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Glossary

Present Value

Present value refers to the current worth of a future sum of money, discounted to reflect its current value based on a specific rate of return or interest over time.

Understanding the concept of present value

The concept of present value (PV) refers to the aggregate value of cash flows within a given stream, taking into account the value of each individual cash flow. It essentially represents the current value of future cash flows, factoring in the time value of money. The calculation of present value considers the notion that money available today holds more worth than an equivalent amount of money in the future, as current money can be invested and accumulate interest, while future money cannot. Moreover, it considers the risk associated with the cash flow stream, valuing a more certain cash flow higher than one with greater uncertainty.

Calculating present value: A practical guide

To compute the present value of a cash flow stream, it involves summing up the present values of each cash flow within the stream. This necessitates knowledge of both the discount rate and the duration over which the cash flows extend. The discount rate represents the return required on an investment to break even, mirroring returns from a risk-free security. Meanwhile, the duration signifies the timeframe—years, months, or days—over which the cash flows are distributed.

The significance of knowing your present value

Understanding the present value of a future cash flow is pivotal as it enables comparisons of its value at different points in time. For instance, when contemplating an investment in a project generating future cash flows, knowing its present value aids in assessing its worth against the investment cost. Furthermore, understanding the present value facilitates the calculation of a project's return on investment, a critical metric in evaluating the project's profitability.

Distinguishing present value from future value

Present value and future value differ in their approach towards cash flows. Present value discounts future cash flows to their current value, whereas future value discounts current cash flows to their future value. This distinction is rooted in the time value of money, emphasizing the higher worth of current money due to its potential for investment and interest accrual.

Illustrating present value with an example

Consider the scenario where someone offers $10,000 today or $11,000 a year from now. The present value of $11,000 a year in the future is $10,000 today, as it accounts for the discount due to the time gap between the two cash offers.