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Internal Rate of Return IRR: Definition, Examples and Formula

August 2, 2024
Bill Kimball

Finally, IRR is a calculation used for an investment’s money-weighted rate of return (MWRR). The MWRR helps determine the rate of return needed to start with the initial investment amount factoring in all of the changes to cash flows during the investment period, including sales proceeds. In order to calculate the multiple-of-money (MoM), or multiple on invested capital (MOIC), we’ll calculate the sum of all the positive cash inflows from each holding period. As such, the real estate investment (Scenario 1) demonstrates a significantly higher XIRR than the business venture (Scenario 2).

The Formula for Calculating the Internal Rate of Return

To do so, one must first determine the value of the initial investment in a project and the yield of that investment over time. ROI is the percentage increase or decrease of an investment from beginning to end. It is calculated by taking the difference between the current or expected future value and the original beginning value, divided by the original value, and multiplied by 100. Most IRR analyses will be done in conjunction with a view of a company’s weighted average cost of capital (WACC) and NPV calculations. Therefore, the private equity firm (PE) retrieved \$2.50 per \$1.00 equity investment. To reiterate from earlier, the initial cash outflow (i.e. sponsor’s equity contribution at purchase) must be entered as a negative number since the investment is an “outflow” of cash.

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Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts. The \$25mm assumption here is to illustrate the idea that the value of the business grows each year (probably due to growth in EBITDA), so if you sell it in a later year, you will sell for a higher price. In the final section of our IRR calculation tutorial in Excel, we’ll compute the IRR for each exit year period using the XIRR Excel function. Regardless, the internal rate of return (IRR) and MoM are both different pieces of the same puzzle, and each comes with its respective shortcomings.

Which of these is most important for your financial advisor to have?

Functionally, the IRR is used by investors and businesses to find out if an investment is a good use of their money. An economist might say that it helps identify investment opportunity costs. A financial statistician would say that it links the present value of money and the future value of money for a given investment. Another very important point about the internal rate of return is that it assumes all positive cash flows of a project will be reinvested at the same rate as the project, instead of the company’s cost of capital.

The two numbers normally would be the same over the course of one year but won’t be the same for longer periods. The Excel XIRR function is preferable over the IRR function as it has more flexibility by not being restricted to annual periods. Under XIRR, daily compounding is assumed, and the effective annual rate is returned. But for the IRR function, the interest rate is returned assuming a stream of equally spaced cash flows. The IRR results in Excel or Google Sheets represent the annual rate of return for a project or investment. If the IRR is greater than the required rate of return (or the cost of capital), the project is considered profitable.

Step 1: Enter Cash Flows and Dates

This means the net present value of all these cash flows (including the negative outflow) is zero and that only the 10% rate of return is earned. Once the internal rate of return is determined, it is typically compared to a company’s hurdle rate or cost of capital. If the IRR is greater than or equal to the cost of capital, the company would accept the project as a good investment.

These calculations are usually also studied in conjunction with a company’s WACC and an RRR, which provides for further consideration. Any project with an IRR that exceeds the RRR will likely be deemed profitable, although companies will not necessarily pursue a project on this basis alone. Rather, they will likely pursue projects with the highest difference between IRR and RRR, as these will likely be the most profitable.

The IRR is the discount rate that can bring an investment’s NPV to zero. When the IRR has only one value, this criterion becomes more attractive when comparing the profitability of different investments. It’s important to note that certain assumptions can cause the IRR to become overstated.

In theory, any project with an IRR greater than its cost of capital should be profitable. In planning investment projects, firms will often establish a required rate of return (RRR) to determine the minimum acceptable return percentage that the investment in question must earn to be worthwhile. If an investor paid \$463,846 (which is the negative cash flow shown in cell C178) for a series of positive cash flows as shown in cells D178 to J178, the IRR they would receive is 10%.

The first step is to make guesses at the possible values for R1 and R2 to determine the net present values. Most experienced financial analysts have a feel for what the guesses should be. Using IRR exclusively can lead you to make poor investment decisions, especially if comparing two projects with different durations.

1. After subtracting the initial investment, the net present value of the project is \$545.09, suggesting this is a good investment at the current discount rate.
2. In capital planning, one popular scenario for IRR is comparing the profitability of establishing new operations with that of expanding existing operations.
3. Let’s say that a hairdresser wants to include perm maintenance in her hair salon.
4. The internal rate of return (IRR) is a metric used to estimate the return on an investment.
5. IRR is uniform for investments of varying types and, as such, can be used to rank multiple prospective investments or projects on a relatively even basis.
6. In the case of positive cash flows followed by negative ones and then by positive ones, the IRR may have multiple values.

After five years, the machine will be too old to use, so she will sell it for \$1,000. The entire equation is set up with the knowledge that at the IRR, NPV is equal to zero. Pete Rathburn is a copy editor and fact-checker with expertise in economics and personal finance and over twenty years of experience in the classroom. Charlene Rhinehart is a CPA , CFE, chair of an Illinois CPA Society committee, and has a degree in accounting and finance from DePaul University.

A smart financial analyst will alternatively use the modified internal rate of return (MIRR) to arrive at a more accurate measure. If the investors paid less than \$463,846 for all the same additional cash flows, then their IRR would be higher than 10%. Conversely, if they paid more than \$463,846, then their IRR would be lower than 10%. Meanwhile, another similar investment option can generate a 10% return. The goal is to make sure the company is making the best use of its cash. When comparing investments, never make the comparison using internal rates of return calculated with different calculators.

Finance Strategists has an advertising relationship with some of the companies included on this website. We may earn a commission when you click on a link or make a purchase through the links on our site. All of our content is based on objective analysis, and the opinions are our own. The IRR equation allows an easy way for investors to see whether the discount rate and yield on an investment is worth pursuing without calculating the full NPV. The IRR equation allows an easy way for investors to see whether the discount rate and yield on an investment are worth pursuing without calculating the full NPV.

You can use the results for bragging rights, or more importantly, to compare two or more different investment options. Someone on our team will connect you with a financial professional in our network holding the correct designation and expertise. At Finance Strategists, we partner with financial experts to ensure the accuracy of our financial content. The articles and research support materials available on this site are educational and are not intended to be investment or tax advice. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.