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IRR Rule


The IRR Rule is a guideline for deciding whether to proceed with or abandon a particular investment. IRR stands for Internal Rate of Return, and is a measure of the potential profitability of an investment. The rule states that if the internal rate of return on a project or investment is greater than the minimum required return, typically the cost of capital, then the project or investment is considered a good choice, and vice versa.


The phonetics for the keyword “IRR Rule” would be: /aɪ aːr aːr ruːl/

Key Takeaways

IRR, or Internal Rate of Return, is a key concept in financial analysis and decision making. Here are the three main takeaways:

  1. Definition: The IRR is the discount rate that makes the net present value of a project zero. In other words, it’s the rate at which the present value of future cash flows equals the initial investment.
  2. Decision Rule: According to the IRR rule, if the internal rate of return on a project or investment is greater than the minimum required rate of return, typically the cost of capital, the project or investment is considered a good choice, and vice versa.
  3. Limitations: Despite being a commonly used tool, IRR is not without limitations. If not used cautiously, it can lead to incorrect decisions. This is especially true when comparing projects of different size, duration, or timing of cash flows. It also assumes that the cash inflows are reinvested at the IRR, which may not always be the case.


The Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Rule is an important concept in business and finance because it is used to evaluate the attractiveness of a project or investment. The IRR rule states that if the internal rate of return on a project or investment is greater than the minimum required return, typically the cost of capital, the project or investment is considered a good choice, and vice versa. This rule is crucial as it helps businesses make informed decisions about whether to proceed with a particular investment based on its potential return. In essence, the IRR rule serves as a guide to assist in the investment decision-making process, ensuring that firms engage in profitable ventures.


The purpose of the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) rule is to serve as a strategic tool for businesses and investors, enabling them to make informed decisions pertaining to their investments or projects. The IRR rule is essentially used to evaluate the feasibility or potential profitability of an investment. This rule is a capital budgeting technique which stipulates that if the internal rate of return on a project or investment exceeds the minimum required return, typically the cost of capital, then the project or investment should be pursued.In practical application, decision-makers use the IRR rule to compare and rank different projects or investment opportunities. It is generally a measure of the anticipated growth rate that a future investment is likely to generate. This helps investors or corporations to identify which opportunity will yield greater returns, thereby allocating their capital more efficiently. Furthermore, the IRR can also be utilized as a measure of sensitivity, highlighting how changes in the investment’s cash flows impact its profitability.


1. Real Estate Investment: A real estate investor might use the IRR rule to decide between two properties. If Property A has an estimated IRR of 12%, and Property B has an estimated IRR of 10%, the IRR rule would suggest investing in Property A because it offers a higher potential return on investment.2. Corporate Investment: In corporate finance, suppose a company has two potential projects to invest in. Project A has an expected IRR of 15%, while Project B has an IRR of 10%. Using the IRR rule, the company would choose Project A as it promises to deliver higher returns.3. Venture Capital: A venture capital firm may receive pitches from several startups needing funding. If Startup A projects an IRR of 25% over five years, while Startup B projects an IRR of 20%, the firm would likely choose to invest in Startup A, according to the IRR rule.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What does the IRR Rule mean?

The Internal Rate of Return (IRR) Rule is a guideline for evaluating the suitability of an investment or project. If an investment’s IRR exceeds the required return rate, it’s generally considered a good investment. If it’s less, it may be rejected.

How is IRR calculated?

The IRR is calculated by setting the Net Present Value (NPV) equation to zero and solving for the rate (r). However, it can be complicated to solve algebraically, so it is typically computed through trial and error or using financial calculators or software.

Is a higher IRR better?

Yes, a higher IRR is generally better as it means the investment grows at a faster rate. Comparing IRRs can help decide between different investments or projects.

Can IRR be negative?

Yes, IRR can be negative, which typically means that the project’s or investment’s cash flows are less than the initial investment. It implies that the project is likely to lose money and is probably not a good investment.

What is the difference between IRR and ROI (Return on Investment)?

While both IRR and ROI indicate the profitability of an investment, they measure it in different ways. IRR calculates the expected growth rate of an investment while ROI measures the profitability of an investment as a percentage of the original investment.

How does the IRR rule relate to capital budgeting?

In capital budgeting, the IRR rule is used to rank various projects or investments the firm is considering. By this rule, all projects with an IRR above the firm’s cost of capital are accepted.

Does the IRR rule have any limitations?

Yes, there are limitations. IRR rule may not always provide consistent results, particularly in cases of mutually exclusive projects or in situations where the stream of cash flows is unconventional. Moreover, IRR doesn’t consider the actual dollar value returns or the scale of the investment.

Related Finance Terms

  • Net Present Value (NPV): A method used in capital budgeting to estimate the profitability of potential investments.
  • Discounted Cash Flow (DCF): A financial model that estimates the value of an investment based on its expected future cash flows.
  • Internal Rate of Return (IRR): The discount rate that makes the net present value (NPV) of all cash flows equal zero in a financial model.
  • Capital Budgeting: The process of identifying and evaluating potential large-scale investments or expenditures.
  • Investment Decision: The decision by a company or individual to commit resources to a particular course of action with financial outcomes.

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