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IntroductionMarket AbbreviationsStock Market StatisticsThinking about Your Financial FutureSearch for AdvisorsFinancial CalculatorsFinancial MediaFederal Agencies and Programs

Investment PortfoliosModern Portfolio TheoriesInvestment StrategyPractical Portfolio Management InfoDiversificationRatingsActivities AbroadTrading Markets

Investment Terminology and InstrumentsBasicsInvestment TerminologyTrading 1 on 1BondsMutual FundsExchange Traded Funds (ETF)StocksAnnuities

Technical Analysis and TradingAnalysis BasicsTechnical IndicatorsTrading ModelsPatternsTrading OptionsTrading ForexTrading CommoditiesSpeculative Investments

RetirementSocial Security BenefitsLong-Term Care InsuranceGeneral Retirement InfoHealth InsuranceMedicare and MedicaidLife InsuranceWills and Trusts

Retirement Accounts401(k) and 403(b) PlansIndividual Retirement Accounts (IRA)SEP and SIMPLE IRAsKeogh PlansMoney Purchase/Profit Sharing PlansSelf-Employed 401(k)s and 457sPension Plan RulesCash-Balance PlansThrift Savings Plans and 529 Plans and ESA

Total Return is the measure of all appreciation and interest as well as dividends and other distributions from an investment. Often computations of return will only consider appreciation, and it can be an easy mistake to make when looking at performance data at times. When a stock pays significant and consistent dividends, it needs to be factored in to the computation of total return. This adds a significant compounding effect to the investment’s overall performance, but if you just looked at the sheets that said it had a 4% return and a 2% dividend yield, you would be missing the most important part. Total return can be calculated for different kinds of investments or an entire portfolio, and is often done on an annual basis once all distributions have been made. Continue reading...

Hedge funds are private investment groups that attract high net worth individuals (and in some cases institutions), and use investment strategies that may be riskier than would be suitable for the average investor. While the name "hedge" implies that the fund serves a defensive purpose, today’s hedge funds use wide array strategies, and more often than not the goal is total return. The strategies used are often speculative, contrarian, or alternative compared to most investment options in say mutual funds or traditional long-only asset managers. Continue reading...

The price in today's dollars for an asset which will appreciate or depreciate to an amount which may be known at a specific date in the future. One simple example of Present Value is the amount that needs to be invested in order to grow to a specific amount later, if the rate of return and length of time are known. So if someone wanted to have $50,000 to buy a boat in 5 years, and they could get 5% on a guaranteed investment, they would need a lump sum investment of about $39,000 to get them there. Continue reading...

The assumed rate of return on an investment is an important consideration, especially since assuming a rate of return that is too high might cause the individual to under-invest. You should understand the difference between an assumed rate of return that is optimal and one that is going to give you the highest probability of reaching your goals. In a perfect world, your portfolio would average 15-20% per year, forever, but this is really not feasible. Continue reading...

The debt ratio measures a company’s total debt to total assets. It is the simplest calculation available for determining how indebted a company is on a relative basis. The debt ratio is crucial for determining a company’s financial standing, and should be considered by potential investors. To calculate the debt ratio, one only needs to divide total liabilities (i.e. long-term and short-term liabilities) by total assets. Continue reading...

Also called net operating margin, return on sales can indicate how well a company makes use of its sales revenue. By dividing Operating Profit by Net Sales, we can arrive at the Return on Sales. Essentially what we’ve done is broken down profits on a per sales basis. We can see what percentage of sales ends up as profit, or, on the other side of the coin, how much profit is generated per unit of sales. This can be useful for a comparison of companies of different sizes, because it excludes their assets, capital structures, taxes, and interest. Continue reading...

Return on Equity refers to the return on shareholder’s equity, which is like looking at the compounding effects of profits. Shareholder’s equity, in the standard accounting equation, is the amount of assets and retained earnings in a company over and above the company’s liabilities. Return on Equity is a ratio which divides the net income of a company by the total shareholder’s equity in a company, which is effectively looking at the profitability of the profits of a company. Continue reading...

Return on Investment (ROI) is a ratio used to compare the net income of a project or investment to the amount invested. Return on Investment is a ratio that can be applied in many contexts, and this makes it a very popular way to compare the cost and benefits of many types of investments, for individuals or businesses. It is often interpreted as a percentage, to express the total gain over and above the amount invested as a percentage of the original amount. Continue reading...

Lifetime cost is the total amount of money that a good will cost a consumer over the entire course of ownership. This included related, add-on costs such as maintenance, fuel, insurance and so on. These costs can dwarf the actual purchase price of the item. Lifetime cost is also known as total cost of ownership (TCO), and it is a budgetary way to look at the expenses that go along with the purchase of an item. Continue reading...

Return on Assets, or ROA, is an efficiency ratio which quantifies how much profit a company can generate with the assets it has. Return on Assets is a ratio of the net income of a company divided by the amount of assets it has on the books. It can also be synonymous with Return on Investment (ROI), at least at a corporate level. Theoretically this gives analysts an idea of how much profit a company could generate by buying more equipment or other assets, or how efficiently they use the assets in which they have invested. Comparing companies in a specific industry to their peers with ratios such as this one can be illuminating. Continue reading...

An accurate historical return calculation for an investment should be done with the dividends in mind, such as assuming all dividends were reinvested, which is the most common way they are used. Accurate historical information concerning prices and return should take the stock splits, dividends, and so-on into account. In a lesser-known context, dividend adjustment means a payment of accrued but yet-unpaid dividend amounts to the bearer of convertible preferred stock at the time that he or she converts them to shares of common stock. Continue reading...

Real rate of return is a notion that takes factors such as inflation and taxation into account before reporting a realized rate of interest on an investment. Economic theorist Irving Fisher first popularized the idea that there is a difference between a nominal interest rate and a real interest rate. Consider a bond that pays a steady coupon rate of 2% for the next 10 years. If inflation is more than 2%, the real rate of return on that investment is negative. If the investor got taxed on the nominal gains, the real rate of return is pushed further into negative territory. Continue reading...

Required Rate of Return is the return that investors will expect to earn on their money, given the risk and costs involved. Required Rate of Return is determined by the market for a particular security or asset at a given time. Issuers of fixed or variable coupon bonds must look at the rates offered by their peer institutions with similar credit ratings. Investors will require a certain rate of return if they are going to invest their money, and this is where the RRR gets its name. The calculations which help an issuer to arrive at the RRR will include the current risk-free rate (10 year treasury bond rate), liquidity, inflation, and so on. Continue reading...

Return on Net Assets is a calculation used to determine how well a company performs, relative to its resources. Return on Net Assets gives investors an idea of how well a company uses its resources to generate profits. Net assets includes not only fixed, tangible assets, but also the net working capital of a business. Working capital is defined as Current Assets minus the Current Liabilities of the business. The net profits for a period are divided by the net assets to arrive at the Return on Net Assets. Continue reading...

There are investments which have the potential for very high returns, but they will always be that much riskier than the lower-yielding alternatives, and this is part of the risk/return trade-off. The relationship between risk and return is a positive linear relationship in most theoretical depictions, and if an investor seeks greater returns, he or she will have to take on greater risk. This is called the risk/return trade-off. For more stability and less risk, an investor will have to sacrifice some potential returns. Continue reading...

For comparisons of the risk/return ratio of an investment, one must start with a benchmark of a risk-free rate of return in the current market. Since U.S. Treasury bills are backed by the full faith, credit, and taxing power of the U.S. Government, they are considered “riskless,” or as close to riskless as we can get. The current yield on a 10-year Treasury note is generally considered the risk-free rate of return. Continue reading...

Enterprise value is an amount that would have to be paid for a company to acquire all of its equity and debt. It is notable that cash and cash equivalents are left out of this equation since that amount is netted out of a cash purchase. The basic formula for enterprise value is market capitalization + debt obligations and any minority interests or preferred shares. This regularly appears in the numerator position in the EV/EBITDA ratio. Often investors can just look at the market capitalization of a company to get an estimation of the size of the company. Continue reading...

A company may reinvest earnings instead of paying out dividends. These earnings do not necessarily sit in a retained earnings account, but are used to improve the business and make it more profitable. This could even include paying off debt. Retained earnings is found in the Shareholder’s Equity portion of a company’s balance sheet. Despite the fact that earnings have not been dispensed to them in the form of dividends or share buybacks, shareholders will see the value of their stock appreciate when earnings are retained and used to grow the business. Continue reading...

Earnings power is mostly a concept that investors talk about rather than a quantifiable amount, but there is a Basic Earnings Power (BEP) ratio that some analysts use. BEP is the EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) of a company divided by its total assets (net assets), which is also called Return on Total Assets (ROTA). Earnings power is similar to the concept of staying power when most investors use it; a company that has had strong earnings and growth, and that seems to have the skill and resources to keep earnings up well into the future, is said to have earnings power. Continue reading...

Net Tangible Assets represent a company’s total amount of physical assets less its intangible assets, like intellectual property and equipment, and also less the fair market value of its liabilities. Tangible assets can include things such as cash, inventory, and accounts receivable, versus liabilities like accounts payable, long-term debt and loans. This measurement of a company's tangible assets is important because it allows a firm's management team to analyze its asset position without including obsolete or difficult to value intangible assets. A company's return on assets (ROA) can be more accurate when net tangible assets are used in the calculation. Continue reading...

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