Average Return


DEFINITION of 'Average Return'

The simple mathematical average of a series of returns generated over a period of time. An average return is calculated the same way a simple average is calculated for any set of numbers; the numbers are added together into a single sum, and then the sum is divided by the count of the numbers in the set.

BREAKING DOWN 'Average Return'

For example, suppose an investment had returned the following annual returns over a period of five full years: 10%, 15%, 10%, 0% and 5%. To calculate the average return for the investment over this five-year period, the five annual returns would be added together and then divided by five. This produces an annual average return of 8%.

To learn more about average return, check out Why is the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) misleading when assessing long-term growth rates?​


  1. Sacred Cow

    A firmly held mainstream belief that is considered to be true ...
  2. Compound Net Annual Rate - CNAR

    The return on an investment after taking tax implications into ...
  3. Neoclassical Growth Theory

    An economic theory that outlines how a steady economic growth ...
  4. Annual Return

    The return an investment provides over a period of time, expressed ...
  5. Average Annual Return - AAR

    A percentage figure used when reporting the historical return, ...
  6. Actual Return

    The actual gain or loss of an investor. This can be expressed ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    Overcoming Compounding's Dark Side

    Understanding how money is made and lost over time can help you improve your returns.
  2. Bonds & Fixed Income

    Find The Highest Returns With The Sharpe Ratio

    Learn how to follow the efficient frontier to increase your chances of successful investing.
  3. Forex Education

    Compound Annual Growth Rate: What You Should Know

    The CAGR is a good and valuable tool to evaluate investment options, but it does not tell the whole story.
  4. Investing

    What a Family Tradition Taught Me About Investing

    We share some lessons from friends and family on saving money and planning for retirement.
  5. Professionals

    4 Must Watch Films and Documentaries for Accountants

    Learn how these must-watch movies for accountants teach about the importance of ethics in a world driven by greed and financial power.
  6. Active Trading

    An Introduction To Depreciation

    Companies make choices and assumptions in calculating depreciation, and you need to know how these affect the bottom line.
  7. Fundamental Analysis

    Using Decision Trees In Finance

    A decision tree provides a comprehensive framework to review the alternative scenarios and consequences a decision may lead to.
  8. Economics

    Understanding Tragedy of the Commons

    The tragedy of the commons describes an economic problem in which individuals try to reap the greatest benefits from a given resource.
  9. Fundamental Analysis

    Return on Investment (ROI) Vs. Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

    Read about the similarities and differences between an investment's internal rate of return (IRR) and its return on investment (ROI).
  10. Markets

    Operating Cash Flow: Better Than Net Income?

    Differences between accrual accounting and cash flows show why net income is easier to manipulate.
  1. Can working capital be depreciated?

    Working capital as current assets cannot be depreciated the way long-term, fixed assets are. In accounting, depreciation ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do working capital funds expire?

    While working capital funds do not expire, the working capital figure does change over time. This is because it is calculated ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How much working capital does a small business need?

    The amount of working capital a small business needs to run smoothly depends largely on the type of business, its operating ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What does high working capital say about a company's financial prospects?

    If a company has high working capital, it has more than enough liquid funds to meet its short-term obligations. Working capital, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can working capital affect a company's finances?

    Working capital, or total current assets minus total current liabilities, can affect a company's longer-term investment effectiveness ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What can working capital be used for?

    Working capital is used to cover all of a company's short-term expenses, including inventory, payments on short-term debt ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center