If npv and irr conflict

Difference between NPV and IRR

The cash value or also known as the "Net Present Value" method, calculates the present value of the cash flow of an investment project using the cost of capital as the discount rate. On the other hand is that IRR, that is, the internal rate of return, an interest rate that balances the present value of future cash flows with the initial capital outflow.

In the lifespan of every company there is a dilemma in which it has to choose between different projects. NPV and IRR are the two most common parameters that companies use to decide which investment proposal is best. However, in a given project, both criteria lead to conflicting results, i.e. one project is acceptable if we consider the NPV method, but at the same time the IRR method prefers another project.

The reasons for the conflict between the two lie in the different inflows, outflows and the duration of the project. Read through this article to understand the differences between NPV and IRR.

Comparison table

Basis of comparisonNPVIRR
importanceThe sum of all the present values โ€‹โ€‹(both positive and negative) of a project's cash flows is called the net present value or NPV.IRR is the interest rate at which the sum of the discounted cash inflows corresponds to the discounted cash outflows.
ExpressedAbsolute termsPercentages
What it representsSurplus from the projectPoint without profit no loss (break even point)
to make decisionsIt makes decision making easy.It doesn't help with decision making
Interest rate for the reinvestment of interim cash flowsCost of capitalInternal rate of return
Variation of the time of cash outflowDoes not affect the present valueIndicates negative or multiple IRR

Definition of present value

If the present value of all future cash flows generated from a project is added together (regardless of whether they are positive or negative), the result will be the net present value or the present value. The concept is very important in finance and investing to make important decisions about generating cash flows over several years. The net present value represents the wealth maximization of the shareholders, which is the main purpose of financial management.

The net present value shows the actual benefit that was achieved in addition to the time and risk from the investment in the respective project. The rule of thumb here is to accept the project with positive net present value and reject the project with negative net present value. However, when the net present value is zero, it is a situation of indifference, that is, the total cost and profits of both options are the same. The calculation of the net present value can be done in the following ways:

Present value = Discounted Cash Flows - Discounted Cash Outflows

Definition of IRR

The IRR for a project is the discount rate at which the present value of the expected net cash inflows corresponds to the cash payments. Put simply, discounted cash inflows correspond to discounted cash outflows. This can be done with the following relation (Deposits / withdrawals) = 1 to be declared.

For IRR, the NPV = 0 and the PI (Profitability Index) = 1

With this method, the cash inflows and outflows are indicated. The discount rate, ie the IRR, is calculated using the trial and error method.

The decision rule with regard to the IRR criterion is: Accept the project where the IRR is greater than the required rate of return (cut-off rate), as in this case the project will have the surplus beyond the cut-off rate achieve will be obtained. Reject the project where the cut-off rate is greater than the IRR as the project is causing losses. Also, when the IRR and cut-off rate are the same, it is a point of indifference for the company. It is therefore at the company's discretion whether to accept or reject the investment proposal.

Main differences between NPV and IRR

The basic differences between NPV and IRR are shown below:

  1. The sum of all the present values โ€‹โ€‹of an asset's cash flows that are not materially positive or negative is called the net present value. Internal interest rate is the discount rate at which the net present value = 0.
  2. The calculation of the net present value is done in absolute numbers compared to the IRR, which is calculated in percent.
  3. The purpose of calculating the net present value is to find the excess from the project, while the IRR represents the state of no profit and loss.
  4. Decision making is easy in NPV, but not in IRR. An example can explain this. If the net present value is positive, the project is recommended. IRR = 15%, cost of capital <15%, however the project can be accepted, but if the cost of capital is 19%, which is over 15%, the project will be rejected.
  5. Intermediate cash flows are reinvested in net present value at the cut-off rate, while in the IRR such an investment is made at the IRR rate.
  6. If the timing of the cash flows is different, the IRR will be negative or multiple IRRs will be displayed, creating confusion. This does not apply to the net present value.
  7. If the initial investment is high, the net present value will always have high inflows, while the IRR represents the profitability of the project regardless of the initial investment. So the IRR shows better results.


  • Both use the discounted cash flow method.
  • Both take into account the cash flow during the entire project duration.
  • Both recognize the time value of money.


The present value and the internal rate of return are both methods of discounted cash flows. In this way we can say that both take into account the time value of money. Similarly, the two methods take into account all cash flows during the project lifetime.

The calculation of the net present value assumes that the discount rate is known and that it remains constant. In calculating the IRR, the NPV set to "0" and the rate that meets such a condition is referred to as the IRR.