Return On Equity (ROE): Definition & Formula


A financial statistic called return on equity (ROE) measures a company’s efficiency in proportion to the equity of its owners. The statistic Return On Equity (ROE), like Return On Assets (ROA), aids investors in determining how well a firm generates a return on investment. This article examines the definition of ROE, its significance, and its application to investors.

ROE Definition

Investors use the return on equity ratio to assess a company’s profitability in proportion to shareholder equity. A company’s ability to use its shareholders’ equity to produce profit is measured by ROE, which is stated as a percentage.

ROE Formula

Amanda Reaume’s ROE Calculator Recommendations: To find out a company’s net income, look at its income statement. To ascertain a company’s shareholder value, look at its financial statement. In order to calculate ROE more precisely, some people use the average shareholder value over a specific time period, such as a quarter or a fiscal year, as opposed to at a single moment in time.

ROE Calculator (Amanda Reaume)

Advice: Consult the income statement of a corporation to determine its net income. Look at a company’s financial sheet to determine its shareholder value. Some individuals compute ROE using the average shareholder value over a certain time period, such as a quarter or a fiscal year, rather than at a single point in time, to obtain a more precise figure.

Importance of Return on Equity

Investors can have a better understanding of a company’s performance and profitability by looking at its return on equity (ROE).

1. Understanding a Company’s Efficiency and Profitability

A firm is probably running more effectively if its ROE is higher than that of its competitors in the same industry. That could result in improved performance in the future.

2. Comparisons Over Time

A corporation is becoming more lucrative if its ROE is rising. A corporation is getting less profitable if its ROE is dropping.

3. Return on Equity and a Sustainable Growth Rate

The sustainable growth rate of a business may be calculated using ROE. Take a company’s profits retention rate and multiply it by its return on equity to determine this. It may also be determined by averaging the company’s previous ROE performance and earnings retention rate to establish its overall growth rate.

Tip: Creditors can assess the credit risk of a firm using sustainable growth rates. On the other hand, a high growth rate frequently indicates that a firm is likely growing and innovating, which might raise the risk because it may have higher volatility.

4. Finding The Dividend Growth Rate Using ROE

When estimating how much a firm’s dividend could rise in the future, ROE can be used to anticipate the dividend growth rate of the company.

To get this, divide ROE by one and subtract the payout ratio a business employs to compute its dividend payouts. Here is an example of a corporation that has a 10% ROE and pays out 20% of its earnings in dividends.

Dividend Growth Rate is equal to 10% times (1 – 0.20) = 0.08*100, or 8%.


5. Using ROE to Identify Inconsistencies

A company’s ROE may be high for reasons unrelated to profitability or effectiveness. For instance, a firm’s ROE may be quite high but may not indicate that the company has a high likelihood of maintaining its development if it experiences one successful year following a string of unsuccessful ones.

6. Using ROE to Identify Excess Debt

ROE could be unnaturally high if a company has both a negative net income and negative shareholder equity. The ROE calculation should not provide negative results, but if it does, the conclusion will be a high number that may deceive investors.

7. Using ROE to Understand Negative Net Income or Equity

If a corporation has both a negative net income and negative shareholder equity, ROE may be artificially high. The calculation of ROE shouldn’t yield negative outcomes, but if it does, the result will be a high number that can mislead investors.

Return On Equity (ROE): Definition & Formula

ROE Limitations

The use of ROE as a statistic to evaluate a company’s success has various drawbacks.

    • It changes significantly over periods of time as a company’s balance sheet changes over quarters and fiscal years.
    • Can be manipulated: For instance, a business may take out a loan to start a stock repurchase program. The additional debt would reduce the company’s equity and give the impression that it is operating more effectively than it actually is.
  • A company’s capital allocation can also have an impact on its ROE.

For instance, businesses that rent office space may have lower ROE than those that own office space since the latter may have greater debt. The company’s assets are reduced by this debt, giving the impression that it is operating more effectively. However, the business that opted to lease rather than own its premises may operate more profitably over time and generate more revenue from its overall assets. 

Doesn’t account for the holding of inventory due to supply chain disruptions. To address supply chain challenges, some businesses may choose to maintain more inventory than others. These businesses will appear to have more assets than a business devoted to just-in-time production, but their returns on those assets will be lower. However, if there is an interruption in the supply chain, the first firm may be better equipped to manage it without suffering serious effects on their business, while the company without the inventory would suffer revenue losses.

ROE Example

Retailer Allwell Company has shareholder equity of $600 million and a net income of $50 million. Divide $50 million by $600 million to get Allwell’s ROE. 8.3 percent, or 0.083, is the outcome.

Buy It Company, a retailer with $150 million in net profits but $800 million in shareholder equity, is Allwell’s main rival. Divide $100 million by $800 million to get Buy It’s ROE. The outcome is 0.187, or 18.7%.

However, it turns out that Buy It Company owes more money than Allwell. With debt included, Buy It’s total assets now stand at $1 billion, including $300 million in loans. Their return on assets is thus 0.15, or 15%.

While Allwell is able to make 8.3% of every dollar in profit


What is a good ROE?

Because different sectors have different sorts of asset allocations and capital intensities, a good ROE differs by industry. For instance, in some businesses, an ROE of 15 to 20 percent may be regarded as “excellent.”

It’s advisable to compare a company’s ROE to that of its rivals in order to determine whether it is advantageous.

What’s the best way to calculate ROE?

A company’s net profit should be divided by shareholder equity to determine ROE. Then a percentage is used to indicate this. Although a calculator can be used, a spreadsheet or accounting software for businesses makes the calculation simple.

What’s the difference between ROE and ROA?

While ROA determines a company’s profitability in relation to its total assets, ROE determines a company’s profitability in relation to its shareholder equity. The primary distinction is that although debt is deducted when calculating a company’s shareholder equity and is therefore excluded from the ROE ratio, debt is included in ROA.

What’s the difference between the return on equity and the return on invested capital?

While return on invested capital measures a company’s return on invested capital in relation to its cost of capital, or the amount of money it makes in profit after dividends in comparison to the cost of its debt and invested working assets, return on equity measures a company’s operational efficiency in relation to shareholder equity. ROIC measures how well a business directs the funds under its management toward lucrative commercial and investment ventures.

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