Games of Strategy: An Introduction 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 Games of Strategy: An Introduction case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Games of Strategy: An Introduction case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Vijay Krishna. The Games of Strategy: An Introduction (referred as “Induction Backwards” 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.

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 Games of Strategy: An Introduction Case Study

An introduction to the formal analysis of strategic situations. Ideas of game trees, backwards induction, and dominated strategies are introduced. The methods of backwards induction to find optimal strategies is related to the method of successive eliminations of dominated strategies for games of perfect information.

Case Authors : Vijay Krishna

Topic : Strategy & Execution

Related Areas : Decision making

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Games of Strategy: An Introduction Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10027447) -10027447 - -
Year 1 3463482 -6563965 3463482 0.9434 3267436
Year 2 3959393 -2604572 7422875 0.89 3523846
Year 3 3942090 1337518 11364965 0.8396 3309855
Year 4 3234014 4571532 14598979 0.7921 2561642
TOTAL 14598979 12662778

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2635331

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. Profitability Index
2. Internal Rate of Return
3. Payback Period
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. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Induction Backwards 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. Induction Backwards 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 Games of Strategy: An Introduction

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 Induction Backwards 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 Induction Backwards 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 (10027447) -10027447 - -
Year 1 3463482 -6563965 3463482 0.8696 3011723
Year 2 3959393 -2604572 7422875 0.7561 2993870
Year 3 3942090 1337518 11364965 0.6575 2591988
Year 4 3234014 4571532 14598979 0.5718 1849058
TOTAL 10446640

The Net NPV after 4 years is 419193

(10446640 - 10027447 )

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 (10027447) -10027447 - -
Year 1 3463482 -6563965 3463482 0.8333 2886235
Year 2 3959393 -2604572 7422875 0.6944 2749578
Year 3 3942090 1337518 11364965 0.5787 2281302
Year 4 3234014 4571532 14598979 0.4823 1559613
TOTAL 9476729

The Net NPV after 4 years is -550718

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9476729 - 10027447 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Induction Backwards 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 Induction Backwards has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Induction Backwards 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 Induction Backwards, then the stock price of the Induction Backwards 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 Induction Backwards 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 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.

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

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

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

Vijay Krishna (2018), "Games of Strategy: An Introduction Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.