What is DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW? What does DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW mean? DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW meaning - DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW definition - DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
In finance, discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis is a method of valuing a project, company, or asset using the concepts of the time value of money. All future cash flows are estimated and discounted by using cost of capital to give their present values (PVs). The sum of all future cash flows, both incoming and outgoing, is the net present value (NPV), which is taken as the value or price of the cash flows in question.
Using DCF analysis to compute the NPV takes as input cash flows and a discount rate and gives as output a present value; the opposite process—takes cash flows and a price (present value) as inputs, and provides as output the discount rate—this is used in bond markets to obtain the yield.
Discounted cash flow analysis is widely used in investment finance, real estate development, corporate financial management and patent valuation. It was used in industry as early as the 1700s or 1800s, widely discussed in financial economics in the 1960s, and became widely used in U.S. Courts in the 1980s and 1990s.
The most widely used method of discounting is exponential discounting, which values future cash flows as "how much money would have to be invested currently, at a given rate of return, to yield the cash flow in future." Other methods of discounting, such as hyperbolic discounting, are studied in academia and said to reflect intuitive decision-making, but are not generally used in industry.
The discount rate used is generally the appropriate weighted average cost of capital (WACC), that reflects the risk of the cashflows. This WACC can be found using Perry's calculation model which was developed in 1996. The discount rate reflects two things:
1. Time value of money (risk-free rate) – according to the theory of time preference, investors would rather have cash immediately than having to wait and must therefore be compensated by paying for the delay
2. Risk premium – reflects the extra return investors demand because they want to be compensated for the risk that the cash flow might not materialize after all
Discounted cash flow calculations have been used in some form since money was first lent at interest in ancient times. Studies of ancient Egyptian and Babylonian mathematics suggest that they used techniques similar to discounting of the future cash flows. This method of asset valuation differentiated between the accounting book value, which is based on the amount paid for the asset. Following the stock market crash of 1929, discounted cash flow analysis gained popularity as a valuation method for stocks. Irving Fisher in his 1930 book The Theory of Interest and John Burr Williams's 1938 text The Theory of Investment Value first formally expressed the DCF method in modern economic terms.
To show how discounted cash flow analysis is performed, consider the following simplified example.
John Doe buys a house for $100,000. Three years later, he expects to be able to sell this house for $150,000.
Simple subtraction suggests that the value of his profit on such a transaction would be $150,000 - $100,000 = $50,000, or 50%. If that $50,000 is amortized over the three years, his implied annual return (known as the internal rate of return) would be about 14.5%. Looking at those figures, he might be justified in thinking that the purchase looked like a good idea.
1.1453 x 100000 = 150000 approximately.
However, since three years have passed between the purchase and the sale, any cash flow from the sale must be discounted accordingly. At the time John Doe buys the house, the 3-year US Treasury Note rate is 5% per annum. Treasury Notes are generally considered to be inherently less risky than real estate, since the value of the Note is guaranteed by the US Government and there is a liquid market for the purchase and sale of T-Notes. If he hadn't put his money into buying the house, he could have invested it in the relatively safe T-Notes instead. This 5% per annum can therefore be regarded as the risk-free interest rate for the relevant period (3 years).