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Average Internal Rate of Return and investment decisions: A new perspective


  • Carlo Alberto Magni



The internal rate of return (IRR) is often used by managers and practitioners for investment decisions. Unfortunately, it has serious flaws: (i) multiple real-valued IRRs may arise, (ii) complex-valued IRRs may arise, (iii) the IRR is, in general, incompatible with the net present value (NPV) in accept/reject decisions (iv) the IRR ranking is, in general, different from the NPV ranking, (v) the IRR criterion is not applicable with variable costs of capital. The efforts of economists and management scientists in providing a reliable project rate of return have generated over the decades an immense bulk of contributions aiming to solve these shortcomings. This paper offers a complete solution to this long-standing issue by changing the usual perspective: the IRR equation is dismissed and the evaluator is allowed to describe the project as an investment or a borrowing at his discretion. This permits to show that any arithmetic mean of the one-period return rates implicit in a project reliably informs about a project’s profitability and correctly ranks competing projects. With such a measure, which we name ”Average Internal Rate of Return”, complex-valued numbers disappear and all the above mentioned problems are wiped out. The economic meaning is compelling: it is the project return rate implicitly determined by the market. The traditional IRR notion may be found back as a particular case.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlo Alberto Magni, 2010. "Average Internal Rate of Return and investment decisions: A new perspective," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 10021, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
  • Handle: RePEc:mod:wcefin:10021

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brooks, C. & Clare, A.D. & Dalle Molle, J.W. & Persand, G., 2005. "A comparison of extreme value theory approaches for determining value at risk," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 339-352, March.
    2. Keith Kuester & Stefan Mittnik & Marc S. Paolella, 2006. "Value-at-Risk Prediction: A Comparison of Alternative Strategies," Journal of Financial Econometrics, Society for Financial Econometrics, vol. 4(1), pages 53-89.
    3. Manfred Gilli & Evis këllezi, 2006. "An Application of Extreme Value Theory for Measuring Financial Risk," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 27(2), pages 207-228, May.
    4. R. Cont, 2001. "Empirical properties of asset returns: stylized facts and statistical issues," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 223-236.
    5. Philippe Artzner & Freddy Delbaen & Jean-Marc Eber & David Heath, 1999. "Coherent Measures of Risk," Mathematical Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 203-228.
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    More about this item


    Decision analysis; investment criteria; capital budgeting; internal rate of return; investment stream; market rate; mean;

    JEL classification:

    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects

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