Initial Cash Flow


DEFINITION of 'Initial Cash Flow'

The amount of money paid out or received at the start of a project or investment. This is generally a negative amount because projects often require a large initial capital investment by a company that will generate positive cash flow over time.

BREAKING DOWN 'Initial Cash Flow'

During the capital budgeting process, the attractiveness of a project is evaluated based on the cash flows generated by the project over its life. Using discounted cash flow analysis, the project's future value of the cash flows over its life are brought back to the present value to determine whether it is worthwhile for the company to pursue the project. Because the initial outlay is made at the start of the project (time zero), it isn't discounted.

For example, an oil company evaluating the attractiveness of a new refinery may budget for an initial outlay of $100 million to get the project started. This is then evaluated along with the future cash flows the project will generate over its life.

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  1. Do you discount working capital in net present value (NPV)?

    Net present value (NPV) calculations should include the discounted value of changes in working capital. This treatment of ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How is working capital different from fixed capital?

    There are several key differences between working capital and fixed capital. Most importantly, these two forms of capital ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How much working capital does a small business need?

    The amount of working capital a small business needs to run smoothly depends largely on the type of business, its operating ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What does high working capital say about a company's financial prospects?

    If a company has high working capital, it has more than enough liquid funds to meet its short-term obligations. Working capital, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can working capital affect a company's finances?

    Working capital, or total current assets minus total current liabilities, can affect a company's longer-term investment effectiveness ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What can working capital be used for?

    Working capital is used to cover all of a company's short-term expenses, including inventory, payments on short-term debt ... Read Full Answer >>

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