Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is a performance measure that evaluates the profitability and efficiency of a particular asset or compares the efficiency of different assets. Return on Investment attempts to measure the amount of gain you can receive on an investment relative to the investment cost.

The calculation for ROI is the return divided by the cost of investment, which leaves you with a percentage ratio that expresses the results.

The Key Aspects of ROI

  • It is a profitability metric that evaluates the performance of an investment.
  • The ROI percentage calculation requires that you divide the investment’s net profit by the initial outlay.
  • ROI can be used to compare similar investments or rank investments in different assets or projects.
  • The holding period or passage of time gets no consideration when the calculation of ROI occurs. That opens up the possibility of missing opportunity costs of investing somewhere else. 

Calculating Return on Investment (ROI)

The return-on-investment calculation is as follows: the current value of investment minus the cost of investment, then divide this by the initial price of the investment.

Capital gains obtained from the sale of the investments interest are known as the Current Value of Investment. 

Comparing various investments is easy with ROI because it measures as a percentage. 

How Does Return on Investment Work?

The metric is popular because of its simplicity and versatility. Essentially it can be used as an initial gauge when checking the investment profitability of an asset.

It could be anything from ROI on a stock investment, the ROI a real estate transaction generated, or the ROI companies expects from expanding its workforce.

This is a fairly simple calculation and is relatively easy to figure out for its wide range of applications. When an ROI is net positive, it is a sign that the particular investment is worthwhile.

Make sure to compare other opportunities with higher ROI if they are available, you can select the best choice from there. The investor should do their best to avoid negative ROI, which means there is a net loss.

For example, Mike invested $1000 in Easy Burger Co. in 2016 and sold his shares for a total of $1200 one year later. The return-on-investment calculation happens by dividing the net profits by the investment cost to get the ROI percentage.

Net profit equals investment value minus investment cost, which is $200. Then you divide $200 by the initial investment amount, leaving you with a 20% ROI.

You can compare investments in other companies with this information. Suppose Mike also invested $2000 in Fancy Foot Shop Inc. in 2014 and sold the share for $2800 in 2017. Mikes holdings in Fancy Foot Shop Inc. would be $800 divide by $2000 gives you 40%

The Limitations of Return on Investment (ROI)

Examples like Mike’s show some the limitations of using ROI, especially when making a comparison between investments. While Mike’s second investment made twice that of the first, there was a 2-year waiting period on the second to obtain the current ROI.

Mike should adjust the ROI of his long-term investment accordingly. So, if the total ROI is 40%, he can obtain the annual average ROI by dividing 40% by 3 to get a 13.33% yearly gain.

So now it appears that although his second investment made more profit, the first one did it more efficiently.

Using ROI with RoR (Rate of Return) helps to consider the time frame of a project. One can also use (NPV) net present value, as it accounts for the difference due to inflation.

The real rate of return is the term used when applying NPV to your RoR calculation. NPV stands for the net present value.

Return on Investment Developments

There have been developments of a new form of the ROI metric. It is called social return on investment (SROI). 

It was developed in the late 1900s and takes note of more comprehensive impacts on investments using extra-financial value. For example, conventional financial accounts do not currently reflect social and environmental metrics.

Using SROI helps you understand the value bid of some environmental, social, and governance criteria used in socially responsible investing. Here is an example for you:

A company decides to replace its lighting with LED bulbs and start uses recycled water in its factory. These have an immediate effect on the cost that might impact traditional ROI negatively. Although, the net benefit to the environment and society can lead to a positive SROI.

There are a variety of different types of ROI that have developed over time for specific purposes.

Social media ROI statistics shows how effective a social media campaign is, for example, how many likes you got in correlation to how much effort was input. Advertising and marketing campaigns use marketing statistic ROI to identify the returnable attributes to the company or campaign.

Information that is learned and retained as skill training or return on education is known as learning ROI. Other forms of niche ROI are sure to be developed as the world progresses and the economy changes.

What is a Good ROI for Investors?

A good ROI depends on many factors, such as risk tolerance and the time required to generate a return on investment. Investors who like to play it safe regularly accept lower ROI in exchange for taking less risk. Likewise, long-term investment requires a higher ROI to be attractive to investors.

Industries with the Highest ROI

The S&P 500 has an average ROI of about 10% per year. There can be considerable variation in that depending on the industry.

To give an example, technology companies during 2020 generated annual returns way over the 10% threshold. 

Meanwhile, energy and utility companies generated lower ROI’s and some even faced losses year after year.

As time goes by, the expected average ROI of the industry shifts because of reasons such as technological changes, increased competition, and alterations in customer preferences.

Final Thoughts

ROI is a vital performance measure needed to see how much your investment has made you over a certain period.

Applying the formula to calculate a percentage ratio of your ROI can help gauge and compare the success of one or more investments.