ROI vs IRR: What’s the Difference?

Published on
October 10, 2022

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Investors have a lot of ways to analyze an investment, but the two most popular are ROI vs. IRR. Of course, return on investment is a more popular calculation, but the IRR calculation has its benefits too.

Here are a few ways to tell the difference between the two metrics and determine which is right for you.

Return on Investment (ROI) vs Internal Rate of Return (IRR): How They Are Different

Overall, return on investment is expressed as a percentage and determines the percentage increase or loss on an investment. The IRR calculates the net present value (NPV) of the future cash flows and requires you to know the initial investment amount plus future cash flows.

When comparing ROI vs IRR, there are certain differences you should consider.

The return on investment calculates an investment's actual performance. It uses figures from the amount the asset was bought and sold. IRR, however, calculates the discount rate that makes up the difference between the current investment and the future values if the net present value is set to zero.

The IRR calculation uses the time value of money before you invest. The ROI tells the growth rate of an investment after you invest.

The IRR calculations rely heavily on accurate financial projections. Therefore, the IRR could be inaccurate if you miss judging the potential income.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Return on investment is the most popular financial metric used when measuring an investment's performance.

What Is ROI?

Return on investment or rate of return is the percentage growth (or loss) over a specific period. You can use it over any period, but it works best as an annual metric. In short, it's the difference between the investment's value when you bought and sold it. You can also use it to determine an investment's past performance when deciding if you should invest.

ROI Calculation Formula

It's easy to calculate the rate of return formula. But, first, take the difference between the final value and the original value, divide that number by the original value, and multiply by 100.

Here's an ROI example.

If you bought $1,000 worth of a specific stock and sold them for $1,500, your ROI is:

$1,500 - $1,000 = $500

$500/$1,000 = 0.5

0.5 x 100 = 50% rate of return on investment

Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

So, what is internal rate of return? The internal rate of return or IRR is more complicated and less popular than ROI, but all investors should know as many metrics as possible when comparing investments.

What Is IRR?

Investors use IRR to calculate the return on investments before investing. In other words, looking at the IRR definition, it's a way to predict an investment's expected gains to determine if it's a good choice. Most investors use it when they have multiple investment options and can't determine which would be the best use of their capital.

IRR includes the future value of money and requires more accurate information to provide useful calculations. The IRR tells individual investors the expected rate of investment return. When they compare other options, they'll determine if the rate of return is higher or lower than other investments.

IRR Calculation Formula

The IRR formula is complicated. To calculate IRR, you'll need the initial investment amount plus the expected cash flows per year that you'll own the investment.

Here's how to calculate IRR using an internal rate of return formula:

The IRR formula helps you understand the present value of the projected income. It's like a reverse time value of money calculation.

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When to Use IRR vs ROI

As discussed above, the IRR projects income before investing in an asset. Conversely, the ROI calculates how an investment performs based on the value at the start and end of the investment period.

IRR is best for budgeting for potential investments, especially if you have to budget capital for a large project. On the other hand, ROI is best for looking at an investment's overall growth and profitability.

Who Uses IRR vs ROI

IRR isn't a financial metric most common investors use. Instead, financial analysts, portfolio managers, and institutional investors use it. So while a typical investor can use IRR to determine an investment's profitability and potential return, it's not common.

Investors of all levels, however, use return on investment. This is because it's much easier to calculate, and there's less estimating, as you use actual numbers to determine ROI.

Why Investors Use Both ROI and IRR

Using both ROI and IRR gives investors a better look at the big picture. ROI is a quick and easy calculation anyone can determine in a few seconds. IRR is more complicated but helps you understand an investment's long-term possibilities.

You can use ROI and IRR to determine an investment's past performance and assess its current and future cash flows.

Return On Investments FAQs

How Do You Convert ROI to IRR?

IRR and ROI are two different calculations that use different information. ROI uses all cash flows already received at the investment's end. IRR uses future cash flows or predictions to calculate the IRR. The IRR shows the value of each cash flow based on when it's received and provides an average over the investment.

What Is a Good IRR Rate?

Like all financial metrics, each investor has different risk tolerances, timelines, and financial goals. For example, for some investors, a 10% IRR may be suitable, yet other, more risky investors may prefer an IRR of 20% or higher.

How Do You Calculate IRR Manually?

It isn't easy to calculate the IRR manually. Your best bet is to use a spreadsheet or financial calculator to calculate it. To determine an investment's IRR, you'll need the initial investment plus the expected cash flows for each year you hold the investment. For example, if you have a particular investment for five years, you must know the predicted cash flows for each year, plus the final expected price you'll sell it for.

How to Find Internal Rate of Return?

To find the internal rate of return, you must know how much you're investing upfront and how much the investment will earn each year. For example, suppose you're buying an investment property. In that case, you'd use the amount invested upfront, plus the rental income and any supplemental income earned for the period you plan to own the home.

How Do You Calculate Annualized Return in Excel?

To calculate the annualized rate of return in Excel, you'll enter the following formula:

(Ending value / Starting value) ^ (1 / Number of years) -1.

What Is a Good Annual Rate of Return?

Because each investor has different goals, there isn't a one-size-fits-all reasonable annual rate of return. The average is 7% because that's approximately what investors earn long-term in the stock market. However, some investors prefer a higher ROI and will take more risks to get it.

ROI vs IRR - The Bottom Line

When comparing ROI vs IRR, the return on investment is the most common option (and the easiest). However, the IRR can tell you whether an investment is a good use of your money now or if there are better uses for your money based on the expected performance and returns. Explore more by signing up and visiting our blog.



This information is educational, and is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security which can only be made through official documents such as a private placement memorandum or a prospectus. This information is not a recommendation to buy, hold, or sell an investment or financial product, or take any action. This information is neither individualized nor a research report, and must not serve as the basis for any investment decision. All investments involve risk, including the possible loss of capital. Past performance does not guarantee future results or returns. Neither Concreit nor any of its affiliates provides tax advice or investment recommendations and do not represent in any manner that the outcomes described herein or on the Site will result in any particular investment or tax consequence.Before making decisions with legal, tax, or accounting effects, you should consult appropriate professionals. Information is from sources deemed reliable on the date of publication, but Concreit does not guarantee its accuracy.

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