Rate of Return

What Is Rate of Return?

The rate of return measures the performance of an investment. Rate of return is calculated by dividing any gain or loss by an investment’s initial cost, or the percentage change of the investment’s value in a given period. Rates of return usually account for any income received from the investment in addition to any realized capital gains.

What Is the Internal Rate of Return (IRR)?

The internal rate of return is used to estimate the profitability of potential investments. More specifically, IRR is the exact discount rate that makes the net present value (NPV) of all cash flows of an investment equal to zero. 

This calculation excludes external factors such as risk-free rate, inflation, cost of capital, or financial risk. The IRR estimates a project’s breakeven rate of return, which indicates the potential profitability of a project.

How to Calculate Rate of Return

To find the rate of return, take an investment’s current value and subtract the initial value (this will give you either a positive or negative number, depending on whether your investment has gained or lost value). Dividing this number by the investment’s initial value and multiplying it by 100 will give you a percentage rate of return.

For example, if you spent $50 on an investment that’s now worth $300, the formula would look like this:

[(300-50) / 50] x 100 = 500% return on investment

However, this calculation doesn’t take inflation into account. To calculate the value with inflation, you can use this Bankrate calculator.

Expected Rate of Return

The expected rate of return is the profit or loss that an investor expects an investment to gain or lose. This is determined by looking at the historical rate of return and multiplying potential outcomes by the chances of them occurring.

Learn more about expected future returns in a rising rate environment.

Personal Rate of Return

Personal rate of return is the amount of gain or loss in a period of time, divided by your cash flow activity. This is calculated the same way as Rate of Return but is specific to all of your investments as opposed to one singular investment. Your personal rate of return also includes your contributions.

Wealthspire Advisors is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary company of NFP Corp.

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