Rate of Return on Investment

Updated on April 17, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What is the Rate of Return on Investment?

The rate of Return on Investment refers to the rate with which the company generates a return from the investment during a period compared with the cost of the investment made by the company. The rate of return on investment calculator is used by dividing the return on investment during the period by the investment cost.

What is the Rate of Return on Investment

You are free to use this image on your website, templates, etc, Please provide us with an attribution linkHow to Provide Attribution?Article Link to be Hyperlinked
For eg:
Source: Rate of Return on Investment (wallstreetmojo.com)

It is income earned by investing in assets, and it is measured mostly in percentage terms. It can be negative (net loss) or positive (net gain) and measured periodically, quarterly, monthly, or yearly. For entities whose debt or equity stock is listed on recognized stock exchanges, the return on investment is very useful from the investor’s point of view.

Key Takeaways

  • The rate of return on investment measures the percentage of profit a company earns from an investment compared to its cost. This is calculated by dividing the investment’s return during a specific period by the investment cost.
  • The rate of return on investment may not be reliable for periods longer than a year because it doesn’t consider the time value of money.
  • As a useful tool, the rate of return on investment helps in making sound investment decisions, such as choosing between new purchases or replacements, expanding fixed assets, diversifying portfolios, and making mutually exclusive choices.

Rate Of Return On Investment Explained

The rate of return on investment is the percentage in which the company or an individual investor experiences gains or losses for the amount invested within a financial year or any assessment period curated by them or regulatory authorities.

The rate is generally calculated in terms of percentages as it gives a clear picture of the growth of within the period of assessment.

It is a good tool to calculate the overall benefit or return on investment; however, it is not reliable if the investment horizon period is beyond one year as it does not account for the time value of moneyTime Value Of MoneyThe Time Value of Money (TVM) principle states that money received in the present is of higher worth than money received in the future because money received now can be invested and used to generate cash flows to the enterprise in the future in the form of interest or from future investment appreciation and reinvestment.read more. Even a layperson can derive the rate of return on investment and make an informed decision; however, one must consider the time value of money while arriving at the final decision. There are other measures from which correct return on investment can arrive, for example, return on equity (which measures income generated in equity investmentsEquity InvestmentsEquity investment is the amount pooled in by the investors in the shares of the companies listed on the stock exchange for trading. The shareholders make gain from such holdings in the form of returns or increase in stock value.read more), return on investment, return on capital employed (it takes equity and debt into consideration to derive at return), etc.

The Rate of Return on investment is the first and foremost criterion one evaluates before investing decisions. It is just the extra earnings over and above the investment made or the decrease in the investment cost over some time.


Let us understand the formula to calculate both the average rate of return on investment and the overall growth of the assessing entity by first understanding the formula for calculation.

They can be measured in different terms like return on capital employedReturn On Capital EmployedReturn on Capital Employed (ROCE) is a metric that analyses how effectively a company uses its capital and, as a result, indicates long-term profitability. ROCE=EBIT/Capital Employed.read more, return on equityReturn On EquityReturn on Equity (ROE) represents financial performance of a company. It is calculated as the net income divided by the shareholders equity. ROE signifies the efficiency in which the company is using assets to make profit.read more, etc.

However, it can break down into the following main two components:

#1 – Rate of Return on Investment = (Current / Market or Sales Value – Initial Cost / Initial Cost) * 100

(by this formula, the return can be derived in terms of percentage of the cost of investment)


#2 – Return on Investment = Total Investment / Total Cost (by this formula, how many times the current value of the investment is compared to the cost of investment)


Let us understand how to use the rate of return on investment calculator with the help of a few examples.

You can download this Rate of Return on Investment Excel Template here – Rate of Return on Investment Excel Template

Example #1

Let us assume that Mr. X bought Apple Inc. shares at say $170 on 01/01/2019. After a few months, Mr. X wants to sell the shares at the market price of Rs. $180.

Rate of Return on Investment Example 1

Rate of return on investment = $(180-170)X100/ 170 that comes to 5.88% net gain.

Rate of Return on Investment Example 1.1

If the sales price is Rs. 160 then the return will be = 160-170 X 100/ 170 = -5.88% net lossNet LossNet loss or net operating loss refers to the excess of the expenses incurred over the income generated in a given accounting period. It is evaluated as the difference between revenues and expenses and recorded as a liability in the balance sheet.read more.

Example #2

Now assume Mr. Y bought 100 Equity shares of Apple Inc. on 01/01/2019 for $ 170. So total initial cost = $17,000. After three tears, say on 01/01/2021, Mr. Y sold those shares at $ 182.

Example 2

Rate of return on investment calculation for Mr. Y = 182 – 170/170 * 100 = 7.06%

It is clear from the above example that Mr. Y earns more in percentage terms. However, Mr. Y will get this amount after three years, whereas Mr. X can get it within a year, which is more valuable than receiving it after three years. If the Time value of money is considered, the return of Mr. Y will get discounted by a certain factor, and the final answer will be lower than 7.06%.

Sometimes, a decision based on a just rate of return on investment can be futile. One must analyze every parameter before jumping to a conclusion.

Example #3

Mr. A bought a property in 2011 for $ 100,000, and in the year 2019, the said property was sold for $ 200,000.

Example 3

Rate of return on investment in property calculation as = 200,000 – 100,000/100,000 * 100 = 100%

In the Manufacturing business case, Return on Investment = Revenue – Cost of goods sold divided by the cost of goods sold.

Example #4

Mr. B owns a company that is into the manufacturing of steel wherein gross receipts are $100,000, and other income is $ 5,000. So the total revenue is equal to $105,000. The cost of goods soldCOGSThe Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the cumulative total of direct costs incurred for the goods or services sold, including direct expenses like raw material, direct labour cost and other direct costs. However, it excludes all the indirect expenses incurred by the company. read more is $ 55,000. now the Rate of return on investment calculation can be done as follows:

Example 4

= $105,000 – $55,000 / 55,000 * 100 = 90.91%.

Example #5

Investment can be in Securities (Equity, Preferred, Bonds, Debentures, etc.), for example:

Mr. D purchased non-convertible 5% bonds of XYZ incorporation for $ 100. After holding the bonds for two years, Mr. D decided to sell them at $ 150.

Example 5

= ($150 – $100 / 100) * 100 = 50%.


Calculating the average rate of return on investment can reveal a lot about the financial health of the organization or individual and their decision-making in this facet of life. Let us understand the advantages of keeping a close eye on this metric.


Despite the advantages mentioned above, there are factors from the other end of the spectrum that prove to be hassles or hurdles for users. Let us understand the disadvantages of using the rate of return on investment calculator through the brief discussion below.

One main disadvantage or limitation is that formula, as mentioned above, does not account for the time value of money. The return in the above example might be generated after 2 or 3 years. So if a 5.88% net gain is earned within one year it has more value than if earned after 2-3 years. So, the time value factor is completely ignored in the formula.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the nominal rate of return on investment?

The nominal rate of return on an investment is the actual rate of return expressed in percentage terms without adjusting for inflation or other factors. It represents the total gain or loss on an investment over a specific period, considering only the nominal value of the investment at the beginning and end of the period.

2. What is the Average Rate of Return on investments?

The Average Rate of Return on investments measures the average annual return earned on an investment over a specific period. It considers the total return earned during the period and divides it by the number of years to calculate an average annual return. This metric helps investors assess the performance of an investment over time.

3. What factors affect the rate of return on investment?

Several factors influence the rate of return on an investment, including market conditions, economic factors, industry performance, company financial health, and management decisions. Additionally, interest rates, inflation, geopolitical events, and changes in consumer behavior can impact investment returns. Diversification, risk tolerance, and investment time horizon also play a significant role in determining the rate of return.

Recommended Articles

This article has been a guide to what is Rate of Return on Investment. Here we explain its formula, and calculation with examples, advantages, and disadvantages. Here we also discuss the advantages and disadvantages. You can learn more about it from the following articles –

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *