how to calculate return on equity

How to Calculate Return on Equity (ROE) – A Simple Guide

Did you know the average ROE for companies in the S&P 500 hits about 15%? ROE metric tells us how well a company uses shareholder money to make profits. Learning the ROE formula is important for investors and analysts. It helps them judge a company’s profit-making and growth potential.

This guide will walk you through the ROE calculation steps, its parts, and how to read the results. Knowing how to calculate ROE offers key insights into a company’s financial health and can help you make smarter investment choices. So, let’s start learning about ROE!

What is Return on Equity (ROE)?

Return on Equity (ROE) shows how well a company turns shareholder money into profit. It tells investors if a business is using their money efficiently. To find ROE, divide a company’s net income by its average yearly equity, then multiply by 100.

Definition of Return on Equity

Definition of Return on Equity

ROE tells us the percentage of profit made from investors’ money. The calculation divides a company’s net income by the average shareholder equity. This simple formula is:

ROE = Net Income / Average Shareholder Equity

For instance, if a company makes $10 million net income on $100 million average equity, its ROE is 10%. This shows the company earns 10 cents for every dollar invested.

Importance of ROE for Investors and Companies

Investors use ROE to compare companies and find those with high growth potential. A company with a high ROE effectively turns investor money into profit.

Understanding ROE helps companies perform financial health checks and allocate resources wisely. Improving ROE can also boost investor trust and increase stock value.

Importantly, ROE varies by industry. So, for a fair analysis, compare companies in the same business.

Understanding the Return on Equity Formula

The return on equity (ROE) formula is key for investors and businesses. It helps them check a company’s profitability and efficiency. By looking closely at each part of the formula, we better understand what affects a company’s financial success.

Components of the ROE Formula

The ROE formula has three main parts: net profit margin, return on assets (ROA), and financial leverage. Net profit margin shows how much of every dollar earned turns into profit. It is determined by dividing net income by sales.

ROA tells us how well a company uses its assets to make money. It is computed by dividing net income by total assets. Financial leverage determines how much the company uses debt to run its operations. It is total assets divided by shareholders’ equity.

Net income is what the company makes after paying taxes. This is shown on the income statement. Shareholders’ equity is on the balance sheet, which shows how much of the company’s assets aren’t funded by debt. This is another key part of the formula.

Calculating ROE Step-by-Step

Here’s how you can calculate ROE in simple steps:

1. Get the company’s net income from the income statement for the period you’re interested in.

2. Find the average shareholders’ equity by adding the starting and ending equity totals and dividing by two.

3. Divide the net income by the average shareholders’ equity to get the ROE.

Here is the ROE calculation formula:

ROE = Net Income ÷ Average Shareholders’ Equity

You can calculate shareholders’ equity from the balance sheet. But sometimes, you might need to subtract the company’s liabilities from its assets to figure it out. This is useful when the balance sheet isn’t straightforward.

How to Calculate Return on Equity

Calculating return on equity (ROE) is key for investors and analysts. It shows a company’s ability to profit from shareholders. Remember, you need to collect financial data, use the right formula, and understand the results based on the company’s past and industry.

Gathering Required Financial Data

Gathering Required Financial Data

To start, get data from the income statement and balance sheet. You need net income and shareholders’ equity. Net income is at the bottom of the income statement, and shareholders’ equity is on the balance sheet. If only the current period’s equity is available, take the previous balance sheet’s equity, too. This helps calculate the average for the formula.

Applying the ROE Formula

Next, use the ROE formula with your data. The formula is ROE = Net Income ÷ Average Shareholders’ Equity. For instance, with $1,000,000 net income and $10,000,000 average equity, ROE is 0.10 or 10%.

Interpreting the Results

It’s vital to understand the ROE results clearly. A company with a higher ROE typically generates profits from its equity. But always compare it with other companies in the same field. NYU Stern School of Business mentions that the US market’s average in January 2022 was 18.12%. An ROE between 15% and 20% is good, but 40% or over is excellent.

Remember that an extremely high ROE could indicate risks, like too much debt. Always look at the whole picture, including a company’s debts, industry, and overall financial health. This is key to making the right investment choices.

Factors Influencing Return on Equity

A company’s return on equity (ROE) can be influenced by various key factors, such as its profitability, efficiency, and financial leverage. Understanding the impact of these factors on ROE is crucial for both investors and managers to make informed decisions to improve the company’s performance.

Profitability and Net Income

Profitability and Net Income

The amount of profit a company makes, which is its net income, directly affects its ROE. If a company makes more profit without needing more equity from shareholders, its ROE goes up. For instance, Apple Inc. achieved an ROE of 36.9% in 2017. This showed Apple’s strong ability to make profits compared to its equity. To increase profits and, thus, ROE, companies work on making more sales, spending less, and managing taxes well.

Efficiency and Asset Turnover

How effectively a company utilizes its assets to produce sales is crucial for the return on equity (ROE). This is evaluated by the asset turnover ratio, which is calculated by dividing total sales by total assets. A higher ratio means a company’s assets are used well, leading to a better ROE. Companies can work on this factor to increase their ROE but don’t necessarily need to raise shareholder equity.

Leverage and Financial Risk

Using debt financing is another element that can change a company’s ROE. Debt lets companies get more capital to grow but also raises their financial risk. If a company can’t repay its debts, it might face financial trouble. So, it’s vital for companies to choose how much debt to use wisely. This helps them have a good ROE without taking on too much risk. In 2017, Facebook Inc managed to do this and kept a strong ROE of 19.7%.

Limitations and Drawbacks of ROE

Return on equity (ROE) helps show how profitable and efficient a company is for its shareholders. But it has limits and drawbacks. ROE doesn’t look at how much debt a company has. This means a company might have a high ROE because it’s using a lot of debt. For example, Walmart had an ROE of 16.7% in 2021, beating the U.S. business average. However, when it comes to debt, Walmart might not be more profitable or efficient than others.

ROE can also be thrown off by one-time events or accounting changes. Things like writing down assets or buying back shares can make the ROE seem better than it is. It can be hard to compare companies fairly if they use different accounting practices. If a company’s ROE is negative, it doesn’t give a clear idea of how well they’re doing financially or if they’ll grow in the future.

ROE can sometimes make a company’s value look higher than it really is. Various factors, like depreciation and investment growth, can skew ROE. This is why investors need to look at other metrics and not rely solely on ROE.


Knowing what ROE means is key for investors and managers to check a company’s financial health. It shows how well a firm turns shareholder investments into profits. The 2022 average ROE for companies in the S&P 500 was 21.17%. Sectors like tech and online retail did even better, hitting 35.7% and 27.05%, respectively. This proves that comparing a company’s ROE to its sector’s standards is crucial.

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