Calculating an Internal Rate of Return

An Internal Rate of Return refers to the discount rate that would ensure the “Net Present Value” of an investment’s cash flow equal to zero.

Investors would want to first determine the potential profitability of a venture before establishing any financial connections. Though it is difficult to forecast such potential, there are a few formulas that can be implemented towards such predictions. One of the more popular equations applied in determining the viability of a possible investment is called the Internal Rate of Return (IRR).

The IRR portrays a potential discount rate that would lead to the cash flow of a business’ Net Present Value (NPV) equaling zero. The higher this figure is, the more stable an investment is portrayed, while the lower the numbers involved, the more the risk entailed with a particular venture. Though this solution is not bulletproof, it is an adequate manner of determining the overall viability of a particular project.

Using an Online IRR Calculator

Individuals who would like to estimate potential profitability can use a virtual IRR calculator available on the internet. This saves a person the trouble of having to perform the mentally straining tasks involved with such calculations manually. This solution simply needs the user to fill in a couple of segments according to their specific preferences before churning out the results in a matter of seconds.

The best online calculators are simple to use and feature two primary fields related to the inquirer. These sections include the amount of the initial investment involved and the number of years they would like analyzed. The number of years filled in will depend on how long an individual intends to maintain an interest in that particular investment.

The IRR Formula

Individuals who attempt to tackle this calculation manually will be disappointed to discover that there is no actual analytical solution available and answers can only be derived programmatically. This means that though there is an established IRR formula, it can only be implemented using software solutions such as online calculators. The formula itself is:


In the equation above, ‘C0’ represents the starting investment, ‘r’ represents the discount rate, ‘t’ constitutes of the period the investment will last, while Ct stands for the return enjoyed during the period identified as t. To attain an answer to this problem, an individual will need to state that the NPV stands at 0 and then try and solve for r afterward, which is manually impossible.

Computers solve this issue by conducting a recursive search using the formula until it finally arrives at an answer that ensures the NPV value is as close to 0 as possible. Notably, the NPV is something that is still required with the use of an IRR formula as the said application involves the combination of these two metrics.

The “Net Present Value” represents the valuation of a collection of current and anticipated cash flows from business and is used together with IRR to predict the success of a venture. These predictions are not set in stone as these calculations cannot account for unforeseeable circumstances that could have a negative impact on a business.

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