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Return On Equity (ROE): Definition, Formula, and Examples [+ Excel Template]

Return On Equity (ROE): Definition, Formula, and Examples [+ Excel Template]

. 3 min read

In this article

What is the return on equity (ROE)? How to calculate it with the right formula? Why is it important? If you're looking for answers to these questions, you've come to the right place. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about ROE. Furthermore, you will have access to an excel template that lets you calculate the return on equity for more than 65,000 companies with just one click.

What is the return on equity?

Return on equity (ROE) is used by investors to determine how effectively a company is using its assets to generate income. ROE is very similar to the return on assets metric, except it does not include debt in its calculation. As a result, ROE can be thought of as a kind of return on net assets.

Return on equity, like ROA, is difficult to use as a comparative tool across industries because companies can have industry-specific asset bases as well as different acceptable amounts of debt and assets. As a result, it’s a good idea to use ROE comparatively only against a company’s historical ROE or against a company with a similar asset base.

A shortcut that investors occasionally use is to use the long-term average of the S&P 500 (14%) as the benchmark for an acceptable return on equity and to consider an ROE less than 10% as weak. Although an ROE much greater than 14% may initially seem to indicate an extremely asset efficient company, there are quite a few underlying issues that may be the actual reason behind the high ROE. For instance, inconsistent profits or large amounts of debt could be responsible for an overexaggerated ROE.

Why is ROE important?

According to research carried out by James O'Shaughnessy, investing in companies with a too low ROE leads to underperforming the market.
roe decile perfomance

Source: What works on wall street

By investing in shares in the lowest decile for ROE, you'd get half the returns you'd get by investing in the whole market. For this reason, it is extremely important that you check in what decile are your stocks. You don't want to underperform the market, do you?

How can you check that? Simple! All you have to do is use the Finbox data explorer. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Sign Up for free at Finbox

  2. Go to the Finbox data explorer

  3. Select the company and the metric you want to check (In this case we want to check the ROE)
    roe finbox data explorer

  4. Scroll down to Sector Benchmark Analysis
    roe sector benchmark analysis

  5. Control in what decile are your stocks (If your company is in the lowest decile, you will likely underperform the market. As you can guess, Apple is in the highest decile.)

How to calculate ROE with the right formula

ROE = Net Income / Average Common Equity

Return on equity is calculated by dividing a company’s net income by its average common equity over the same period. Since income is generated over the course of a year, the total common equity is averaged between the start and end of the year.

ROE: Benchmarks by Sector

As of April 30, 2020, the sectors with the highest return on equity are industrials, consumer staples, and consumer discretionary. Energy, information technology, and materials are the sectors with the lowest return on equity.

roe by sector

ROE Example [+Excel Template]

ROE template

I’ve created an example calculation of return on equity to try out. To explore the ROEs of the 65,000+ companies that Finbox supports, just change the ticker in the spreadsheet. Click here to open the spreadsheet in Google Sheets. Select File > Make a copy to modify the example calculation. If you are not already registered on Finbox, all you have to do is sign up for free here.

Don't underperform the market!

Finbox makes it easy to find companies with a strong return on equities. View 100 stocks with strong returns on equity here.