Sea Change: Rewriting the Rules for Port Security 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 Sea Change: Rewriting the Rules for Port Security case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Sea Change: Rewriting the Rules for Port Security case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Pamela Varley, John D. Donahue, Patricia Garcia-Rios. The Sea Change: Rewriting the Rules for Port Security (referred as “Port Security” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Strategy & Execution. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Decision making, Government, International business, Leadership, Workspaces.

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 Sea Change: Rewriting the Rules for Port Security Case Study

This case describes the task that confronted Coast Guard Captain Suzanne Englebert, the staff point-person who led an initiative to develop new regulations intended to improve the security of the nation's ports from terrorist attacks, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. It is intended for use in a strategic management class. Students are challenged to weigh an array of political, practical, legal, and technical considerations in assessing Englebert's approach. The case provides students with the background information they need to discuss the challenges inherent in tightening port security, including: basic information about the economic import of maritime trade, the range of conditions at US ports, the nature of international shipping and regulation, the particular problems posed by containerized shipping, and the kinds of terrorist attack foreseen by security experts. This case also describes several initiatives, undertaken in parallel, to improve port security immediately after 9/11, including immediate protocol shifts in the international ports, and bilateral negotiations with the largest ports outside the United States. The case introduces Englebert and describes her role in the Coast Guard's simultaneous efforts to work with US legislators to create a domestic port security law and with international partners in the International Maritime Organization to create a worldwide port security regime. The case ends with Englebert facing her next herculean task: to turn the mandates of the new federal law into specific, concrete regulations in just a few months' time. The case was designed as a companion piece to a dvd, case number: 1946.9. Case number 1946.0

Case Authors : Pamela Varley, John D. Donahue, Patricia Garcia-Rios

Topic : Strategy & Execution

Related Areas : Decision making, Government, International business, Leadership, Workspaces

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Sea Change: Rewriting the Rules for Port Security Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10017875) -10017875 - -
Year 1 3447288 -6570587 3447288 0.9434 3252158
Year 2 3972874 -2597713 7420162 0.89 3535844
Year 3 3949439 1351726 11369601 0.8396 3316025
Year 4 3241137 4592863 14610738 0.7921 2567284
TOTAL 14610738 12671311

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2653436

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. 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. Port Security 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 Port Security 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 Sea Change: Rewriting the Rules for Port Security

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 Port Security 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 Port Security 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 (10017875) -10017875 - -
Year 1 3447288 -6570587 3447288 0.8696 2997642
Year 2 3972874 -2597713 7420162 0.7561 3004064
Year 3 3949439 1351726 11369601 0.6575 2596820
Year 4 3241137 4592863 14610738 0.5718 1853131
TOTAL 10451656

The Net NPV after 4 years is 433781

(10451656 - 10017875 )

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 (10017875) -10017875 - -
Year 1 3447288 -6570587 3447288 0.8333 2872740
Year 2 3972874 -2597713 7420162 0.6944 2758940
Year 3 3949439 1351726 11369601 0.5787 2285555
Year 4 3241137 4592863 14610738 0.4823 1563048
TOTAL 9480284

The Net NPV after 4 years is -537591

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9480284 - 10017875 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Port Security 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 Port Security has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Port Security 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 Port Security, then the stock price of the Port Security 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 Port Security 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 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.

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.

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

Pamela Varley, John D. Donahue, Patricia Garcia-Rios (2018), "Sea Change: Rewriting the Rules for Port Security Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.