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CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

71% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.

Trading Terms

Rate of return: what is it? Definition & examples

Rate of return: Two hands holding a bundle of money, symbolizing wealth and financial success.

What is the Rate of Return?

Imagine this: You are about to invest a significant portion of your savings into a stock or a venture, and you want to make sure your efforts yield the highest possible reward. In this case, understanding the Rate of Return (ROR) would be crucial. But what is it?

When it comes to investing, one of the most critical concepts you need to understand is the Rate of Return (ROR). It is a key performance indicator used to determine whether an investment is worth the risk or not. In other words, it helps investors to evaluate the potential return on their investment and compare it with other investment opportunities.

The ROR is expressed as a percentage of the initial investment. A positive ROR indicates a profit, while a negative ROR means a loss.

It is also essential to note that the ROR is a historical metric, and it does not guarantee future returns. Additionally, the rate of return does not take into account the risk associated with an investment. Therefore, investors should also consider other metrics such as risk-adjusted returns when evaluating investment opportunities.

How to calculate rate of return

Calculating the rate of return (ROR) is a relatively simple process that involves taking into account the following values:

  • Initial investment: The amount of money that was initially invested in the asset.
  • Final value: The current value of the asset or the value at the end of the investment period.
  • Additional contributions: Any additional contributions made during the investment period.
  • Income generated: Any income generated by the asset, such as dividends, interest, or rent.

Once you have gathered this information, you can use the following formula to calculate the ROR:


Let's say you invested $10,000 in a stock, and after two years, the stock has a current value of $12,000. You also received $500 in dividends during the two years. To calculate the ROR, you can use the formula:


Therefore, the rate of return on this investment is 25%, indicating a profit of $2,500 on the initial investment of $10,000.

Limitations of rate of return

While the rate of return is a useful metric for evaluating investment performance, it does have some limitations that investors should be aware of:

Ignores the timing of cash flows
The ROR assumes that all cash flows occur at the same time, which may not be the case. If cash in and cash out occur at different times, the ROR will not accurately reflect it.
Doesn't consider risk
It does not take into account the level of risk associated with the investment. A higher return may be associated with higher risk, and investors should consider it before making any decisions.
Doesn't account for inflation
The rate of return does not consider inflation, which can erode the purchasing power of the return. An investment with a high ROR may not be as profitable if inflation is high.
Does not consider taxes
It does not take into account the impact of taxes on the investment that can significantly impact the profitability.
Can be misleading
The ROR can be misleading if the investment is held for a short period. A high rate over a short period may not be sustainable over the long term, and investors should consider it as well.
Only measures financial returns
It only measures financial returns and does not consider non-financial benefits or other costs associated with the investment.

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ROR in stock investments: a practical example

Suppose you bought 100 shares of a company's stock for $50 per share, for a total investment of $5,000. At the end of one year, the stock is trading at $60 per share, and the company has paid out a dividend of $1 per share.

We first need to calculate the total return. It is the sum of capital gains ($10 per share) and dividends ($1 per share). Therefore, the total return is $1,100.

To calculate the ROR, we need to divide this figure by the initial investment and express it as a percentage.


It's important to note that the rate of return for stocks can vary widely depending on the stock and the time frame considered. Some stocks may have high value over short periods, but lower over longer ones, while others can be exactly the opposite.

Investors should also consider the risks associated with stock investments, such as volatility and the potential for loss of capital. It's important to diversify investments and consider risk-adjusted metrics in addition to the ROR when evaluating stock investments.



When it comes to evaluating the performance of an investment, two common metrics are often used:

  • Rate of return (ROR)
  • Return on investment (ROI)

Although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are important differences between them.

ROI measures the amount of return on an investment relative to its cost. It is expressed as a percentage and calculated by subtracting the cost of the investment from its final value, and then dividing that number by the initial cost. ROI can be used to compare the profitability of different investments.

On the other hand, ROR measures the gain or loss of an investment over a specific period of time and it takes into account both capital gains and income generated by the investment. Unlike ROI, which focuses on the initial cost of the investment, ROR takes into account the time value of money and the length of the investment period.

While both metrics can be useful in evaluating the performance of an investment, they have different applications. ROI is better suited for comparing the profitability of different investments, while ROR is more useful for assessing the performance of a single investment over time.

Return on Equity (ROE)

Another interesting financial index is the Return on Equity (ROE). It is a ratio that measures a company's profitability by calculating how much profit the company generates with the shareholder's equity invested in the business.

To calculate ROE, the net income of a company is divided by the shareholder's equity. Shareholder's equity is the difference between the total assets and total liabilities of the company.


It is useful to evaluate how efficiently a company is utilizing its equity to generate profits. ROE is also useful for comparing the performance of companies within the same industry.

In conclusion, the rate of return is a fundamental concept in investment evaluation. It helps investors to determine the profitability of an investment and compare it with other opportunities. However, it's important to be aware of its limitations and use other metrics in conjunction with ROR to make informed investment decisions. Ultimately, diversification and risk-adjusted metrics should be considered to ensure a well-rounded investment portfolio.


What is the rate of return?

The rate of return is a measure of the gain or loss made on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. It's usually expressed as a percentage and calculated by dividing the profit or loss made from an investment by the initial investment cost.

How is the rate of return calculated?

The formula to calculate the rate of return is: (Final Value of Investment - Initial Value of Investment) / Initial Value of Investment * 100%. This gives you the rate of return as a percentage.

Can the rate of return be negative?

Yes, if the value of an investment falls below the initial cost, the rate of return will be negative. This signifies a loss on the investment.

What is a good rate of return on an investment?

A "good" rate of return can depend on various factors including the type of investment, the risk level, and market conditions. However, many investors might consider a good rate of return to be above the average annual return of the SPX 500, which has historically been around 7-10%, adjusted for inflation.

Can I use the rate of return to compare different investments?

Yes, the rate of return is a useful tool for comparing the performance of different investments. However, it's important to remember that higher rates of return often come with higher risk.

What is an example of a rate of return?

Suppose you buy a stock for $100 and sell it a year later for $120. The rate of return would be: (120-100)/100 * 100% = 20%. This means you've made a 20% return on your investment.

Is the rate of return the same as the interest rate?

No, while they're similar in that they both measure the profitability of an investment, they're not the same. The interest rate is typically fixed and paid on the principal amount, while the rate of return can fluctuate and is calculated based on the overall gain or loss of the investment.

How does the rate of return affect my investment decisions?

The rate of return can provide valuable insight into the performance of an investment, which can guide your investment decisions. If a particular investment consistently provides a high rate of return, it might be worth considering. However, it's also crucial to consider other factors, like risk tolerance and investment goals.

Not investment advice. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance.