The Difference Between IRR and NPV

This article answers two questions:

1 – What is important difference between IRR and NPV?

2 – Based on these differences and other considerations, which method is more popular and which method is theoretically superior?

What is important difference between IRR and NPV?

Net Present Value method assumes that cash inflows are reinvested at cost of capital, which is more realistic than assumption made in Internal Rate of Return method (IRR) that cash inflows are reinvested at IRR.

Based on these differences other considerations, which method is more popular and which method is theoretically superior?

Theoretically, it is advisable to use the Net Present Value method because it assumes that cash inflows are reinvested at cost of capital. However, in real life, the Internal Rate of Return method is more common because it considers the rate of return instead of dollar amount considered in the Net Present Value method and the former seems to be more intuitive to users of techniques. There are, however, ways to deal with shortcomings of Internal Rate of Return method and therefore IRR is still considered a sophisticated and reliable technique.

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