Katherine Schuler at Boxes & Bins, 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 Katherine Schuler at Boxes & Bins, Inc. case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Katherine Schuler at Boxes & Bins, Inc. case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Linda A. Hill, James Kindley. The Katherine Schuler at Boxes & Bins, Inc. (referred as “Schuler Schuler's” 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, Conflict, Gender, Growth strategy, Networking, Organizational culture, Professional transitions.

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 Katherine Schuler at Boxes & Bins, Inc. Case Study

This case is about Katherine Schuler, soon to become senior vice president of marketing at a fast-growing retail organization, Boxes & Bins (B&B). Part of Schuler's success has been due to her "fit" into a company with clear values and principles. In particular, B&B always put its employees first, and eschewed debt in order to grow only as the company could afford it. Several years ago, the founders sold most of their stock to a private-equity firm, the Weichel Group, which leveraged B&B heavily in order to accelerate the opening of more stores and to pay off the founders. Even after a recent IPO, the Weichel Group remained a major shareholder, and it urged B&B to hire two senior managers from large discount retailers to run operations and merchandising. Schuler's move into her new role could lead to her becoming B&B's president if she is successful. Schuler understands that B&B needs to grow, and wants to help it do so, but is uncertain about the plans for how that growth will occur. She wants B&B to acknowledge its key success factors to date because she believes that doing so will help it move to a new future. Yet she knows that changing B&B may be impossible-therefore, leaving might be her best option.

Case Authors : Linda A. Hill, James Kindley

Topic : Leadership & Managing People

Related Areas : Conflict, Gender, Growth strategy, Networking, Organizational culture, Professional transitions

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Katherine Schuler at Boxes & Bins, Inc. Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10004186) -10004186 - -
Year 1 3448866 -6555320 3448866 0.9434 3253647
Year 2 3958706 -2596614 7407572 0.89 3523234
Year 3 3947324 1350710 11354896 0.8396 3314249
Year 4 3233802 4584512 14588698 0.7921 2561474
TOTAL 14588698 12652605

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2648419

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. Net Present Value
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. Schuler Schuler's 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 Schuler Schuler's 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 Katherine Schuler at Boxes & Bins, 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 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 Schuler Schuler's 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 Schuler Schuler's 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 (10004186) -10004186 - -
Year 1 3448866 -6555320 3448866 0.8696 2999014
Year 2 3958706 -2596614 7407572 0.7561 2993350
Year 3 3947324 1350710 11354896 0.6575 2595430
Year 4 3233802 4584512 14588698 0.5718 1848937
TOTAL 10436731

The Net NPV after 4 years is 432545

(10436731 - 10004186 )

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 (10004186) -10004186 - -
Year 1 3448866 -6555320 3448866 0.8333 2874055
Year 2 3958706 -2596614 7407572 0.6944 2749101
Year 3 3947324 1350710 11354896 0.5787 2284331
Year 4 3233802 4584512 14588698 0.4823 1559511
TOTAL 9466998

The Net NPV after 4 years is -537188

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9466998 - 10004186 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Schuler Schuler's 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 Schuler Schuler's has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Schuler Schuler's 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 Schuler Schuler's, then the stock price of the Schuler Schuler's 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 Schuler Schuler's 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 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.

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.

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

Linda A. Hill, James Kindley (2018), "Katherine Schuler at Boxes & Bins, Inc. Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.