What is Yield? Definition, Calculation & Why it Matters

Published on
September 15, 2023

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In the world of finance, the term "yield" is frequently used, but what does it really mean? Let's delve into its definition, how it's calculated, and provide some practical examples.

Definition of Yield

Yield represents the income an investment generates over a specific period of time. It's the interest or dividends earned by the investment, divided by the value of the investment itself. Typically, it's expressed as an annual percentage. Importantly, yield excludes capital gains, which are profits earned from buying an asset at one price and selling it at a higher price.

In simpler terms, yield is a measure of the cash flow an investor receives on the money they've invested in a security. It's a major decision-making tool for both companies and investors, indicating how much a company pays in dividends or interest to its investors relative to the security's price.

Yield = Net Realized Return / Principal Amount

For example, let's say you purchase 100 shares of a company for $50 each (i.e. $5,000 total). Each quarter, the company pays a dividend of 50 cents per share. Over a year, you would receive $200 in dividend income (50 cents x 4 quarters = $2 x 100 shares). In this scenario, the yield calculation would be:

$200/$5000 = 0.04 or 4%

Types of Yield and Their Calculations  

There are several types of yield, each with its own nuances:

  1. Dividend Yield: This pertains to stocks. It's the amount of dividend income you can expect to receive from a stockholding, expressed as a percentage of the stock's value. For instance, a $1 annual dividend on a $50 stock yields 2.0%.
  2. Bond Yield: Bonds can have fixed or variable yields. Like stocks, the percentage reflects the income you can anticipate based on the value of your investment. The most straightforward way is to divide the annual interest a bond pays by the bond’s face value. For example, a $10,000 bond that pays $100 in annual interest yields 1.0%
  3. Rental Property Yield: The rental property yield, often referred to as the "capitalization rate" or "cap rate," is a measure of the annual return on a real estate investment property in relation to its purchase price. For example, if you purchase a rental property for $300,000 and its rental income is $3,000 per month and  monthly expense is $1,000. Then Net Income = $2,000 per month or $24,000 annually that gives a cap rate of $24,000/$300,000 or 8%  

Why Yield Matters

A higher yield often suggests that an investor can retrieve greater cash returns from their investments, which can augment income, and in certain scenarios potentially reduce risk. Nonetheless, it's crucial to grasp the underlying math. A surge in yield might stem from a declining market value of the asset, which, in turn, reduces the denominator in the yield formula, amplifying the yield percentage even if the asset's value is plummeting.

Many investors have a penchant for stock dividends, but monitoring yields is equally vital. Excessively high yields could hint at a depreciating stock price or overly generous dividend distributions by the company.

Dividends are sourced from a company's profits. Thus, increased dividend handouts might suggest burgeoning company earnings, potentially driving up stock prices. If stock prices and dividends both ascend, yields should either remain stable or increase slightly. Conversely, a notable yield spike without a corresponding rise in stock price might suggest that dividends are being distributed without a proportional increase in earnings, signaling potential problems with the company.

How Yield is Different from Return

Return considers both the capital gain (or loss) and any income (like dividends) received but Yield does not include capital gains in its calculation. Let us consider the same example above where you purchase 100 shares of a company for $50 each and the share price increases to $60 when you sell them one year later. In this scenario,

Total Return (in dollars) = Capital Gain + Total Annual Dividend = 100*($60 - $50) + $200 = $1,200

Return (as a percentage) = Total Return / Initial Investment×100  = $1200/$5000 = 0.24 or 24% (compared to Yield of 4%)


Understanding yield is essential for making informed investment decisions. Whether you're investing in real estate through platforms like Concreit or diving into the stock market, knowing how to calculate and interpret yield can hopefully guide you towards more profitable outcomes.

Remember, while yield provides insight into the income an investment might generate, it's just one piece of the puzzle. Always consider the broader financial landscape, your personal financial goals, and consult with financial advisors when making investment decisions.


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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