How to Determine the Return on Investment (ROI)?

How to Determine the Return on Investment (ROI)?

ROI, or return on investment, serves as a performance metric for investments and facilitates the comparison of their profitability. Investments can be evaluated based on their ROI, with higher ROI indicating better performance compared to investments with lower or negative ROI.


Accurately assessing your performance is crucial, regardless of whether you engage in day trading, swing trading, or long-term investments. Without such evaluation, it becomes challenging to gauge your success. One of the notable advantages of trading lies in its ability to provide objective metrics for measuring performance. This, in turn, assists in minimizing emotional and cognitive biases.

While the human mind tends to construct narratives to comprehend the world, it cannot evade the significance of numbers. Negative returns indicate a need for adjustments in your strategy, while a disparity between your perceived success and actual numbers suggests the influence of biases. To evaluate investment performance and compare multiple investments, the calculation of ROI proves invaluable.

What Is Return on Investment?

ROI is a fundamental metric used to gauge the performance of investments and facilitate comparisons between them. It quantifies the gains or losses relative to the initial investment, serving as an approximation of an investment's profitability. A positive ROI indicates profits, while a negative ROI signifies losses compared to the original investment. Calculating ROI is not limited to trading or investment alone; it applies to any business endeavor or purchase. For example, before opening or acquiring a restaurant, conducting a financial analysis and estimating the ROI based on projected expenses and returns can inform a better business decision. If the calculated ROI suggests potential profitability, it may be worth pursuing the venture.

ROI provides a means to evaluate past transactions. For example, consider the scenario of investing in a startup company that develops software for home automation. After investing $50,000, the company grows rapidly over the next few years and eventually goes public. The investor sells their shares for $300,000, resulting in a significant return on investment. By comprehending and utilizing ROI, individuals, and businesses can make informed decisions regarding investments, ventures, and financial strategies.

Calculating ROI

The calculation of ROI follows a straightforward formula. First, subtract the original investment cost from the current value of the investment. Then, divide this difference by the original investment cost.

ROI = (current value - original cost) / original cost

Let's apply this formula to determine the profit from investing in a startup company that develops software for home automation. After investing $50,000, the company grows rapidly over the next few years and eventually goes public. The investor sells their shares for $300,000, resulting in a significant return on investment. The original investment cost was $50,000.

ROI = (300,000 - 50,000) / 50,000 = 5

The ROI is 5, which, when multiplied by 100, gives the rate of return (ROR).

5 x 100 = 500

Therefore, the gain on the original investment is 500%. However, it's crucial to consider the expenses incurred for the investment. Taking into account the expenses, we can recalculate the ROI:

ROI = (250,000 - 50,000) / 50,000 = 4

The ROI is 4 (or 400%). Multiplying this by the original investment cost of $50,000 gives the net profit, which amounts to $200,000.

50,000 x 4 = 200,000

Limitations of ROI

ROI serves as a straightforward measure of profitability, but it has limitations that should be taken into account. One limitation is the lack of consideration for the time involved. The duration over which returns are generated can impact their value, yet ROI does not differentiate between short-term and long-term investments.

Another limitation is the exclusive focus on ROI without considering other aspects of an investment. A higher ROI does not necessarily indicate a superior investment if factors such as liquidity, security, and market demand are not taken into consideration.

Risk is an important factor to consider alongside ROI. Investments with high ROI may come with higher risks, including the potential loss of the original investment or limited access to funds. To gain a more comprehensive understanding, it is advisable to evaluate investments using additional metrics such as risk/reward ratios and other relevant factors like cash flows, interest rates, and return on equity (ROE).


Return on investment is a fundamental metric used to evaluate the performance of portfolios, investments, and businesses. It provides valuable insights for making informed investment decisions. While ROI is not the sole determinant, it remains a useful measure. It is important to consider factors like opportunity cost, risk/reward ratio, and other relevant considerations when choosing between different investment opportunities. However, ROI serves as a valuable starting point in evaluating potential investments.