NPV vs ROI: Difference and Comparison

Financial metrics are used to calculate and see the result of the investments or the cash flow for different types of institutions. Some of them are more commonly used than others. The choice depends on what the owner wants to get information on.

Both NPV and ROI are terms that are very common and useful in the business and finance world. If one is starting a new company or enterprise, one should be able to distinguish between various terms used in calculating the business results.

Key Takeaways

  1. NPV, or net present value, is a financial calculation used to determine the current value of an investment based on expected future cash flows.
  2. ROI, or return on investment, is a measure of the profitability of an investment, calculated as a percentage of the initial investment.
  3. While NPV considers the time value of money and provides a dollar value for an investment, ROI is a simpler calculation that can compare the profitability of different investments.


Net Present Value, or just NPV, is a financial metric used to evaluate investment projects. NPV measures the present value of expected future cash flows. Return on Investment, or ROI, is a percentage that measures the profitability of an investment by dividing the net profit by the investment cost.


NPV provides the net present value of the current cash flow of a business. The resulting amount might either come in a positive amount or in a negative one.

If the total comes off as negative or unfavourable, then it means a low return. During the calculation, investments are discounted according to the present day.

ROI is a financial measure used to measure the amount of profitability on the amount of invested cash flow. After the calculation, one can differentiate between profitable and unprofitable investments.

There are a few ways on how the metric can be calculated, and it depends on the requirement of the company.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonNPVROI
ExtensionNet Present ValueReturn On Investment
DefinitionNPV is a metric that examines the cash inflows and cash outflows of a business.ROI is a financial measure that gives the ratio of net income and investment.
FormulaNPV= Cash flow / (1 + i)t – initial investmentROI= (Total benefits – total costs) / total costs
Another nameNet present worth (NPW)Return on invested capital
AdvantagesHelp in the planning of the business decision, regards to the time value of money, etc. Indicates the position of investments as well as helps in the comparison of different investments, etc.
DisadvantagesThe amount may not be totally accurate as it doesn’t add the hidden cost, etc.The result is of a return cannot be done for a shorter amount of time period, etc.

What is NPV?

NPV means Net Present Value. It is a financial measure used to calculate the difference between cash inflows and the cash outflows that are presently invested in the business. It basically tells how profitable a project or an investment is.

It helps the management or the owners to see which investments are fruitful and which are not. The result can come off in three situations first, where the NPV is positive.

Then, a negative NPV and, lastly, a zero NPV. Mostly, the first two are the common results. Zero NPV means that there is equality between the asset and its worth.

A positive NPV means that the investments are beneficial for the government. It is very common in the process of capital budgeting and is done after a certain period of time. The tool is not as complicated as others used for profitability calculation.


What is ROI?

ROI is a performance measure that is used to see the return on the investment(s) made on the business. Its full form is Return on Investment. The ending result comes in a ratio and percentage that differentiates it from other measures.

It is easier than other calculating metrics and, thus, is one of the most common measures to be used by people. There are many ways to calculate ROI. One way would be: Current Value of investment – Cost of investment) / Cost Of investment.

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The end result can come off as high or low. A high ROI is favourable for the business, whereas a low ROI is not considered good. There are a few disadvantages of the metric, though. For example: Sometimes, the outcome cannot be accurate for long-term investments.


Main Differences Between NPV and ROI

  1. They have different meanings. NPV is the amount of the present value of any type of investment in a financial institution, while ROI calculates the return on the capital that is invested.
  2. The result of NPV comes in an absolute number. On the flip side, ROI is a percentage.
  3. Both of the metrics are used to determine different estimations. NPV is used to get the present value of the assets, basically to judge if they are viable or not. ROI, on the other hand, is calculated so that one can measure and compare different investments of the company.
  4. Since NPV is based on the assumptions made for the future, it can affect the result of the end amount in error. In contrast, there are fewer errors in the calculation of ROI since it doesn’t depend on estimations of the future.
  5. During the calculation of NVP, the risk is factored in. On the other hand, there is no risk factor involved in ROI. It comes in use after a certain time period if the user wants to use it, otherwise not.
  6. NVP is time-adjusted, while in comparison, ROI is not.
Difference Between NPV and ROI

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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23 thoughts on “NPV vs ROI: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article provides a comprehensive overview of NPV and ROI, highlighting their significance in evaluating investment projects. Both metrics offer critical insights that are invaluable for businesses seeking to make informed investment decisions.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Kgriffiths. NPV and ROI are essential for assessing the financial feasibility of investments and determining their potential returns.

  2. NPV and ROI serve different purposes, providing businesses with valuable financial insights. NPV helps in evaluating the profitability of an investment based on current cash flows, while ROI measures the returns relative to the initial investment.

    • Well said, Oscar. These metrics play a critical role in guiding investment decisions and assessing the financial performance of projects or ventures.

  3. NPV and ROI are indispensable tools for assessing the financial merits of investments. Understanding the nuances of these metrics is essential for businesses to make informed and strategic financial decisions.

    • Absolutely, Taylor. Having a thorough understanding of NPV and ROI empowers businesses to evaluate investment opportunities effectively and make sound financial decisions.

    • Spot on, Taylor. NPV and ROI are fundamental in guiding capital allocation and investment choices, enabling businesses to optimize their financial resources.

  4. NPV and ROI are crucial financial metrics used to measure investment profitability. NPV is useful in capital budgeting and helps identify profitable investments, while ROI is a straightforward measure of investment returns.

    • This is a great point, Lewis. It’s essential to understand the differences between NPV and ROI, as they provide a clear picture of the financial health of a business.

  5. NPV and ROI offer distinct perspectives on investment profitability. NPV reflects the net present value of cash flows, while ROI quantifies the return on investment as a percentage. Understanding these differences is essential for informed decision-making.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Finley. These metrics are fundamental for gauging the financial viability of investments and projects.

    • You’re absolutely right, Finley. Both NPV and ROI provide valuable insights that can guide businesses in making optimal investment decisions.

  6. NPV and ROI are indispensable financial metrics that aid businesses in evaluating the profitability and financial viability of investments. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of these metrics is crucial for informed decision-making.

    • Well articulated, Selina. NPV and ROI are pivotal in guiding businesses in making sound investment decisions and optimizing their financial resources effectively.

  7. NPV and ROI are both essential tools for evaluating investment projects. NPV takes into account the time value of money and considers the present value of future cash flows, while ROI measures profitability as a percentage.

    • Absolutely, Zoe. Both metrics offer valuable insights into investment decisions, allowing businesses to make informed choices when it comes to allocating resources.

  8. The comparison table provides a clear breakdown of the differences between NPV and ROI. Understanding these parameters is crucial for businesses to make sound financial decisions based on accurate calculations.

    • I agree, Natalie. Having a comprehensive understanding of these metrics can help businesses weigh the advantages and disadvantages of potential investments more effectively.

  9. The article provides a comprehensive comparison of NPV and ROI, offering valuable insights into their respective roles in evaluating investment projects. Understanding the differences between these financial metrics is crucial for informed and strategic investment decisions.

    • Well said, Harris. NPV and ROI are indispensable in guiding businesses to assess investment opportunities effectively and make informed financial decisions.

  10. A clear understanding of NPV and ROI is essential for businesses to make well-informed investment decisions. These metrics provide valuable insights into the profitability and financial performance of investments, enabling businesses to optimize their resource allocation.

    • Spot on, Kelly. NPV and ROI play a pivotal role in evaluating investment opportunities and guiding businesses towards making prudent financial decisions.

    • Absolutely, Kelly. NPV and ROI are integral to strategic financial decision-making, allowing businesses to gauge the value and returns of potential investments effectively.


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