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ROI Calculator - Return on Investment

Created by Tomasz Jedynak, PhD and Arturo Barrantes
Reviewed by Bogna Szyk and Jack Bowater
Based on research by
Cook, T.A. Mastering Global Business Development and Sales Management; 2021See 1 more source
Brealey, R.A.; Myers, S.C.; Allen, F. Principles of Corporate Finance; 2017
Last updated: Apr 18, 2024

ROI calculator is a kind of investment calculator that enables you to estimate the profit or loss on your investment. Our return on investment calculator can also be used to compare the efficiency of a few investments. Thus, you will find the ROI formula helpful when you are going to make a financial decision. If you know how to calculate ROI, it's easier to foresee the results of an investment.

In the following part of the article you will find answers for the following questions:

  • What is ROI?
  • What is ROI formula?
  • How to calculate ROI?
  • What is a difference between ROE vs. ROI?
  • How can you use ROI in making wise financial decisions?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of ROI?

And last but not least, in the text below, you will find out how to use our return on investment calculator to make your calculations (and thus financial decisions) even faster and smarter.

What is ROI?

First of all, you need to know that ROI is an abbreviation of return on investment. By definition, ROI is a ratio between the net gain and the net cost of an investment. In other words, ROI compares the net income from an investment to the net expenses required to finance that investment. Customarily, ROI is presented in the form of percentage points. Thus, when a calculation returns a result of ROI = 0.1, the financial analysts report it as ROI = 10%.

Alongside other simple measures of profitability (NPV, IRR, payback period), ROI is one of the most frequently used methods of evaluating the economic consequences of an investment. Undoubtedly, its main advantage is its simplicity – ROI can be easily applied to measure investment profitability, as it is based on easily available data, and its value is clear to understand and interpret. Moreover, as ROI is calculated as a percentage, it's easy to compare the results of many different investments. Consequently, you are able to choose the most beneficial one, all thanks to ROI.

Before we move on and discuss ROI in greater detail, it is worth mentioning that in finance, several different measures may be called return on investment. For example, you can say ROI when referring to Return on Invested Capital (ROIC), Average Rate of Return, Return on Equity, or Earnings per Share. However, the best known and probably the most commonly used measure is known as simple return of investment, henceforth referred to as return on investment (ROI).

By the way, it is worth mentioning that due to the terminology confusion, when you use the ROI measure in real-life decisions, it is a good idea to know precisely how it has been computed. We also believe that this is one more reason to read our article carefully from top to bottom.

ROI formula

Investors can't estimate the efficiency of their investments without understanding how to calculate ROI. That's why the ROI formula plays a crucial role in investment decisions.

The ROI formula is based on two pieces of information - the gain from investment and the cost of investment. The equation that allows calculating ROI is as follows:

ROI = ( G – C ) / C


  • G - gain from investment
  • C - cost of investment

Note here that the ROI equation doesn't take into consideration any risks associated with the investment. It is one of the biggest limitations of ROI (for more, see the section advantages and disadvantages of ROI).

Examples of ROI calculation

Do you want to understand the ROI equation? Are you curious about how to calculate the ROI in practice? Or maybe you want to know how to interpret the results of an ROI calculation?

We have prepared a few examples to help you find answers to these questions. After studying them carefully, you shouldn't have any trouble with understanding the concept of ROI measure. You will also be capable of making smart financial decisions on the basis of ROI metrics.

Example 1

As an investor in the real estate market, you purchase a property in New York for $600,000. Three years later, you sell this property for $900,000.

To calculate return on investment, you should use the ROI formula:

ROI = ($900,000 – $600,000) / ($600,000) × 100% = 0.5 × 100% = 50%

So the return on your investment for the property is 50%.

Example 2

As a marketing manager in a large international company, you introduce a new marketing program with a budget of $250,000. The result of this program is a $200,000 growth in profits over each of the following two years.
First of all, note that your total gain from this investment is the gain from the first year plus the gain from the second year.

So: G = $200,000 + $200,000 = $400,000.

Then, you can use the ROI formula:

ROI = ($400,000 – $250,000) / ($250,000) × 100% = 0.6 × 100% = 60%

The ROI of the marketing program is 60%.

Example 3

You are an investor in a stock exchange. In January, you bought 150 shares of the company Alpha. The purchase price was $12.67 per share. The total value of the transaction was then: 150 x $12.67 = $1,900.50. After nine months, thanks to the favorable economic conditions, the stock price rose to $15.23, and you decided to sell them (the value of the transaction was: $15.23 × 150 = $2,284.50.

The ROI of this investment is:

ROI = ($2,284.50 – $1,900.50) / ($1,900.50) × 100%= ($384) / ($1,900.50) × 100% = 0.2021 × 100% = 20.21%

A ROI of 20.21% means that your investment turned out to be profitable. However, if instead of rising, let's see what would happen if the price of Alpha had plunged. Let's assume that the final stock price was $9.14. In this case:

ROI = ($1,371 – $1,900.50) / ($1,900.50) × 100%= (-$529.50) / ($1,900.50) × 100% = -0.2786 × 100% = -27.86%

This time, the outcome of your investment is far from profitable.

Return on investment calculator

The numbers given in the examples in the previous paragraph are rather simple, the number used in real business investments tend to be a bit more complicated. If we deal with much larger amounts of money or with more complex numbers, it's far more comfortable to use our return on investment calculator. Although the ROI calculator bases its calculation on the same formula, the usage of it is much faster and easier. With our tool, it's enough only to type the invested amount and the returned amount to get your estimated ROI.

Return on investment calculator is a tool for everyone who has got a business or is planning to set one up. This is also highly recommended for any investors, from shopkeepers to stockbrokers.

Are you curious how to use our return on investment calculator? Obtaining the value of ROI with our smart return on investment calculator is easier than you thought. To assess the profitability of your investment within a few seconds, you don't need to memorize the ROI formula or perform any computations, all you need to do is to fill the appropriate fields in our calculator:

  • invested amount – the amount of money you are going to invest (or you have already invested)
  • returned amount – the total amount of money you are planning to receive (or you have already received) after the closing of the investment.

That's it! In an instant, our return on investment calculator makes all necessary computations and gives the results. They are shown in a field ROI where you could see the value of ROI as a percentage.
Did you know that you can also use the return on investment calculator the other way round? Plug in the initial principal (invested amount) and the percentage of estimated profit (ROI) to find out what amount of money you can expect to earn.

In conclusion, our ROI calculator can help you make the most beneficial financial decision for you, completing many different cost-benefit analysis's in no time. Moreover, with the mobile version of our return on investment calculator you are able to compute ROI whenever and wherever you want.

ROI and financial decisions

Return on investment is a useful measure to estimate the surplus of net investment benefit on an accrual basis. ROI can also be used in making rational financial decisions. As a simple method, ROI is used primarily as an auxiliary at the initial stage of assessment of the investment project.

In general, the decision criterion is defined in the following way:

  • ROI ≥ LV – investment is profitable
  • ROI < LV – investment is unprofitable

Where LV is a predefined limit value.

In the simplest case (investor has a capital to invest and has only one investment alternative), the decision criterion is formulated as follows:

  • ROI ≥ 0 – investment is profitable
  • ROI < 0 – investment is unprofitable

In real life investments, a limit value for ROI analysis may be set on a particular level which is different than zero. For example, you can set a return on investment in your branch of industry (ROIb) as a limit value. Then the absolute decision criterion is:

  • ROI ≥ ROIb – investment is profitable (acceptable)
  • ROI < ROIb – investment is unprofitable (not acceptable)

In a professional application, financial analysts and decision-makers usually use weighted average cost of capital (WACC) as a limit value. In this case, the decision criterion is:

  • ROI ≥ WACC – investment is profitable (acceptable)
  • ROI < WACC – investment is unprofitable (not acceptable)


As return on investment (ROI) is sometimes confused with return on equity (ROE), it is worth briefly discussing the similarities and differences between them.

Firstly, both ROI and ROE are simple methods of an absolute evaluation of investment profitability. The characteristic feature of ROI and ROE is that they are single-periods methods, and they do not have the same value for the entire duration of the investment. Moreover, both of these indicators do not include any risk measure. In addition, neither ROI nor ROE takes TVM (which you can read more about in our time value of money calculator) into account.

The main difference between ROI and ROE is that the former takes into account the total expenditure on investments (this is own capital and debt), whereas the formula of the latter includes only own capital.

Advantages and disadvantages of ROI

The main advantages of ROI are as follows:

  • Obtaining the value of ROI does not require complicated calculations (especially with our ROI calculator). On the contrary, it is simple and easy.
  • The results of calculations are easy to interpret and compare with other investments.
  • The data necessary to perform calculations is easy to obtain. In fact, you only require two figures to obtain the ROI - gain from investment and cost of investment.

On the other hand, the most notable limitations of ROI are:

  • The ROI formula does not take into consideration the changes in the value of money over time (formally, we say that the ROI disregards the factor of time). This leads to the conclusion that a higher value of ROI does not always mean the investment option is better than another.

    Let's consider two alternative investments with the same ROI of 20%. Investment A last one year, and investment B – four years. You will get the profit from investment A within one year. You need three additional years to get the same gain from investment B. Undoubtedly, despite the same values of ROI, investment A is better than B.

    To conclude: If you want to compare two investment options with ROI, you must make sure that ROI calculations are performed over the same time period.

  • The determination of the LV (limit value) is not objective and thus may bias the result of analysis and lead to improper decisions.

  • Return on investment may be susceptible to manipulation. It is because you can use different approaches to measure gain from investment and cost of investment.

  • Results obtained from ROI calculations are valid and comparable only if the considered gains and costs are related to the undertaken investment, and are not effects of other causes.

Investing recommendations for better ROI

  1. In the stock market if you are sure of your investment, you can try to reduce your average cost per share. Then, any posterior return to the investment will be higher because it would be compared to a smaller investment cost.

  2. In the stock market, look for companies with high Earnings per share growth. Specifically, you should look for companies that are reporting over 10% EPS CAGR, those ones are the most likely to give you high ROI if they sustain such earnings growth.

  3. In the stock market, you also have to consider your company operating efficiency. One way of doing that is to measure the EBITDA margin. Remember you should look for EBITDA margin positive and growing. That indicates a company that is doing better and better over time and might give you a considerable ROI in the near future.

  4. Consider tracking your portfolio beta from time to time. The beta of your portfolio indicates how much extra/less risk you have compared to the broad market. Is the risk you can diversify through diversification. For higher ROIs, a higher portfolio beta is recommended. However, you should also be prepared for larger drawdowns.

  5. Another great source of extra income for boosting your ROI is to consider stock options. There are two types of options: calls and puts. With each of them you can make more money in case the market keeps increasing or crash. If you are more into limited risk but still want the extra profit, check out the bull call spread strategy.

Additional information and further calculators

Return on investment is a very popular measure because of its simplicity and usefulness. Now that you know how to calculate ROI, it's high time you found other applications which will help you make the right choices when investing your money. We are sure that the ROI equation is not the only thing you should be familiar with to make smart financial decisions.

  • If you are trying to decide what ROI you will get when investing time and money into building a software tool, check out the build vs. buy calculator.
  • If you want to estimate the average yearly gain from your investment, you should use the CAGR calculator.
  • If you are involved in a trade, you may also need the profit margin calculator, which lets you calculate every variable in the sales process.


How to calculate the ROI percentage?

To calculate the ROI percentage, follow the given instructions:

  1. Find out the initial and final value of the investment.

  2. Subtract the initial value of the investment from the final value.

  3. Divide the result from Step 2 by the initial value of the investment and multiply the result by 100.

  4. Congrats! You have calculated the ROI percentage.

How to calculate the ROI on real estate investment?

To calculate the ROI on a real estate investment, proceed as follows:

  1. Subtract the property's purchase price from its selling price.

  2. Divide the result from Step 1 by the purchase price.

  3. Multiply the result by 100 to get the ROI on real estate investment.

If the net gain on an investment is $1200 and the investment cost is $2000, what is the ROI?

0.6 or 60%. The formula for calculating ROI is ROI = Net gain / Cost of investment. Using the values $1200 and $2000 in the formula we will get: ROI = $1200 / $2000 = 0.6 or 60%.

What does 30% ROI mean?

An ROI (return on investment) of 30% means that the profit or gain from an investment is 30%. For example, if the investment cost is $100, the return from investment is $130 - a profit of $30.

Tomasz Jedynak, PhD and Arturo Barrantes
Basic ROI
Invested amount
Returned amount
Gain or loss
Annualized ROI
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Annualized ROI
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