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Concept# Minimum acceptable rate of return

Summary

In business and for engineering economics in both industrial engineering and civil engineering practice, the minimum acceptable rate of return, often abbreviated MARR, or hurdle rate is the minimum rate of return on a project a manager or company is willing to accept before starting a project, given its risk and the opportunity cost of forgoing other projects. A synonym seen in many contexts is minimum attractive rate of return.
The hurdle rate is frequently used as a synonym of cutoff rate, benchmark and cost of capital. It is used to conduct preliminary analysis of proposed projects and generally increases with increased risk.
The hurdle rate is usually determined by evaluating existing opportunities in operations expansion, rate of return for investments, and other factors deemed relevant by management. As an example, suppose a manager knows that investing in a conservative project, such as a bond investment or another project with no risk, yields a known rate of return. When analyzing a new project, the manager may use the conservative project's rate of return as the MARR. The manager will only implement the new project if its anticipated return exceeds the MARR by at least the risk premium of the new project.
A risk premium can also be attached to the hurdle rate if management feels that specific opportunities inherently contain more risk than others that could be pursued with the same resources. A common method for evaluating a hurdle rate is to apply the discounted cash flow method to the project, which is used in net present value models. The hurdle rate determines how rapidly the value of the dollar decreases out in time, which, parenthetically, is a significant factor in determining the payback period for the capital project when discounting forecast savings and spending back to present-day terms. Most companies use a 12% hurdle rate, which is based on the fact that the S&P 500 typically yields returns somewhere between 8% and 11% (annualized).

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Net present value

The net present value (NPV) or net present worth (NPW) applies to a series of cash flows occurring at different times. The present value of a cash flow depends on the interval of time between now and the cash flow. It also depends on the discount rate. NPV accounts for the time value of money. It provides a method for evaluating and comparing capital projects or financial products with cash flows spread over time, as in loans, investments, payouts from insurance contracts plus many other applications.

Discounted cash flow

The discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis, in finance, is a method used to value a security, project, company, or asset, that incorporates the time value of money. Discounted cash flow analysis is widely used in investment finance, real estate development, corporate financial management, and patent valuation. Used in industry as early as the 1700s or 1800s, it was widely discussed in financial economics in the 1960s, and U.S. courts began employing the concept in the 1980s and 1990s.

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2019The internal rate of return (IRR) is generally considered inferior to the net present value (NPV) as a tool for evaluating and ranking projects, despite its inherently useful comparability to the cost of capital and the return of other investment opportuni ...