# How to compute the present value of an asset?

In this article, William LONGIN (EDHEC Business School, Global BBA, 2020-2024) elaborates on the concept of *Present Value*.

## What is present value?

The present value (PV) of an asset is usually computed as the value of the stream of its future cash flows discounted at a given rate of return. In the calculation of the present value of an asset, there are two inputs: the expected future cash flows generated by the asset and the discount rate which takes into account the risk on the future cash flows.

The discounting operation takes into account that an amount of money today is worth more than the same amount tomorrow. €100 lent or invested today at an interest rate of 10% is equal to €110 in one year. If you are to receive €100 in one year, you can borrow €90.90 to get this money today. In one year, you will repay the amount borrowed €90.90 and the interests €9.10 with the €100 that you are supposed to receive. This refers to the concept of time value of money. “Remember that time is money” – Benjamin Franklin (1748).

## How is present value computed?

The formula for the present value of a cash flow occurring at time t, denoted by CF_{t}, discounted with the discount rate r, is given by:

The above formula can be used to illustrate the time value of money. What is the present value of €100 obtained in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years? The table below gives the present value by discounting of €100 obtained in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years with a discount of 10%. Present value shows that money received in the future is not worth as much as an equal amount received today.

This formula can be generalized for a series of cash flows, CF_{t}, from t=1 to t=T:

## Application 1: Computation of the present value of a stock

The concept of present value can be applied to a stock.

For a stock, the sequence of cash flows corresponds to the dividends paid at the end of each period t (coupon DIV_{t}) and the price P_{T} at which the stock is supposed to be sold. The present value (PV) is equal to the discounted value of the sequence of cash flows at the discount rate r.

Steps to compute the present value of a stock

- Step 1: Estimate the expected value of future dividends
- Step 2: Estimate the discount rate given the risk characteristics of the stock
- Step 3: Compute the present value

## Application 2: Computation of the present value of a fixed-rate bond

The concept of present value can be applied to a bond. For a fixed-rate bond, the sequence of cash flows corresponds to the interest paid at the end of each period t (coupon C_{t}) and the principal value (V) reimbursed at maturity T. The present value (PV) is equal to the discounted value of the sequence of cash flows at the discount rate r.

Let us take the example of the valuation of a bond with a nominal value of €1,000, a nominal interest rate of 10%, payment of interests on a yearly basis, and maturing in 5 years. The annual interests are computed as follows: 0.10*1,000 = €100. The last payment corresponds to the interests of the last year (€100) and the reimbursement of the initial capital (€1,000). The series of cash flows is then given by +100, +100, +100, +100, +1,100. Using a discount rate of 10%, the present value of this bond is equal €1,000.

Steps to compute the present value of a bond

- Step 1: Find the characteristics of a bond
- Step 2: Compute the cash flows associated to the bond
- Step 3: Compute the present value

Link to download excel file:

## How to properly compute cash flows?

The future cash flows may be certain or uncertain. When the future cash flows are uncertain, the expected value of the future cash flows, computed as the average of the possible values weighted by their probability, enters the formula for the present value.

## Who is using present value?

In financial markets, it is used by traders and investors to estimate the value of financial securities like stocks and bonds.

In the asset management industry, it is also used by asset managers in investment firms (like private equity) to value firms to buy or sell.

In the corporate world, it is used by project managers to estimate the value of future investments.

In the accounting context, it is used by accountants to compute the model value of some elements of the balance sheet according to the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

So, we can see that the concept of present value is useful to a large range of professionals needing to calculate and estimate the value of assets.

## Related posts

NPV

Valuation of fixed-rate bonds

Valuation of stocks

## About the author

Article written by William Longin (EDHEC Business School, Global BBA, 2020-2024).