Return on Assets ROA Ratio Definition, Formula, and Example

Emily Guy Birken is a former educator, lifelong money nerd, and a Plutus Award-winning freelance writer who specializes in the scientific research behind irrational money behaviors. Her background in education allows her to make complex financial topics relatable and easily understood by the layperson. She is the author of four books, including End Financial Stress Now and The Five Years Before You Retire.

  • It measures the percentage of how much income a company’s net operating profit, after taxes, has earned annually on average over three years from all the business operations and investments.
  • However, you shouldn’t compare to ROA of Facebook with, say, the ROA of McDonald’s because the two are in completely different industries.
  • This shows that Company B is able to use its assets more effectively to generate profit, and so is likely the better investment.
  • Calculate and compare the return on assets ratio of the three companies given in the table below.
  • For the “Upside Case”, the company’s return on assets (ROA) increases from 10.0% to 12.5% – which implies more efficient resource allocation, causing increased net earnings.

This is why these asset classes were traditionally accessible only to an exclusive base of wealthy individuals and institutional investors buying in at very high minimums — often between $500,000 and $1 million. These people were considered to be more capable of weathering losses of that magnitude, should the investments underperform. However, that meant the potentially exceptional gains these investments presented were also limited to these groups. Note that we have two absolutely different situations and you probably wonder which is better for the company. ROA is an indicator of performance that incorporates the company’s asset base.

Uses and Users of Financial Ratio Analysis

However, a higher ROA than average may not always be a good sign of efficiency. It could also mean that the company isn’t investing enough in assets, which cause problems in the future. More so, some companies make it look like the ROA is exceptionally high by finding ways to keep their assets off the books. Additionally, measuring the ROA may not be an effective way to evaluate companies in creative fields. This is because, in such fields, brainpower generates profits rather than equipment. This ratio shows how well a company performs by comparing its asset investment with its profitability.

The ratio is relevant in finding stock opportunities as it shows the efficiency of a company at using its assets to generate profits. A ROA that rises over time shows that the company is doing well at increasing its profits with each investment dollar it spends. Whereas, a declining ROA may indicate a company that might have over-invested in assets that have failed to produce revenue growth. There are a few steps involved in calculating the return on assets ratio. And finally, the return on assets formula should be applied by dividing the total net income by the value of the total assets to get the return on assets ratio. Just like other variations of rate of return, the higher the return on assets the better.

A typical ROA will vary depending on the size and industry that a company operates in. Be careful when comparing the ROAs of two companies in different industries. Remember that ROA is most useful for comparing companies in the same industry, as different industries use assets differently.

Get instant access to video lessons taught by experienced investment bankers. Learn financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel shortcuts. For instance, the cash balance is increasing, which means the company has more liquidity on hand and fewer cash outflows related to inventory purchases and Capex. On the other hand, most mechanical pieces of a business, such as vehicles or other machinery, generally depreciate over time as wear and tear affect their value.

For instance, construction companies use large, expensive equipment while software companies use computers and servers. But if those companies were to raise debt capital, their ROE would rise above their ROA from the increased cash balance, as total assets would rise while equity decreases. For investors, ROA can be used in conjunction with other metrics (including ROE, which measures profit relative to equity value) to gain insight into a company’s efficiency. It can be used to assess an individual company’s performance over time or to evaluate it relative to similar companies in the same industry.

Table of Contents

With this in mind, ROOA is a much more accurate measure of how assets are being used to generate income. My Accounting Course  is a world-class educational resource developed by experts to simplify accounting, finance, & investment analysis topics, so students and professionals can learn and propel their careers. Investors would have to compare Charlie’s return with other construction companies in his industry to get a true understanding of how well Charlie is managing his assets. ROA differs from return on investment, a simple ratio that represents your earnings in comparison to the costs of your investment. This number, which is important to external investors, can gauge the return on investment, whether it’s in real estate, stocks or bonds. For example, an asset-heavy company, such as a manufacturer, may have an ROA of 6% while an asset-light company, such as a dating app, could have an ROA of 15%.

The data below is the ROA of each company from October through December 2018, and it comes from Macrotrends. Since ROA is expressed in percentage, the result of dividing the net profit by the average total assets should be multiplied by 100. It measures the percentage of how much income a company’s net operating profit, after taxes, has earned annually on average over three years from all the business operations and investments.

Return on Assets Formula in Excel (With Excel Template)

In the next step, all that remains to complete our return on assets (ROA) calculations is the net income assumptions. As a general rule, a return on assets under 5% is considered an asset-intensive business while a return on assets above 20% is considered an asset-light business. Below are some examples of the most common reasons companies perform an analysis of their return on assets. Imagine two companies… one with a net income of $50 million and assets of $500 million, the other with a net income of $10 million and assets of $15 million. Let’s walk through an example, step by step, of how to calculate return on assets using the formula above.

Return on Equity vs. Return on Invested Capital

Although the bank’s net income might be similar and have high-quality assets, its ROA might be lower than the unrelated company. The larger total asset figure must be divided into the net income, creating a lower ROA for the bank. Both ROA and return on equity (ROE) measure how well a company utilizes its resources. But one of the key differences between the two is how they each treat a company’s debt. After all, its total assets include any capital it borrows to run its operations. The ratio is considered to be an indicator of how effectively a company is using its assets to generate earnings.

You should be very cautious about comparing ROAs across different companies, however. ROA is not a useful tool for comparing different sized companies or companies that aren’t in similar industries. Expected ROAs might vary even among companies of the same size in the same industry, but are at different stages in their corporate lifecycles. A ROA of 5% or lower might be considered low, while a ROA over 20% high. A ROA for an asset-intensive company might be 2%, but a company with an equivalent net income and fewer assets might have a ROA of 15%. Net income is the net amount realized by a firm after deducting all the costs of doing business in a given period.

How to Calculate Return on Assets?

If you only compared to two based on ROA, you’d probably decide the app was a better investment. To reiterate from earlier, the equation for calculating the return on assets is shown below. The first company earns a return on assets of 10% and the second one earns an ROA of 67%. ROA is commonly used by analysts performing financial analysis of a company’s performance. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more. Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets.

For example, assume a company, TechCo, has maintained a steady ROE of 18% over the past few years compared to the average of its peers, which was 15%. An investor could conclude that TechCo’s management is above average at using the company’s assets to create profits. income statement It is considered best practice to calculate ROE based on average equity over a period because of the mismatch between the income statement and the balance sheet. ROE is considered a gauge of a corporation’s profitability and how efficient it is in generating profits.

Average total assets are used in calculating ROA because a company’s asset total can vary over time due to the purchase or sale of vehicles, land, equipment, inventory changes, or seasonal sales fluctuations. As a result, calculating the average total assets for the period in question is more accurate than the total assets for one period. The ROA calculation can be very helpful in comparing the profitability of a company over multiple quarters and years.


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