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What Is Annual Return? Definition and Example Calculation

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An annual return is what?

An investment’s return over time, expressed as a time-weighted yearly percentage, is known as the annual return. Dividends, capital gains, and capital returns are all potential sources of returns. In contrast to a simple arithmetic mean, the rate of yearly return is calculated against the investment’s beginning value and reflects a geometric mean.

Knowledge of Annual Return

An annual return may be estimated for various assets, including stocks, bonds, funds, commodities, and some derivatives. It is the de facto way of evaluating the performance of investments with liquidity. This procedure is chosen because it considers compound interest adjustments and is seen to be more accurate than a basic return. Different asset classes are thought to have varying yearly return strata.

Annual Stock Returns

The annual return, sometimes called an annualized return, describes the rise in stock value over a certain period. Information about the stock’s current price and the price at which it was acquired is needed to compute an annual return. The purchase price must be changed if there have been any splits. The basic return % is first computed when the prices are established, and the result is then annualized. Simply dividing the current price by the purchase price yields a straightforward return.

Consider a shareholder who pays $20 for a stock on January 1, 2000. On January 1, 2005, the investor sold it for $35, making a profit of $15. The investor also gets $2 in dividend payments for the five-year holding term. In this case, the investor would have received a total return of $17 over five years, which is (17/20) 85% of the initial investment.

The formula for the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is as follows:

Example Annual Return Calculation

CAGR=((Ending ValueBeginning Value )1Years)−1 where:CAGR=compound annual growth rateYears=holding period, in years

A true gain or loss on an investment and the difficulty in recovering losses are represented by the annualized return, which deviates from the ordinary average. For instance, to make up for a 50% loss on an initial investment, a 100% gain the following year is necessary. Annualized returns help equal investment outcomes for easier comparability because of the significant variance in profits and losses that might occur.

401(k) annual returns

The formula is different when calculating a 401K’s yearly return for a given year. Calculating the overall return is the first step. The end and initial values for the period under consideration are required. Any contributions made to the account during the calculation period must be deducted from the result before executing the computations.

Once the modified final value has been established, the initial amount is divided by it. Finally, to get the % total return, subtract one from the result and multiply that sum by 100.


  • An investment’s average yearly return over a certain period is known as its annual or annualized return.
  • The return is annualized using a geometric average calculation to depict what the yearly return compounded would appear to be.
  • If you want to compare two assets or observe how an investment has done over time, an annual return may be more helpful than a basic return.
  • An annual return can be calculated for a range of assets, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, commodities, and certain derivatives.

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