Frequently used as an alternative to net present value. It is much simpler than NPV, mainly gauging the time required after an investment to recoup the initial costs of that investment. However, the payback period does not account for the time value of money.
For this reason, payback periods calculated for longer investments have a greater potential for inaccuracy, as they encompass more time during which inflation may occur and skew projected earnings and, thus, the real payback period as well.
Moreover, the payback period is strictly limited to the amount of time required to earn back initial investment costs. As such, it also fails to account for the profitability of an investment after that investment has reached the end of its payback period. It is possible that the investment’s rate of return could subsequently experience a sharp drop, a sharp increase or anything in between. Comparisons of investments’ payback periods, then, will not necessarily yield an accurate portrayal of the profitability of those investments.