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Return on Equity (ROE): Understanding and Using it for Company Analysis

Return on Equity (ROE) is a key financial metric used by investors and financial analysts to assess a company's profitability and its efficiency in utilizing shareholders' money. This ratio indicates how much return the company generates on each dollar invested by its shareholders.

Example of Return on Equity:

Let's imagine a company called "Brilliant Investments" has a net income of $1 million and shareholders' equity of $10 million. We can calculate the ROE using the following formula:

ROE = Net Income / Shareholders' Equity

In this case:

ROE = $1 million / $10 million = 10%

This means "Brilliant Investments" generates a 10% return on every dollar invested by its shareholders.

How to Calculate ROE Using Excel:

  1. Enter the net income in cell A1.

  2. Enter the shareholders' equity in cell B1.

  3. In cell C1, type the following formula: =A1/B1.

  4. Press Enter and the ROE ratio will be displayed in cell C1.

Uses of Return on Equity:

  • Comparing Companies in the Same Industry: ROE helps investors compare the performance of similar companies. For example, an investor might choose the company with the highest ROE within a group of companies operating in the same sector.

  • Evaluating Management Efficiency: ROE reflects how well a company's management utilizes shareholders' money to generate profits.

  • Analyzing Company Trends Over Time: Investors can track a company's ROE over several periods to assess its financial performance and future trends.

What Does ROE Tell You?

ROE tells you how efficient a company is at generating profits from shareholders' money. Generally, investors favor companies with a high ROE as it indicates the company is effectively using shareholder funds.

Limitations of Return on Equity:

  • ROE Doesn't Consider Company Risk: A company might have a high ROE but also be exposed to high risks. Therefore, investors should consider other factors alongside ROE when making investment decisions.

  • ROE Can Be Affected by Capital Structure: Companies with a high debt ratio might have a higher ROE compared to companies with lower debt. However, companies with higher debt are also riskier.

  • ROE Differs Between Sectors: ROE cannot be directly compared between companies operating in different sectors. For instance, tech startups are expected to have a different ROE compared to utility companies.


Return on Equity is a valuable financial metric for investors and financial analysts to assess a company's profitability and efficiency. However, it's crucial to consider the limitations of this ratio and use it alongside other factors when analyzing companies.


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