An Investment Criterion Incorporating Real Options
Communications and Strategies, No. 70, 2008
22 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2009
Date Written: March 6, 2009
Investment in infrastructure such as the information and communication technology sector requires large, substantial amounts, most of which are sunk or irreversible. Uncertainty of market demand, competition, costs and public policy complicates the investment decision process. This paper provides an investment decision-making criterion under uncertainty using (deferred) real options methodology to evaluate if an investment should be made immediately, cautiously, deferred (wait-and-watch), or foregone. A decision-making index d is developed, which is equal to the expectation of net present value (NPV) normalized by its standard deviation. Under a lognormal assumption of the distribution of NPV discounted by risk-free rate, we find the "break-even point" at which the NPV equals the real option value (ROV): d = D* = 0.276. Using the absolute value of D*, one can make sophisticated decisions considering opportunity losses. This new decision index, d, provides a criterion to make investment decisions to capture underlying uncertainty. When making a decision, a manager only has to observe three parameters: expectation of future cash flow, its uncertainty as measured by its standard deviation, and the magnitude of investment. We discuss examples using this criterion and show its value. The criterion is particularly useful when NPV lies near zero or uncertainty is large.
Keywords: Real Options, Decision, Investment, Economic Methodology; Statistical Decision Theory, Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty.
JEL Classification: B41,C1,D81,E22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation