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The Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat 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 Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat case study


At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. The Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Pamela Varley, John D. Donahue, Patricia Garcia-Rios. The The Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat (referred as “Sims County” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Leadership & Managing People. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Leadership, Policy, Strategic planning, Sustainability.

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 Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat Case Study


This public leadership case puts students in the shoes of King County Executive Ron Sims, the top elected official in Washington State's largest and most diverse county. The year is 2005, and Sims wishes to take a high profile leadership role on the climate change issue-locally and on the national stage-by tackling the nearly uncharted realm of "adaptation," preparing at the local level for impacts of climate change considered inevitable. In addition to addressing certain generic leadership challenges-how to navigate the difficult intersection of politics and science, how to think about uncertainty, how to make an argument for long term investments, how to prove effective on both local and national stage-the case has the advantage of introducing readers to a compelling contemporary public issue, sure to grow in urgency worldwide. The case details the array of considerations that went into Sims' decision to take on the adaptation issue, including a brief summary of a concurrent local debate about designing a new wastewater treatment plant to deliver reclaimed water to customers in the future, if needed. HKS Case Number 1906.0


Case Authors : Pamela Varley, John D. Donahue, Patricia Garcia-Rios

Topic : Leadership & Managing People

Related Areas : Leadership, Policy, Strategic planning, Sustainability




Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for The Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat Case Study


Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10007178) -10007178 - -
Year 1 3456652 -6550526 3456652 0.9434 3260992
Year 2 3982387 -2568139 7439039 0.89 3544310
Year 3 3944146 1376007 11383185 0.8396 3311581
Year 4 3236408 4612415 14619593 0.7921 2563538
TOTAL 14619593 12680422


The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2673244

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. Sims County 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 Sims County 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 Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat

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 Leadership & Managing People 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 Sims County 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 Sims County 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 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10007178) -10007178 - -
Year 1 3456652 -6550526 3456652 0.8696 3005784
Year 2 3982387 -2568139 7439039 0.7561 3011257
Year 3 3944146 1376007 11383185 0.6575 2593340
Year 4 3236408 4612415 14619593 0.5718 1850427
TOTAL 10460808


The Net NPV after 4 years is 453630

(10460808 - 10007178 )






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 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10007178) -10007178 - -
Year 1 3456652 -6550526 3456652 0.8333 2880543
Year 2 3982387 -2568139 7439039 0.6944 2765547
Year 3 3944146 1376007 11383185 0.5787 2282492
Year 4 3236408 4612415 14619593 0.4823 1560768
TOTAL 9489350


The Net NPV after 4 years is -517828

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9489350 - 10007178 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Sims County 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 Sims County has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Sims County 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 Sims County, then the stock price of the Sims County 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 Sims County 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 can impact the cash flow of 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.

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

Pamela Varley, John D. Donahue, Patricia Garcia-Rios (2018), "The Challenge of Adapting to Climate Change: King County Brings Local Action to a Global Threat Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.