Pillsbury: Customer Driven Reengineering 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 Pillsbury: Customer Driven Reengineering case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. Pillsbury: Customer Driven Reengineering case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Robert S. Kaplan. The Pillsbury: Customer Driven Reengineering (referred as “Pillsbury Reengineering” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Finance & Accounting. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Business processes, Change management, Costs, Customers, Manufacturing.

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 Pillsbury: Customer Driven Reengineering Case Study

Pillsbury is transforming itself from an integrated producer of flour and bakery products to a value-added supplier of premium branded products. After initial successes applying activity-based costing to manufacturing operations, two senior executives decide to collaborate to propose a major reengineering project across the company's entire value chain. The case describes the project's definition and scope to yield projected annual cost savings and margin improvement between $100 and $300 million.

Case Authors : Robert S. Kaplan

Topic : Finance & Accounting

Related Areas : Business processes, Change management, Costs, Customers, Manufacturing

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for Pillsbury: Customer Driven Reengineering Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10004877) -10004877 - -
Year 1 3454199 -6550678 3454199 0.9434 3258678
Year 2 3973813 -2576865 7428012 0.89 3536679
Year 3 3957421 1380556 11385433 0.8396 3322727
Year 4 3236681 4617237 14622114 0.7921 2563755
TOTAL 14622114 12681839

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2676962

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. Pillsbury Reengineering 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 Pillsbury Reengineering 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 Pillsbury: Customer Driven Reengineering

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 Pillsbury Reengineering 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 Pillsbury Reengineering 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 (10004877) -10004877 - -
Year 1 3454199 -6550678 3454199 0.8696 3003651
Year 2 3973813 -2576865 7428012 0.7561 3004774
Year 3 3957421 1380556 11385433 0.6575 2602069
Year 4 3236681 4617237 14622114 0.5718 1850583
TOTAL 10461076

The Net NPV after 4 years is 456199

(10461076 - 10004877 )

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 (10004877) -10004877 - -
Year 1 3454199 -6550678 3454199 0.8333 2878499
Year 2 3973813 -2576865 7428012 0.6944 2759592
Year 3 3957421 1380556 11385433 0.5787 2290174
Year 4 3236681 4617237 14622114 0.4823 1560899
TOTAL 9489165

The Net NPV after 4 years is -515712

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9489165 - 10004877 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Pillsbury Reengineering 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 Pillsbury Reengineering has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Pillsbury Reengineering 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 Pillsbury Reengineering, then the stock price of the Pillsbury Reengineering 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 Pillsbury Reengineering 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 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.

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

Robert S. Kaplan (2018), "Pillsbury: Customer Driven Reengineering Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.