Return on Investments, ROI: Guide

April 2, 2022
April 2, 2022 Zahra Ijaz

Return on Investments, ROI: Guide

If you need to find the profitability of an investment, then you can use a metric: Return on Investment, ROI.

ROI helps you to compare how much you paid for an investment to how much you have earned to evaluate its efficiency.

How? Keep on reading to learn more about it in detail.


Return on Investment, ROI

Return on investments, ROI is a performance measure that you can use to evaluate the efficiency or profitability of your investment.

Moreover, you can also use it to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. ROI tries to directly measure the amount of return on a particular investment, relative to the cost of investment.

Keep on reading.

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Understanding Return on Investment, ROI

Return on investment, ROI is a mathematical formula that you can use as an investor to evaluate your investments.

It also helps you to judge how well a particular investment is performing in comparison to others.

Moreover, you can also use an ROI calculation along with other approaches to develop a business case for a certain proposal.

The overall return on investments, ROI for an enterprise is used as a way to grade how well a company is managed.

Furthermore, you can measure ROI in terms of meeting one or more of the following objectives rather than immediate profit or cost savings, if you have immediate objectives:

  • market revenue share
  • building infrastructures
  • positioning for sales

In simple terms, return on investments is a simple ratio that divides the net profit or loss for investment by its cost.

As you express it in percentage, you can compare the effectiveness or profitability of different investment choices.

Additionally, it is important to note that it is closely related to measures like return on assets, ROA, and return on equity, ROE.

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Calculating Return on Investment, ROI

In order to calculate ROI, there are a number of methods to do so.

However, the most common one is net income divided by the total cost of the investments or ROI= Net Incomes/Cost of Investments x 100

As an example, consider the following:

Let’s say you are a person who is investing $90 into a business venture and spends an additional $10 researching the venture.

Your total cost as an investor will be $ 100.

In case that venture is generating $300 in revenue, it has $100 in personnel and regulatory costs, and the net profits will be $200.

Using the above formula, your return on investments, ROI will be $200 divided by $100 for a quotient and the answer of 2.

Most often, as we express ROI in percentage, you will need to convert the quotient to a percentage by multiplying it by 100.

Therefore, this particular ROI investment is 2 multiplied by 100 or 200%.


Let’s compare it to another example:

As an investor, you put $10,000 into a venture without incurring any fees or associated costs.

The net profits of the company are $15,000. The investors make $5,000.

It is significantly more than the $200 in net profits we saw in the above example.

However, the ROI offers a different view: $15,000 divided by $10,000 equals 1.5.

Multiplying his by 100 yields an ROI of 150%.

Though the first investment strategy produces fewer dollars, the higher ROI indicates a more productive investment.

Another possible method to calculate ROI is an investment that you can gain by dividing the investment base. Or ROI=Investment gain/Investment base.

Thus, there are other ways to calculate ROI, so when discussing or comparing ROIs between departments or businesses, it is important to clarify which equation you can use to determine the percentage.

Each equation may help to measure a specific set of investments.

Return on investments, ROI shows a percentage instead of a ratio for ease of understanding.

Interpreting ROI Calculations

You can use ROI to gauge different metrics, all of which can help to determine how profitable your business is.

To calculate ROI with the most accurate total returns and total costs should be measured.

When ROI calculation has a positive return percentage, this means the business or the ROI metric measurement is profitable.

However, if the calculation has a negative ROI percentage, this means the business or metric is against what owes more money than what you earn.

Uses of ROI
You can use return on investments, ROI to evaluate a number of investment decisions, comparing them to their initial cost.

Moreover, you can also use ROI when evaluating future or prior investments.

Therefore, you can calculate the ROI to judge your own personal investments and compare one investment.

Whether it is stockholding or a financial stake in a small company, against another in their own investment portfolios.

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Advantages, Limitations, and Alternatives

One of the important things to note about return on investment is that ROI is only as good as the numbers you feed into the calculations. However, ROI cannot eliminate risk or uncertainty.
When you use ROI to decide on future investments, you still need to factor in the risk of your projections on net profit and can either be too optimistic or too pessimistic.
Let’s learn more about it in detail.

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Benefits of Return on Investments, ROI

Some of the benefits of return on investments, ROI are as follows:

Easy to Calculate In order to calculate ROI, you need only a few figures to complete the calculation.

All of these are available in financial statements or balance sheets.

Comparative Analysis Capability As the return on investments has widespread uses and its ease of calculation, you can compare the number of investment returns between organizations.


Measurement of Profitability ROI relates to net income for investments that you can make in a specific business unit.

Moreover, it provides a better measure of profitability for a company or team.

According to conventional wisdom, an ROI of approximately 7% or greater is a good ROI for an investment in stocks.

This is also about the average annual return of S&P 500, accounting for inflation.

As this is an average, some years your return may be higher, some years, however, maybe lower.

However, overall performance will smooth out to around this amount.

Furthermore, finding the appropriate ROI for your investment strategy needs careful consideration rather than using a simple benchmark.

The S&P 500 may not be the appropriate consideration for the level of the risk you are willing to take or the asset class you are investing in, for example.

Thus, make sure to ask the following questions:

  • How much can you risk to afford to take on?
  • What will happen if you lose the money you invest?
  • How much profit do you need for the investment to take on the prospect of losing money?
  • What else can you do with the money if you do not make a particular investment?

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Limitations of ROI

ROI is one of the most common investments and profitability ratios you can use today.

However, it does have its limitations. These include the following:

Inability to Consider Time in the Equation On the surface, you may consider the higher ROI as the better investment.

However, an investment that takes 10 years to produce a higher ROI pales in comparison to a second investment that takes just a year to produce a slightly lower ROI.

ROI calculations can differ between businesses As there are different equations to calculate ROI, not every business uses the same one.

Moreover, making the comparison between investments is irrelevant.

Managers may only select Investments with larger ROIs Some investments with lower ROIs may still increase the value of the business.

However, suboptimal choices can often lead to poor allocation of resources.

No way to Account for Nonfinancial Benefits Using the ROI for new computers, for instance, your business can use specific dollar amounts to calculate the net profit and total costs to come up with ROI.

However, calculating the value of improved worker morale as a result of getting new computers is difficult.

Businesses can, however, calculate ROIs for such nontangible benefits by labeling these calculations as soft ROIs.

While the calculation made with tangible dollar amounts are hard ROIs.

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Alternatives to Return to Investments, ROI

There are similar alternative measurements to ROI that you can use to varying degrees.

These are:

Annualized ROI This form of ROI considers the length of time a stakeholder has the investment.

Consider the example of annual return calculation:

Annualized ROI= ((Final value of investments – Initial value of investments)/ Initial value of investments) x 100

In the same way, you can calculate the annual performances rate by using ((P+G))/P^(1/n)-1

In the above equation, P equals initial investments G equals gains or losses, and n equals the number of years you hold the investment.

Social ROI, SROI SROI is outcome-based and considers the broader impact of economic, environmental, and social value.

Moreover, it helps to translate these outcomes into tangible dollars.

The calculation is SROI = Net present value of benefits/ Net present value of an investment.

marketing Statistics ROI This one helps to determine the effectiveness of a marketing campaign strategy or marketing program.

A basic calculation is (sales growth – marketing cost)/ marketing cost

Social Media Statistics ROI Social media statics, ROI, helps to determine the effectiveness of social media campaign and can include the number of views or likes it generates.

With the help of simple calculations to measure the time, money, and resources that go into social media ROI by revenue is (value / total investment) x 100


When you put money into an investment or a business endeavor, ROI helps to understand how much profit or loss your investment is earning. ROI is a simple ratio that divides net profit or loss from an investment by cost.

As it is expressed as a percentage, you can compare the effectiveness or profitability of different investment choices. Moreover, it is important to note that it is closely related to ROA and ROE.

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