Elan Corporation Turnaround 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 Elan Corporation Turnaround case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Elan Corporation Turnaround case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by James Shein, Robert Anstey, Nathan Lang. The Elan Corporation Turnaround (referred as “Armen Elan” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Finance & Accounting. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Costs, Crisis management.

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 Elan Corporation Turnaround Case Study

The case begins with newly appointed chairman and interim CEO Garo Armen dwelling on the significant issues that Elan Corporation, an Irish pharmaceutical company, faces. Its share price has plummeted 96% after accusations of accounting fraud and the discontinuation of an important clinical trial due to the drug's severe side effects. As a result, Elan faces insolvency. About $2 billion in debt that could no longer be satisfied in stock will soon mature, and there are questions regarding the company's structure and various operating concerns. Armen is also concerned about the ethical consequences of the company's failing and thus not being able to develop potentially life-saving medicines. Armen must decide what the nature of Elan should be moving forward and what strategy it should adopt. The operational and financial issues discussed in the case are complicated by Elan's status as an Irish company with significant international operations. The case closes with Armen reflecting on the decisions he has made-which students should critique and suggest alternatives to-as well as an open decision on choosing a successor CEO.

Case Authors : James Shein, Robert Anstey, Nathan Lang

Topic : Finance & Accounting

Related Areas : Costs, Crisis management

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Elan Corporation Turnaround Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10010256) -10010256 - -
Year 1 3460976 -6549280 3460976 0.9434 3265072
Year 2 3975591 -2573689 7436567 0.89 3538262
Year 3 3942974 1369285 11379541 0.8396 3310597
Year 4 3251828 4621113 14631369 0.7921 2575752
TOTAL 14631369 12689683

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2679427

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. Net Present Value
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. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Armen Elan 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 Armen Elan 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 Elan Corporation Turnaround

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 Finance & Accounting 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 Armen Elan 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 Armen Elan 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 (10010256) -10010256 - -
Year 1 3460976 -6549280 3460976 0.8696 3009544
Year 2 3975591 -2573689 7436567 0.7561 3006118
Year 3 3942974 1369285 11379541 0.6575 2592569
Year 4 3251828 4621113 14631369 0.5718 1859243
TOTAL 10467475

The Net NPV after 4 years is 457219

(10467475 - 10010256 )

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 (10010256) -10010256 - -
Year 1 3460976 -6549280 3460976 0.8333 2884147
Year 2 3975591 -2573689 7436567 0.6944 2760827
Year 3 3942974 1369285 11379541 0.5787 2281814
Year 4 3251828 4621113 14631369 0.4823 1568204
TOTAL 9494991

The Net NPV after 4 years is -515265

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9494991 - 10010256 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Armen Elan 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 Armen Elan has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Armen Elan 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 Armen Elan, then the stock price of the Armen Elan 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 Armen Elan 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 –

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 can impact the cash flow of the project.

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

James Shein, Robert Anstey, Nathan Lang (2018), "Elan Corporation Turnaround Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.