Polar Sports, Inc. 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 Polar Sports, Inc. case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Polar Sports, Inc. case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by W. Carl Kester, Wei Wang. The Polar Sports, Inc. (referred as “Skiwear Polar” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Finance & Accounting. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Decision making, Financial management, Manufacturing, Product development, Risk 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 Polar Sports, Inc. Case Study

Polar Sports, Inc. is a fashion skiwear manufacturing company in Littleton, Colorado. The company has a unique design for skiwear using a special synthetic material that improves insulation and durability. The ski apparel industry is highly competitive and the best way for companies to gain market share is by developing new fabrics and using innovative patterns. The firm generates over 80% of sales between September and January and relies on seasonal production to respond promptly to customer orders. During those months, the plant must rapidly increase production by hiring and training additional workers, often paying them overtime. The vice president of operations is concerned about the costs associated with seasonal production and presents a proposal to switch to level production. The change can reduce costs and improve efficiency but can also affect other aspects of company finance. Students must analyze potential cost savings and understand the financial risks involved before making a final recommendation. This case can be used in first-year MBA-level courses in finance or in advanced undergraduate finance courses.

Case Authors : W. Carl Kester, Wei Wang

Topic : Finance & Accounting

Related Areas : Decision making, Financial management, Manufacturing, Product development, Risk management

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Polar Sports, Inc. Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10020593) -10020593 - -
Year 1 3467061 -6553532 3467061 0.9434 3270812
Year 2 3957609 -2595923 7424670 0.89 3522258
Year 3 3968217 1372294 11392887 0.8396 3331792
Year 4 3237363 4609657 14630250 0.7921 2564295
TOTAL 14630250 12689156

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2668563

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. 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 Skiwear Polar 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. Skiwear Polar 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 Polar Sports, Inc.

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 Finance & Accounting 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 Skiwear Polar 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 Skiwear Polar 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 (10020593) -10020593 - -
Year 1 3467061 -6553532 3467061 0.8696 3014836
Year 2 3957609 -2595923 7424670 0.7561 2992521
Year 3 3968217 1372294 11392887 0.6575 2609167
Year 4 3237363 4609657 14630250 0.5718 1850973
TOTAL 10467497

The Net NPV after 4 years is 446904

(10467497 - 10020593 )

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 (10020593) -10020593 - -
Year 1 3467061 -6553532 3467061 0.8333 2889218
Year 2 3957609 -2595923 7424670 0.6944 2748340
Year 3 3968217 1372294 11392887 0.5787 2296422
Year 4 3237363 4609657 14630250 0.4823 1561228
TOTAL 9495207

The Net NPV after 4 years is -525386

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9495207 - 10020593 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Skiwear Polar 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 Skiwear Polar has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Skiwear Polar 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 Skiwear Polar, then the stock price of the Skiwear Polar 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 Skiwear Polar 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 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.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

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

W. Carl Kester, Wei Wang (2018), "Polar Sports, Inc. Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.