Calculating the NPV is a way investors determine how attractive a potential investment is. Since it essentially determines the present value of the gain or loss of an investment, it is easy to understand and is a great decision making tool.
When NPV is positive, the investment is worthwhile; On the other hand, when it is negative, it should not be undertaken; and when it is 0, there is no difference in the present values of the cash outflows and inflows. In theory, an investor should undertake positive NPV investments, and never undertake negative NPV investments (Figure 1). Thus, NPV makes the decision making process relatively straight forward.
Another advantage of the NPV method is that it allows for easy comparisons of potential investments. As long as the NPV of all options are taken at the same point in time, the investor can compare the magnitude of each option. When presented with the NPVs of multiple options, the investor will simply choose the option with the highest NPV because it will provide the most additional value for the firm. However, if none of the options has a positive NPV, the investor will not choose any of them; none of the investments will add value to the firm, so the firm is better off not investing.
Furthermore, NPV is customizable so that it accurately reflects the financial concerns and demands of the firm. For example, the discount rate can be adjusted to reflect things such as risk, opportunity cost, and changing yield curve premiums on long-term debt.