What Is a Return on Equity (ROE)?


Return on Equity (ROE) is a performance metric of a company that identifies how much profit a company has earned compared to the amount of shareholder’s equity. It measures the amount of net income that the company has earned from each dollar of equity reinvested back into the company, expressed as a percentage.

ROE provides an insight into the profitability of the business and can be used to measure both short-term success and long-term potential of a company. The benefits of calculating ROE include more accurate market valuations in all stages, increased investor confidence, better management of capital and resources, and improved financial decision making.

ROE Calculations

Return on Equity (ROE) is a profitability ratio that measures the return of an investment being made into a company. It shows the rate of return on a shareholder's investment in a company and can be used to compare a company against its peers in terms of return to investors. To calculate ROE, a company first has to understand and determine its components.

Components of ROE

The components of ROE include net income, average shareholder equity and dividend payment. Net income is calculated by subtracting the company’s total expenses from its total revenue. Average shareholder equity is calculated by adding the beginning and ending balances of equity and dividing the total by two. Lastly, dividend payment (if any) adds to the ROE calculation.

Steps for Calculating ROE

The overall formula for calculating ROE is net income divided by average shareholder equity. To calculate the ROE, follow these steps:

  • Calculate a company’s total revenue
  • Subtract the company’s total expenses from the total revenue to get net income
  • Add the beginning and ending balances of equity to get total equity
  • Divide total equity by two to get average shareholder equity
  • Divide net income by average shareholder equity
  • If a company has paid dividends, add the amount to the calculation
  • The formula will now provide the return on equity

ROE is an important ratio for investors to understand when considering investing in a company. The ratio can help them compare the returns to the investment made. It can also be used for evaluating a company's efficiency and profitability, as greater ROE indicates a better usage of equity funds and more efficient management of the company.

Understanding Return on Equity (ROE)

Return on Equity (ROE) is a measure of how well a company is performing relative to shareholder's equity. It is used as a indicator of how profitable a company is to investors by understanding what percentage of their invested equity is returned or earned. ROE is the most economical way for investors to determine if the company is a worthwhile investment.

Factors that Affect ROE


The profitability of a company has a direct effect on its Return on Equity. Essentially, the greater a company's net income is in relation to its shareholder equity, the higher the Return on Equity. This results in a higher return for the investor, which is beneficial to the company.

Financial Leverage

Financial leverage is a measure of the degree to which a company has borrowed funds from other sources, such as banks and investors, to finance operations. The more leverage a company has, the greater its Return on Equity will be. Leverage is beneficial to a company as it can propel its profits; however, it also carries increased risk because of the extra debt.

Asset Utilization

Asset utilization is the ability of a company to efficiently and effectively use its current assets to generate sales or income. A company's Return on Equity can be improved if it utilizes its current assets more efficiently. Companies can employ a wide range of strategies to maximize the utilization of their resources, including pricing, inventory control, negotiations and relationship management.

Benchmarking Return on Equity

Benchmarking Return on Equity (ROE) is a financial indicator used by shareholders and investors to measure how well a company generates profits from the equity it has invested in the business. By comparing a company's ROE to industry averages, credit rating averages, and averages from other similar companies, potential investors can get an accurate picture on the financial health of the business.

Industry Averages

ROE can vary significantly between different industries, so it can be helpful to look at the average ROE of companies within the same industry before investing. Comparable company analysis is an effective method to compare a company's ROE to its industry peers. This will help investors determine whether the company is performing above or below the industry average and if they want to invest in the business. Some industries may also have a higher or lower ROE than others, so it's important to consider this when making decisions.

Credit Rating Averages

The credit rating of a company can also affect its ROE. Companies with higher credit ratings will often have better access to financing and lower interest rates, which will improve their ROE. For companies with lower credit ratings, investors should analyze the ROE relative to the industry average and examine what measures the company has taken to improve its credit rating. ROE can also be used to compare similar companies with different credit ratings since it takes into account the varying interest rates.

ROE is a useful tool for investors to evaluate a company's financial health. By benchmarking a company's ROE relative to industry averages and credit rating averages, investors can gain insight into how the company is performing and make more informed decisions. However, investors should also consider other factors when making investment decisions as ROE is only one financial indicator.

Improving Return on Equity

Return of Equity (ROE) is a measure of how effectively a company is using its resources to generate a profit. Improving a company's ROE is a challenge for business owners and investors alike, and there are a few basic strategies for achieving higher returns.

Increasing Net Income

The most basic way to improve ROE is to increase the company's net income. This can be done through various means such as cost-cutting, expanding into new markets, developing new products, or reducing distribution costs. A company that is able to generate more income can use this to invest back into the business, or to distribute the profits to shareholders.

Reducing Debt Load

A company's debt load can have a significant impact on its ROE. Reducing debt by paying off mortgages or refinancing instead of taking on new debt can help to improve ROE by reducing the amount of money needed to service existing debt. This frees up capital that can be used to invest back into the company, or distribute to shareholders.

Increasing Asset Efficiency

Another way to increase ROE is by improving the efficiency of the company's assets. This can be done by reducing the amount of time required to manufacture products, streamlining the production process, or leveraging new technologies to improve asset utilization. By using assets more efficiently, a company can increase its ROE without necessarily having to increase net income.

Improving ROE is a challenging goal for businesses, but with the right strategies, it can be achieved. Strategies such as increasing net income, reducing debt load, and increasing asset efficiency can all be used to help a company achieve a higher ROE.

Caveats of Return on Equity (ROE)

Return on equity (ROE) is a measurement of profitability that tells shareholders how well the company is performing. While it can provide a useful benchmark for assessing financial health and stability, there are certain issues related to ROE that one must consider.

Shareholder Concerns

By focusing only on the company’s overall financial position, ROE does not consider the return generated from particular investments or the marginal impact of additional investments. This means that shareholders may be unaware of the true gains that the company is making. Furthermore, the ratio’s focus on coverting net income into equity may lead to an underestimation of the company’s total profitability.

Simplified Measure of Profitability

Since ROE only looks at net income as a percentage of shareholder equity, it fails to provide a true representation of the company’s total profit. This is because it doesn’t factor in expenses such as debt, taxes, or other obligations that the company may have. Additionally, ROE can be manipulated by artificially inflating net income (through aggressive accounting practices) or decreasing shareholder equity (by using money from the company’s operations to fund activities that don’t generate as much return).

  • ROE does not factor in particular investments or the marginal impact of additional investments, making it an inaccurate measure of profitability for shareholders.
  • ROE fails to factor in expenses such as debt, taxes, or other obligations that the company may have, which can lead to a distorted level of profitability.
  • ROE can be manipulated by inflating net income or decreasing shareholder equity, therefore making it an unreliable measure of success.


Return on Equity (ROE) is an important financial ratio used to measure how well a company utilizes its investors' funds. An investor can use ROE to compare a company's performance to industry or sector averages. In addition to evaluating a company's performance, a high rate of return on equity can be used to determine a company's efficiency and potentially identify investments opportunities. It is important for investors to do their research and understand a company's ROE when evaluating where to place their investments.

In summary, Return on Equity (ROE) measures the profitability a company generates relative to the money shareholders have invested in it. It is a measure of how well a company can turn equity into profit. By comparing a company's ROE to similar companies and industry averages, investors can determine the performance of their investments and make informed decisions to optimize their portfolios.

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