De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (A) 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 De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (A) case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (A) case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Pankaj Ghemawat, Toby Lenk. The De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (A) (referred as “Beers 1983” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Strategy & Execution. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, 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 De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (A) Case Study

Describes the problems facing De Beers at the start of 1983. De Beers had, since its formation in 1888, exercised a large measure of control over the world supply of diamonds. In 1983, the company itself mined over 40% of the world's natural diamonds and, through marketing arrangements with other producers, distributed over 70%. For 50 years up to 1983 the company had never lowered its prices and, overall, had raised them significantly ahead of the rate of inflation. However, in 1983 the company was faced with a series of problems that threatened the structure it had so carefully built. First, a large producing nation had stopped selling through De Beers. Second, new discoveries meant that the annual supply of mined diamonds would double by 1986. Finally, the industry was experiencing its worst slump since the 1930s, resulting in a significant deterioration in the company's financial position. Describes the structure and economics of the diamond industry and asks the student to decide whether or not De Beers should abandon the business strategy it had pursued for nearly a century.

Case Authors : Pankaj Ghemawat, Toby Lenk

Topic : Strategy & Execution

Related Areas : Crisis management

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (A) Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10023772) -10023772 - -
Year 1 3448452 -6575320 3448452 0.9434 3253257
Year 2 3982824 -2592496 7431276 0.89 3544699
Year 3 3959723 1367227 11390999 0.8396 3324660
Year 4 3228579 4595806 14619578 0.7921 2557337
TOTAL 14619578 12679953

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2656181

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. Payback Period
3. Net Present Value
4. Profitability Index

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. Beers 1983 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 Beers 1983 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 De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (A)

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 Strategy & Execution 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 Beers 1983 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 Beers 1983 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 (10023772) -10023772 - -
Year 1 3448452 -6575320 3448452 0.8696 2998654
Year 2 3982824 -2592496 7431276 0.7561 3011587
Year 3 3959723 1367227 11390999 0.6575 2603582
Year 4 3228579 4595806 14619578 0.5718 1845951
TOTAL 10459774

The Net NPV after 4 years is 436002

(10459774 - 10023772 )

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 (10023772) -10023772 - -
Year 1 3448452 -6575320 3448452 0.8333 2873710
Year 2 3982824 -2592496 7431276 0.6944 2765850
Year 3 3959723 1367227 11390999 0.5787 2291506
Year 4 3228579 4595806 14619578 0.4823 1556992
TOTAL 9488059

The Net NPV after 4 years is -535713

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9488059 - 10023772 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Beers 1983 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 Beers 1983 has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Beers 1983 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 Beers 1983, then the stock price of the Beers 1983 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 Beers 1983 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.

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.

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.

Understanding of risks involved in 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

Pankaj Ghemawat, Toby Lenk (2018), "De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. (A) Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.