The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy 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 The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Stacey Childress, Andrea Alexander. The The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy (referred as “Posse Colleges” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Innovation & Entrepreneurship. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Growth strategy, Joint ventures, Social enterprise, Social responsibility.

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 The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy Case Study

To maximize their effectiveness, color cases should be printed in color.The Posse Foundation selected high-potential, non-traditional students to attend selective colleges as part of a group of 10 from the same city. The organization had developed an ambitious growth plan, but because it focused on the most selective colleges, the pool of available university partners was somewhat limited. Some members of Posse's board wondered if the organization should broaden the criteria for potential partner colleges in order to more quickly grow the number of students it served. If Posse defined its impact as helping as many non-traditional students as possible enter and graduate from college, expanding the list of acceptable partners might make sense. But CEO Deborah Bial believed that selective colleges provided posse scholars with more than just superior career opportunities - they were a gateway to influential leadership positions and powerful networks. If Posse defined its impact as changing the demographic makeup of the leadership of professions such as law, business, medicine, and education, then perhaps it should continue to target only the most selective colleges. The case provides an opportunity for readers in the CEO's shoes and weigh the consequences of each approach.

Case Authors : Stacey Childress, Andrea Alexander

Topic : Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Related Areas : Growth strategy, Joint ventures, Social enterprise, Social responsibility

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10020610) -10020610 - -
Year 1 3469558 -6551052 3469558 0.9434 3273168
Year 2 3959510 -2591542 7429068 0.89 3523950
Year 3 3950475 1358933 11379543 0.8396 3316895
Year 4 3242819 4601752 14622362 0.7921 2568616
TOTAL 14622362 12682629

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2662019

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. Net Present Value
2. Internal Rate of Return
3. Payback Period
4. Profitability Index

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. Posse Colleges 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 Posse Colleges 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 The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy

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 Innovation & Entrepreneurship 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 Posse Colleges 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 Posse Colleges 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 (10020610) -10020610 - -
Year 1 3469558 -6551052 3469558 0.8696 3017007
Year 2 3959510 -2591542 7429068 0.7561 2993958
Year 3 3950475 1358933 11379543 0.6575 2597501
Year 4 3242819 4601752 14622362 0.5718 1854092
TOTAL 10462559

The Net NPV after 4 years is 441949

(10462559 - 10020610 )

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 (10020610) -10020610 - -
Year 1 3469558 -6551052 3469558 0.8333 2891298
Year 2 3959510 -2591542 7429068 0.6944 2749660
Year 3 3950475 1358933 11379543 0.5787 2286155
Year 4 3242819 4601752 14622362 0.4823 1563859
TOTAL 9490972

The Net NPV after 4 years is -529638

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9490972 - 10020610 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Posse Colleges 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 Posse Colleges has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Posse Colleges 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 Posse Colleges, then the stock price of the Posse Colleges 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 Posse Colleges 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

Stacey Childress, Andrea Alexander (2018), "The Posse Foundation: Implementing a Growth Strategy Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.