The Hurdle Rate

The hurdle rate is also called minimum acceptable rate of return (abbreviated MARR) or break-even yield. It refers to the minimum rate of return that is required before any project can be undertaken. The hurdle rate is used in the capital budgeting and is the same as the required rate of return in the discounted cash flow analysis of long-term investment opportunities. It is a discount rate used when different investment alternatives are considered.

If the expected return on the proposed investment is below the hurdle rate, than the investment is not acceptable and vice versa. Sometimes the hurdle rate also refers to the minimum internal rate of return (IRR) for the project to be undertaken.

The hurdle rate should be equal to the marginal cost of capital, which is also referred to as the incremental cost of capital. The hurdle rate is also a rate of return which is necessary to maintain market value of the firm. The market value of the firm refers to the firm’s current market price of shares.

Organizations use hurdle rates to evaluate long-term investment projects using discounted cash flow techniques (capital budgeting). This allows assessing potential projects more systematically. Such evaluation allows having better confidence that selected long-term investments will at least have returns equal to the marginal cost of capital.

Hurdle rates should be set for each project or at least for each business unit or division to account for differences in risk profiles across the enterprise.

 

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