Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation 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 Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Willy Shih, Chen-Fu Chien. The Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (referred as “Elpida Powerchip” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Technology & Operations. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Joint ventures, Mergers & acquisitions, Organizational structure, Supply chain, 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 Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation Case Study

To maximize their effectiveness, color cases should be printed in color.Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation has a horizontal firm structure in an industry that is predominantly organized vertically. While it has been successful in up markets, in the current down market its strategic rationale was being tested. As a capital intensive manufacturer of DRAMs that had to license its designs from abroad, was it able to compete with large vertically integrated firms who controlled the whole value chain? How did its approach compare to that of its partner Elpida? Can Powerchip and Elpida together make up a "virtual integrated device manufacturer?" The case examines some of the unique characteristics of the DRAM industry, in which manufacturers employ large scale to compete on cost in the production of standardized commodities.

Case Authors : Willy Shih, Chen-Fu Chien

Topic : Technology & Operations

Related Areas : Joint ventures, Mergers & acquisitions, Organizational structure, Supply chain, Technology

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10027659) -10027659 - -
Year 1 3459365 -6568294 3459365 0.9434 3263552
Year 2 3966755 -2601539 7426120 0.89 3530398
Year 3 3937139 1335600 11363259 0.8396 3305698
Year 4 3232570 4568170 14595829 0.7921 2560498
TOTAL 14595829 12660146

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2632487

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. Elpida Powerchip 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 Elpida Powerchip 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 Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation

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 Technology & Operations 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 Elpida Powerchip 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 Elpida Powerchip 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 (10027659) -10027659 - -
Year 1 3459365 -6568294 3459365 0.8696 3008143
Year 2 3966755 -2601539 7426120 0.7561 2999437
Year 3 3937139 1335600 11363259 0.6575 2588733
Year 4 3232570 4568170 14595829 0.5718 1848232
TOTAL 10444545

The Net NPV after 4 years is 416886

(10444545 - 10027659 )

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 (10027659) -10027659 - -
Year 1 3459365 -6568294 3459365 0.8333 2882804
Year 2 3966755 -2601539 7426120 0.6944 2754691
Year 3 3937139 1335600 11363259 0.5787 2278437
Year 4 3232570 4568170 14595829 0.4823 1558917
TOTAL 9474849

The Net NPV after 4 years is -552810

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9474849 - 10027659 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Elpida Powerchip 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 Elpida Powerchip has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Elpida Powerchip 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 Elpida Powerchip, then the stock price of the Elpida Powerchip 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 Elpida Powerchip 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 will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

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

Willy Shih, Chen-Fu Chien (2018), "Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.