Skutis: Negotiating Production in China 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 Skutis: Negotiating Production in China case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Skutis: Negotiating Production in China case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Stephen Grainger. The Skutis: Negotiating Production in China (referred as “Skutis Scooter” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Global Business. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Negotiations.

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 Skutis: Negotiating Production in China Case Study

In August 2015, a law student in Singapore came up with the idea for his first scooter when he needed a simple and economical mode of transport to get from his apartment to university. The student, who was Norwegian, and his Singaporean partner registered and incorporated Skutis Corporation Pte Ltd (Skutis) within only five days. The Skutis e-scooter emitted no fumes or noise and featured a quick folding design for easy storage. As new entrants in the industry, they felt confident that their combined study skills (law and business) would help them design and produce a more durable and dynamic scooter than those currently available. However, by April 2017, Skutis had already encountered major difficulties dealing with a Chinese manufacturer of its products. After 20 months of experience in the market, the two entrepreneurs were planning their company's strategy for the future. Having experienced the lows and highs of the Chinese production market, they were searching for ways to make their business more profitable and develop a long-term trustworthy relationship with a reliable manufacturer who would produce their designs. Stephen Grainger is affiliated with University of Notre Dame Australia.

Case Authors : Stephen Grainger

Topic : Global Business

Related Areas : Negotiations

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Skutis: Negotiating Production in China Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10029096) -10029096 - -
Year 1 3458883 -6570213 3458883 0.9434 3263097
Year 2 3974028 -2596185 7432911 0.89 3536871
Year 3 3941077 1344892 11373988 0.8396 3309004
Year 4 3233039 4577931 14607027 0.7921 2560870
TOTAL 14607027 12669842

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2640746

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. Payback Period
2. Internal Rate of Return
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. Skutis Scooter 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 Skutis Scooter 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 Skutis: Negotiating Production in China

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 Global Business 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 Skutis Scooter 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 Skutis Scooter 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 (10029096) -10029096 - -
Year 1 3458883 -6570213 3458883 0.8696 3007724
Year 2 3974028 -2596185 7432911 0.7561 3004936
Year 3 3941077 1344892 11373988 0.6575 2591322
Year 4 3233039 4577931 14607027 0.5718 1848501
TOTAL 10452483

The Net NPV after 4 years is 423387

(10452483 - 10029096 )

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 (10029096) -10029096 - -
Year 1 3458883 -6570213 3458883 0.8333 2882403
Year 2 3974028 -2596185 7432911 0.6944 2759742
Year 3 3941077 1344892 11373988 0.5787 2280716
Year 4 3233039 4577931 14607027 0.4823 1559143
TOTAL 9482003

The Net NPV after 4 years is -547093

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9482003 - 10029096 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Skutis Scooter 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 Skutis Scooter has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Skutis Scooter 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 Skutis Scooter, then the stock price of the Skutis Scooter 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 Skutis Scooter 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 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 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

Stephen Grainger (2018), "Skutis: Negotiating Production in China Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.