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NPV: Imagicast Net Present Value Case Analysis

Imagicast 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 Imagicast case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Imagicast case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by John T. Gourville, Alison Berkley Wagonfeld. The Imagicast (referred as “Imagicast Kiosk” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Sales & Marketing. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Collaboration, Crisis management, Disruptive innovation, Forecasting, Product development, Strategy, Technology.

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 Imagicast Case Study

Imagicast has brought to market an interactive, multimedia retail kiosk designed to increase product sales. In spite of promising projections by industry analysts and detailed demand forecasts by Imagicast management, the company has yet to sell a single kiosk. Time and money are running out and the company has to decide what to do next.

Case Authors : John T. Gourville, Alison Berkley Wagonfeld

Topic : Sales & Marketing

Related Areas : Collaboration, Crisis management, Disruptive innovation, Forecasting, Product development, Strategy, Technology

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Imagicast Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10007586) -10007586 - -
Year 1 3447444 -6560142 3447444 0.9434 3252306
Year 2 3971062 -2589080 7418506 0.89 3534231
Year 3 3942031 1352951 11360537 0.8396 3309805
Year 4 3230640 4583591 14591177 0.7921 2558969
TOTAL 14591177 12655311

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2647725

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

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of Imagicast

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 Imagicast Kiosk 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 Imagicast Kiosk 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 (10007586) -10007586 - -
Year 1 3447444 -6560142 3447444 0.8696 2997777
Year 2 3971062 -2589080 7418506 0.7561 3002693
Year 3 3942031 1352951 11360537 0.6575 2591949
Year 4 3230640 4583591 14591177 0.5718 1847129
TOTAL 10439549

The Net NPV after 4 years is 431963

(10439549 - 10007586 )

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 (10007586) -10007586 - -
Year 1 3447444 -6560142 3447444 0.8333 2872870
Year 2 3971062 -2589080 7418506 0.6944 2757682
Year 3 3942031 1352951 11360537 0.5787 2281268
Year 4 3230640 4583591 14591177 0.4823 1557986
TOTAL 9469806

The Net NPV after 4 years is -537780

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9469806 - 10007586 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Imagicast Kiosk 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 Imagicast Kiosk has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Imagicast Kiosk 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 Imagicast Kiosk, then the stock price of the Imagicast Kiosk 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 Imagicast Kiosk 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 can impact the cash flow of the project.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

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

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

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.

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

John T. Gourville, Alison Berkley Wagonfeld (2018), "Imagicast Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.