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What is a return on investment (ROI)?

Understanding Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment, frequently referred to by its acronym, ROI, is a performance criterion that is widely used to measure the likelihood of gaining a return from an investment. It is a ratio that compares the gain or loss from an investment relative to its cost.

The use of ROI is prevalent and applicable in many areas, particularly where investment is involved. These areas might include marketing strategies, real estate, the equity market, manufacturing businesses, or even reviewing the performance of a particular management. Understanding ROI will help to measure the efficiency or profitability of an investment.

Defining Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on Investment (ROI) is a financial metric that is commonly used to measure the probability of gaining a profit from an investment. It is used to compare the efficiency of different investments. The formula for ROI is:

ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100%

The resulting figure will be a percentage. A positive ROI indicates a profitable investment, while a negative ROI points to a loss. The higher the percentage, the more successful the investment from a financial standpoint.

ROI in Stock Market Investing

The concept of ROI also applies in the realm of stock market investing. Here, ROI can assess the performance of an individual security in the portfolio or the portfolio as a whole.

Investors use ROI to compare the efficiency of numerous investments. If an investor has choices to make, the ROI can help in making a decision. The investment with the highest ROI is usually the preferred choice.

The Importance of ROI in Investment Decisions

Understanding Return on Investment (ROI) comes with many benefits. It not only measures efficiency or returns on investments but also helps in making investment decisions.

ROI can be useful when comparing returns from different investments, allowing the investor to choose investments that provide the highest return. Therefore, if your goal as an investor is to make the most return—or most profit—from your investments, then understanding the ROI of each investment is critical.

Furthermore, ROI is helpful for calculating the potential return from future investments. For successful investing, one must have a clear understanding of ROI to make informed decisions that result in positive investment returns. The saying, “The higher the risk, the higher the return,” generally holds in the world of investment, but knowing and calculating the ROI helps reduce the risk.

Calculating ROI: A Practical Example

Let’s consider a practical example. Suppose an investor buys shares of a company named ABC for $1000. After one year, the investor sells the shares for $1200.

Here, the net profit from the investment would be: $1200 (the selling price) minus $1000 (the purchase price) = $200

Now, to calculate the ROI:

ROI = (Net Profit / Cost of Investment) x 100%

ROI = ($200 / $1000) x 100%

ROI = 20%

Therefore, the ROI on the investor’s shares of company ABC is 20%.


In conclusion, Return on Investment (ROI) is a ratio between net profit and cost of investment. A higher ROI means the investment gains compare favorably to its cost. As a performance measure, it is used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiencies of several different investments. In other words, the ROI tells you the amount of return you will receive on an investment relative to the cost of the investment.