Care Products Market (referred as “Firstcry Baby” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Sales & Marketing. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Entrepreneurship, Strategy.

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 FirstCry.com: Fighting to Lead the Giant Online Baby Care Products Market Case Study

Powered by 27 million births a year and a growing middle to upper class, India's baby care e-tailing sector is expected to grow to US $500 million by 2017. FirstCry, established in December 2010 with seed capital of Rs. 25 million (about US $548,000), has gradually emerged as Asia's largest online shopping portal for products for children and expectant mothers with an inventory of more than 90,000 items from over 1,200 top international and Indian brands. Aiming to create a seamless experience focused on constant innovation, improvement, and added value, FirstCry faces challenges related to logistics, payment gateways, and intense competition to gain new customers in this lucrative market. In the tumultuous online baby care products market, which has seen several major businesses close their doors or be acquired by others, how will FirstCry maintain its lead and grow its business in the next few years?

Case Authors : Nirankush Dutta, Anil K. Bhat

Topic : Sales & Marketing

Related Areas : Entrepreneurship, Strategy

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for FirstCry.com: Fighting to Lead the Giant Online Baby Care Products Market Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10002094) -10002094 - -
Year 1 3446060 -6556034 3446060 0.9434 3251000
Year 2 3974111 -2581923 7420171 0.89 3536945
Year 3 3938668 1356745 11358839 0.8396 3306982
Year 4 3225499 4582244 14584338 0.7921 2554897
TOTAL 14584338 12649824

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2647730

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

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 Firstcry Baby 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. Firstcry Baby 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 FirstCry.com: Fighting to Lead the Giant Online Baby Care Products Market

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 Sales & Marketing 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 Firstcry Baby 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 Firstcry Baby 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 (10002094) -10002094 - -
Year 1 3446060 -6556034 3446060 0.8696 2996574
Year 2 3974111 -2581923 7420171 0.7561 3004999
Year 3 3938668 1356745 11358839 0.6575 2589738
Year 4 3225499 4582244 14584338 0.5718 1844190
TOTAL 10435500

The Net NPV after 4 years is 433406

(10435500 - 10002094 )

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 (10002094) -10002094 - -
Year 1 3446060 -6556034 3446060 0.8333 2871717
Year 2 3974111 -2581923 7420171 0.6944 2759799
Year 3 3938668 1356745 11358839 0.5787 2279322
Year 4 3225499 4582244 14584338 0.4823 1555507
TOTAL 9466345

The Net NPV after 4 years is -535749

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9466345 - 10002094 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Firstcry Baby 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 Firstcry Baby has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Firstcry Baby 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 Firstcry Baby, then the stock price of the Firstcry Baby 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 Firstcry Baby 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 can impact the cash flow of the project.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

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.

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

Nirankush Dutta, Anil K. Bhat (2018), "FirstCry.com: Fighting to Lead the Giant Online Baby Care Products Market Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.