**Understanding ROI**

The financial world is riddled with jargon and a multiple of confusing words. Without the understanding of these, it may be difficult to survive in a world filled with bankers, investors and complexed corporate environments. So, without further delay, here is everything you need to know about Return on Investment (ROI).

Return on Investment is a measure of performance, as it is used to evaluate the efficiency of the investment of interest. It can also be used as a comparative tool, as it provides information about multiple investments in a manner that is easily understood and analyzed. This is achieved through the return on investment formula which gives a quantitative analysis of the amount of return of an investment in relation to its cost.

It provides an easily usable formula that has many practical uses. For example, one is able to compare the Return on Investment from a range of assets that are not generally compared. Therefore, one could compare performance on the stock market with that of a new niche start-up by simply plugging the correct financials into the Return on Investment equation.

**The Return on Investment Formula**

In order to calculate this, the amount earned is divided by the cost of the investment. The result is expressed as the Return on Investment ratio. Mathematically, the Return on Investment equation goes as follows:

ROI = (earnings from investment – cost of investment) / cost of investment

Next, one needs to consider how to practically calculate a Return on Investment. To this end, a return on investment example should suffice: John invested $1000 in Nice Shoe Inc in 2010. Today, he wishes to sell those shares and he sells them for a total of $1400. If he wanted to know his return on investment, John would first have to calculate his profits. This is done by subtracting costs of investments from the cost of investment: $1400 – $1000 = $400. Next, the profit must be divided in order to get the return on investment $400/$1000 = 40%. Therefore, John’s return on investment is 40%.

These equations may be made much simpler with the use of online return on investment calculators. This can make life simpler when comparing multiple investment opportunities at the same time, allowing for a simpler path to seeing the opportunity costs associated with a respective business path.

Return on Investment calculator:

Analysing the Results

Generally, any value that comes out of the Return on Investment equation as positive is considered a good return. An importance remains, nonetheless, on evaluating all options so that the investment chosen outweighs its associated opportunity cost. The opportunity cost is defined as the next best option that is forgone with the purchase of any good, service, or asset.

Consider this: John (from the example earlier) had the opportunity of purchasing shares in Nice Shirts Inc. For the same $1000 in investment, his Return on Investment would have equated 50% over the same time period. Therefore, John’s opportunity cost was greater than the profit he made buying shares in Nice Shoes Inc.

From this, one can see that opportunity cost plays an important role in decision-making. A comprehensive Return of Investment analysis may help dramatically in aid of this because, as stated in earlier, the equation provides a good basis for numerical comparison.

**Return on Investment vs Return of Investment**

Whilst doing these calculations, it is important to keep in mind that a return on investment does not necessarily mean a return of investment. Return on investment is speculative; Return of Investment is definite – cold, hard cash in your hands. The end goal of any investor must be to achieve Return of Investment

**Limitations of the Return on Investment Analysis**

Return on Investment is a profitability ratio. This means it is supposed to be an aid in the decision making of any investment opportunity. However, so that it can play a proper role in that situation, it is critical to establish that it does have limits. The equation does not take into account the time between the initial investment and the profit received. So, it may put investments that have different Rates of Return in the same category.

For example, the Return on Investment equation will say two 20% Returns on Investments are exactly the same. Even though the first investment may have achieved this in 6 months and the second in 2 years. Therefore, the Return on Investment analysis is not sufficient on its own and must be used alongside other crucial profitability measures. Such measures provide a better basis with which to make an investment decision. An example of such calculations would include the Net Present Value (NPV) and the Internal Rate of Return (IRR). These are not comprehensive and further research is suggested before making any critical decisions.

Furthermore, the Return of Investment analysis only provides historical data. This means that it cannot be a predictor of what an investment may do in the future. Although, certain implications may be drawn from this.

**The Future for ROI**

Recent times have seen the advent of the Social Return on Investments, a measurement system that takes into account the Triple Bottom Line: social environmental and economic factors. SROI helps the management of companies understand the scope of their decisions in a broader sense than just monetary policy.

Why Return on Investment Matters

Return on Investment calculations is important, as they show how your money is producing a profit. It does this in a manner that is able to show both the efficiency and the magnitude of the respective asset. Moreover, the Return on Investment analysis can act as an alarm bell, as negative products of the equation should see the immediate withdrawal of capital from the investment.

However, it must be remembered that ROI is easily manipulated and does not take into account certain crucial factors, time being an example. Despite this, it remains a critical weapon in the armory of the investor. A Return on Investment Analysis should form the foundation of any well-considered investment.