Return on Invested Capital (ROIC): Calculation and Importance

1 minutes reading time
Published 20 Jun 2023
Reviewed by: Kasper Karlsson
Updated 29 Apr 2024

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) is a financial ratio that measures the profitability and efficiency of a company's capital investments. It provides insights into how effectively a company utilizes its invested capital to generate returns. In this article, we will explore the concept of ROIC, its calculation, explain the components included in invested capital, and compare ROIC to Return on Equity (ROE).

Key Insights:

  • Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) measures the profitability and efficiency of a company's capital investments, indicating how effectively it generates returns from invested capital.

  • ROIC is calculated by dividing Net Operating Profit after Taxes (NOPAT) by invested capital, which includes equity capital and interest bearing debt on the liabilities side, less cash and cash equivalents on the asset side.

  • Understanding ROIC helps assess profitability, make informed capital allocation decisions, and evaluate financial strategies.

What is Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)?

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) is a financial ratio that assesses the profitability of a company's capital investments by comparing the net operating profit after taxes (NOPAT) to the invested capital. It measures how efficiently the company generates profits from the capital invested in its operations. ROIC is calculated by dividing the net operating profit after taxes (NOPAT) by the invested capital. The formula for ROIC is as follows:

ROIC = Net Operating Profit after Taxes (NOPAT) / Invested Capital

NOPAT represents the company's operating profit adjusted for taxes. It is calculated by subtracting taxes from the operating profit. NOPAT is derived from the company's income statement and tax information.

Invested capital represents the cumulative amount the business has invested in its core operations, primarily property, plant and equipment and working capital. Invested capital is often calculated from the financing side of the balance sheet, where debt and equity are summed up, but the cash on the asset side are removed. By dividing NOPAT by invested capital and expressing it as a percentage, ROIC provides insights into the company's profitability relative to the capital invested.

Quick Insights About ROIC

  • ROIC is primarily driven by competitive advantages that drive price premiums or cost and capital efficiencies.

  • The median ROIC in the U.S. was around 10 percent from 1963 to 2000, but was up to 16 percent 2013. ROIC without Goodwill has increased over time, but including goodwill in invested capital will show that ROIC is quite stable, meaning companies have not been able to extract much value from their acquisitions.

  • ROIC differs by industry. Software, pharmaceuticals, IT services, tech hardware, healthcare equipment, electrical equipment, aerospace, defense and consumer staples have had high ROIC historically, whereas utilities, paper and forest, airlines, roads, telecom, oil and gas, metals and mining, and household durables have delivered much worse profitability.

  • ROIC is often quite widely dispersed among companies.

  • Looking at individual companies, ROIC is often very stable over time. For example, among companies in the U.S. that had ROIC above 25% in 2003, 83% delivered above 25% ROIC 10 years later in 2013.

Main difference between ROIC and ROE

ROIC and ROE are both financial ratios used to measure a company's profitability and efficiency. However, they focus on different aspects of a company's financial performance.

ROIC measures the profitability and efficiency of a company's total invested capital less cash on the balance sheet, including both equity and debt. It provides insights into how effectively the company generates returns from the total capital invested.

ROE specifically measures the profitability and efficiency of a company's equity capital. It assesses the returns generated for shareholders relative to their investment in the company.

While ROIC considers the overall capital structure and assesses the profitability of both equity and debt capital, ROE focuses solely on the returns generated for equity shareholders.

Why is ROE often higher than ROIC?

The primary reason for this is that ROE only considers the equity portion of a company's capital structure. Therefore, if a company uses debt financing, it amplifies ROE and the returns to equity holders. ROIC, on the other hand, accounts for both debt and equity in the denominator. The denominator for ROIC is therefore generally larger, especially in companies with substantial debt, which often causes ROE to be higher than ROIC.

In Conclusion

Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) is a valuable financial metric that measures a company's profitability and efficiency in generating returns from its capital investments. By considering both equity and debt, ROIC provides insights into the company's ability to utilize its total invested capital effectively. Comparing ROIC to Return on Equity (ROE) helps evaluate the impact of leverage on returns. Understanding ROIC allows businesses and investors to assess profitability, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about capital allocation and financial strategies.

Why are finance professionals around the world choosing Quartr Pro?

With a broad global customer base spanning from equity analysts, portfolio managers, to IR departments, the reasons naturally vary, but here are four that we often hear:

Increase productivity

Eliminate hours of searching for specific data points buried deep inside company material.

Get a one-stop-shop solution

Everything you need for qualitative public market research in one single platform.

Uncover rare insights

Understand the qualitative aspects of entire industries or specific companies.

Leverage the power of AI

Incorporate AI functionality into your daily workflow.