What is Return on Equity (ROE): Meaning & Formula | My Espresso

What is Return on Equity (ROE) in Share Market?

Today, several businesses—from SMEs to large corporations—leverage the power of ROE (Return on Equity). That’s because the very core of the ROE's meaning lies in its potential to help a business understand its profitability and capability to grow.

Let’s put that in simple words for you. ROE has become the go-to choose of companies who want to determine their financial performance in terms of profitability or revenue generation for the investors and owners.

Published on 03 March 2023

If you're unfamiliar with this measurement tool, haven't heard or read about it before, or want to learn everything you can about it, this is the article for you.

ROE Meaning

Return on Equity (ROE) measures a firm’s financial performance in terms of revenue generation for its owners. It’s basically the computation of your firm’s efficiency in generating growth and revenue.

If you divide your firm's net income (annual income) by the overall value of stockholders’ equity, you will get to know the ROE in the share market for your company. And keep in mind that your ROE will always be expressed as a percentage.

How to understand your company’s performance with ROE? Simple! If the ROE is higher, your firm is more efficient and streamlined in enhancing scalability and generating revenue via equity financing. However, it’s the sector or the industry in which your firm operates that mainly determines the ROE for it. Now that you have a basic understanding of the question "What is ROE?". Let's take a look at how to calculate return on equity (ROE).

Understanding The Return on Equity (ROE) Calculation

ROE is typically represented in percentage form. You can calculate the ROE for a firm if its equity and net income are both positive. A company calculates its net income before paying dividends to common stockholders and after paying interest to lenders and dividends to preferred stockholders.


Return on Equity (ROE) = Net Income / Average Equity of the Shareholder


Net income is the sum of taxes, net expenses, and income a firm produces for a specific timeframe. Adding equity at the onset of the period is an ideal way to calculate the average shareholder's equity.

The period during which you incurred the net income must coincide with the onset and end of the period. You can find the net income for the trailing 12 months or the last complete fiscal year on the income statement - a financial activity performed over that time span.

You can find out the shareholders’ equity from the company’s balance sheet, which gives you the complete history of the company’s assets and liabilities.

Calculating and determining ROE in the share market is recommended based on the average equity over a timeframe due to the contradiction between the balance sheet and the income statement.

Return on Equity (ROE) Drivers

Although the basic formula to determine the return on equity is net income divided by the shareholders’ average equity, you can categorize it into further extra drivers. Below is a representation of the ROE drivers.

ROE Drivers


Net Income / Equity → Return on Assets X Leverage



●        Return on Assets → Net Income / Total Assets

●        Leverage → Total Assets / Equity

Return on Equity (ROE) Example

Consider a firm with average shareholders’ equity of $14,000,000 and an annual income of around $2,400,000. Here, the ROE of the company will be $2.4 million divided by $14 million, or 17.14%.

For a real-life example, let’s consider the financials of the renowned company Apple for the financial year ending in September 2018. During this fiscal year’s end, the tech giant generated a net income worth $59.9 billion.

In the beginning, their average shareholders’ equity was $134 billion, which came down to $107.1 billion by the fiscal year’s end. Thus, the return on equity for Apple for that fiscal year was 49.4%.

Return on Equity (ROE) Limitation

Even though ROE is an ideal indicator for determining the company’s overall performance, it can’t be utilized as the only or exclusive tool. Plus, a high ROE doesn’t always necessarily indicate higher profits or growth. It can be misleading for the investors in the event that the company has excessive debts.

Often, you will find evidence of negative shareholder equity. In such cases, using the ROE to determine the company’s performance is not possible.

Ending Note

With this comprehensive guide, you will have a good understanding of ROE. You should be able to determine your company's performance much more easily now that you understand what ROE means, how to calculate it, its limitations, and everything else.

Chandresh Khona
Team Espresso

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