What Is Return On Equity: Definition, Formula, Importance and Uses

What Is Return On Equity: Definition, Formula, Importance and Uses

The Return on Equity measures the company's Financial Performance by dividing net profits by shareholders' equity. ROE is the return on net assets because shareholders' equity equals the company's assets minus its debt.

Return on equity measures the corporation's profitability and ability to generate profits. The higher the ROE, the more efficiently a company's management creates revenue and growth through equity financing. A higher return on equity attracts more investors in the share market.

To learn what return on equity means, the return on equity calculation method, and its importance, read ahead in this article.

Define Return On Equity

If net income and equity are positive, the return on equity is defined as a percentage and can be calculated for any company. Before dividends are distributed to shareholders, and after dividends in preference shares and interest are charged to creditors, net income shall be calculated. The return on equity differs according to the industry or sector in which the company operates.

Return on equity means a percentage that business owners can use to judge the efficiency of their undertakings. In addition, this can provide a glimpse into the firm's investment and stock management practices to generate returns. Therefore, the return on equity of an enterprise is frequently considered by prospective investors before they put their money into it.

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Table of Content

  1. Define Return On Equity
  2. Formula Of Return On Equity
  3. Importance Of Return On Equity
  4. Uses Of Return On Equity
  5. Can The Return On Equity Be Negative?
  6. Limitations Of Return On Equity
  7. Conclusion

Formula Of Return On Equity

For the assessment of investment returns, ROE provides a simple metric. A comparison between a company's ROE and the industry average can reveal something about its competitive advantage. In addition, how the management of the company uses the funds from the equity to grow the business can be analysed by the ROE.

The Return on Equity equation is as follows: 

ROE = net income ➗ shareholders' equity

The sustainable and increasing ROE implies that the company is good at creating shareholder value as it knows how to maximise its earnings to increase productivity and profits. By contrast, a deteriorating return on equity may indicate poor management decisions concerning converting capital into unused assets.

Importance Of Return On Equity

One of the most important ways to measure a company's profitability is the return on equity. The higher valuation means the company can effectively generate income from new investments. Before making a buying decision, you need to be taught how to assess and compare the return on equity of different companies. Reviewing trends in return on equity over time for the companies you are interested in is also a good idea.

One of the most important things to be aware of when making investment choices is that you need help to rely on a return on investments. The reason is that the parameter may be artificially manipulated by management, making it undependable. For example, even if income remains constant, the return on equity will increase when debt financing is used to reduce the share capital.

The selection of companies whose return on equity matches or exceeds that of their competitors is a good rule to follow when investing.

Uses Of Return On Equity

You can use return on equity in various ways for the growth of your company;

1. Dividend Payments A high return on equity tells whether the company has sufficient resources to pay its shareholders. A strong return on investment indicates that the firm invests its capital efficiently and generates profits so investors can pay dividends.

2. For the estimation of sustainably growing growth - If the ratio is close to or slightly above its peer group's average, ROE can be used for calculating a company's sustainability in terms of growth rates and dividends. When calculating the growth rate of a stock and its dividend, you can use your return on equity. To make an accurate assessment of the growth rate estimates, compare these figures with those of a comparable firm or company

3. The DuPont Formula – A DuPont model is a helpful tool for most investors to obtain an enterprise's return on equity and understand the factors that lead to its highest or lowest ROE. The DuPont formula will calculate the return on equity by comparing a company's overall profit margin to sales turnover and its leverage ratio. 

Here is the arithmetic:

ROE (Return on Equity) = (Net Income/Sales Revenue) X (Sales Revenue/Total Firm Assets) X (Total Firm Assets/Shareholder Equity)

It is more beneficial for investors, who want a more transparent breakdown of the company's performance and knowledge of the components working in their favour, to use this approach rather than conventional return on equity approaches that generally produce similar results.

Can The Return On Equity Be Negative?

Yes. A company's return on equity may be so low that it can fall into a negative range. For firms with poor net income, investors typically do not perform a Return on Equity calculation as these companies' returns are zero. However, sometimes the firm has negative shareholder equity when liabilities are greater than assets at the time of positive net income returns. The return on equity obtained using this formula will be negative in such a case.

Limitations Of Return On Equity

There are some significant drawbacks to ROE as well. Have a look below;

1. A share repurchase may also distort the return on equity. As a result, the number of outstanding shares decreases when management buys back its shares from the market. Therefore, when the denominator is reduced, ROE increases.

2. Some return on equities ratios exclude intangible assets from shareholders' equity. Assets that are not tangible include goodwill, copyrights, trademarks, and patents. This may result in inaccurate calculations that are difficult to compare with those of other companies that choose to have intangible assets.

3. The ratio is subject to some variations in composition, and there may be disagreements between the analysts. For example, the shareholders' equity may be the beginning number, the end number, or the average of the two. At the same time, net income may be substituted for EBITDA and EBIT and may be adjusted or not adjusted for non recurring items.


Finally, look at ROE as a way of helping you find the leaders in your industry. If the company has a high return on equity, they have an excellent chance of making money for you. Before you make any investment decisions, though, it is best to assess each aspect of the company.

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What Is Return On Equity FAQs?

A Return on Equity measures management's ability to generate revenue from the equity at its disposal, as with a return on capital. Generally, a return on equity of 15 to 20% is considered good.

A variety of strategies can achieve improvement in their returns on equity. These strategies are to increase sales, cut costs, improve efficiency, invest more in assets, reduce debt, raise dividends, or buy back shares.

If the company's return on equity is negative, the period in question had a negative net profit, i.e., a loss. This means that the shareholders are losing money on their investments in the company.

Two major reasons for the decrease of ROE is the depreciation: a high depreciation rate leads to a decrease in net income, which in turn leads to a significant reduction in return on equity. And the  rapid growth of the companies requires high capital, which is a drag on return on equity.

A higher proportion indicates that the company can profit more efficiently from its existing assets. Similarly, a company will likely become more efficient if it sees an increase in its return on equity over time.