ROE - meaning, formula, and calculation

Authored by
Team Espresso
December 27 2022
5 min read

Return on equity or ROE is the annual return that a company makes or its net income calculated as a percentage of its total shareholders' equity. In short, the ratio of an organization's profit to its shareholders' equity is known as return on equity. It is calculated using data from the income statement and the balance sheet. Total return on equity Capital indicates a company's profitability relative to the amount of equity capital invested. Profit margin is the rate at which a company generates a dollar of profit for every dollar invested by shareholders.

Another way to calculate return on equity is by dividing the dividend growth rate by the earnings retention rate of the company (1 – dividend payout ratio).

Why ROE is important

ROE measures a company's financial performance or profitability and is calculated by dividing net income by shareholders’ equity. ROE is a simple yet effective way for investors and businesses to gauge whether or not their money is well spent. However, it is meaningless in isolation and must be compared to the company's historical ROE and the ROE average of the industry. The appraisal of a company can be improved by looking at various financial ratios.

You should know about roe meaning in the stock market. A company's return on equity (ROE) needs to be greater than the return on other safer investments to attract investors.

Companies with a high return on equity may do an excellent job creating profits from within. On the other hand, it underplays the dangers of earning that profit. A company's ROE can increase if it relies substantially on debt to increase net profit.

How to calculate ROE

One way is this – before common stock dividends are distributed, a company's net income is the bottom-line profit recorded on an income statement. Another measure of profitability that can stand in for net income is free cash flow (FCF).

When all of a company's debts are paid off, and its assets are used to cover them, shareholder equity is the difference.

ROE should not be confused with return on total assets (ROTA). ROTA, like EBIT, is a profitability statistic that is arrived at by dividing EBIT by total assets.

Return on equity (ROE) can be computed over time to examine its development. Investors can monitor management performance by tracking the growth rate of return on equity (ROE) over time.

According to data provided by CSI Market, the S&P 500's return on equity in the fourth quarter of 2020 was 6.95 percent. When determining where to put money, a first and crucial step is to evaluate specific industries about the market as a whole.

The next stage is to analyze specific businesses and evaluate how their return on equity (ROE) stacks up against the market and other firms in the same industry.

Studying Calculations for ROE

ROE is an indicator of productivity. While it is a measure of profitability, it is more accurately reflective of a company's ability to increase profits, its use of shareholder funds, and its return on investment.

ROE calculation and formula are:

Investing formula: Return on equity (ROE) = Net Income / Shareholder equity

Net income is the amount of income and its expenses, including taxes, that a company generates in a given time period. 

Shareholder equity is calculated by multiplying the total number of outstanding shares by their respective dollar values.

The return on equity ratio formula results in a single figure, which is further multiplied by 100 to show the result as a percentage. The figure represents the proportion of the shareholder's money returned as profit. If a company has an ROE of 15%, it means that for every $1 spent, it earns $0.15 in profit. With a return on equity of 160%, a company generates $1.60 for every $1.00 invested.

Using ROE in many ways

One can use ROE to determine whether or not a company is going through problems. If you’re wondering why the ROE of a company is double or triple times higher than its peers, it could be safe to assume that the company’s performance is just that good. Or it could mean the following:

• Inconsistent profits: It could be that the company was clocking losses for several years, and in the year of assessment, it clocked windfall profits. In this case, ROE would be very high, which might seem impressive but misleading. 

• Excess debt could also give an impression of high ROE. The more debt a company has, the lower its equity will fall. If you divide the net income by a smaller number, you will get a very high result. 

• Negative net income: A falling income or equity could give a false impression of high ROE. In this case, however, the ROE shouldn’t be calculated, but if you attempt to make this calculation, ROE would appear artificially high and negative. Negative ROE is always worth probing further into. 


Why is a high return on equity important?

Like most other performance indicators, what constitutes a "good" return on equity (ROE) will vary widely depending on the company's industry and competition.

How may a company's ROE be improved?

Capital utilized would be $1,000,000 if the company had $150,000 in equity and $850,000 in debt. The number of utilized assets remains the same.

Which should be used when deciding between ROE and the average shareholder equity?

Analysts who favor using average shareholder's equity argue that it is more appropriate to use this figure because profit accrues to the company over time. In contrast, shareholder's equity is determined once a year, after the fiscal year.

Demat or Dematerialized accounts are used to store digital assets like stocks.


Contingent liabilities are potential liabilities that depend on the occurrence or non-occurrence of a future event.