Investment Return

Personal Finance February 20, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Total return is the profit (or loss) on an investment. It is a combination of current income (cash received from interest, dividends, etc.) and capital gains or losses (the change in value of the investment between the time you bought and sold it). The published rate of return for a selected investment is usually expressed as a percentage of the current price on an annual basis. However, the real rate of return is the rate of return earned after inflation, which is further reduced by income taxes and transaction costs.

Total return is the profit (or loss) on an investment. It is a combination of current income (cash received from interest, dividends, etc.) and capital gains or losses (the change in value of the investment between the time you bought and sold it). The published rate of return for a selected investment is usually expressed as a percentage of the current price on an annual basis. However, the real rate of return is the rate of return earned after inflation, which is further reduced by income taxes and transaction costs.

Illustration of "Total Return" and "Rate of Return"

  Current Income + Capital Gain (or Loss) = Total Return
Ex: $2 + $1 = $3
  Annual Return ÷ Current Price of Security = Rate of Return
Ex: $3 ÷ $24 (per share) = .125 or 12.5%

 

Historically, stocks have had the highest average annual investment return of all types of investments, especially over long time periods of 10 years or more. The average annual rates of return for major investment asset classes from 1925-2011, according to the Chicago investment research firm, Ibbotson Associates, were: 9.8% large company stocks, 11.9% small company stocks, 5.7% government bonds, 3.6% Treasury Bills, and 3.0% inflation.