Guide to Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)

My Money Sorted

Updated on October 25, 2023

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For both investors and analysts, measuring a company’s performance is crucial in the fast-paced world of corporate finance.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore return on invested capital (ROIC) in detail, including what it means, how to calculate return and its impact on a company’s financial health.

Jump straight to…

What is Return on Invested Capital?

Return on invested capital (ROIC) is a key financial measure that assesses the efficiency and profitability of a company’s operations by measuring the returns generated in relation to the capital employed. 

It is derived from the company’s balance sheet and income statement where invested capital represents the total assets minus non-operating assets and working capital. It provides valuable insights into a company’s ability to create value for both debt and equity holders. 

ROIC is also a reliable indicator of how well a company utilises its capital to produce economic benefits. Return on invested capital (ROIC) is a useful tool for analysts, investors, and corporate leaders because it shows how efficiently a company uses its capital to generate returns.

Return on invested capital (ROIC) tells us the percentage of profit a business earns from its invested money. This is a key indicator of financial performance as it shows how effectively a business turns its resources into profits.

Is ROI the same as ROIC?

The Difference between Return on Investment and Return on Invested Capital

ROI and ROIC are frequently used to evaluate investment performance or determine the financial health of a company. Despite the fact that they may sound similar, these two metrics have different functions and provide different insights.

ROI, or return on investment, measures if an investment is worth it by looking at the profit compared to the cost

ROI specifically evaluates the profitability and efficiency of a company’s equity investments and its overall capital employed in its operations. It considers not only current assets but also financial assets, providing a comprehensive view of how effectively a company generates returns from all its invested capital.

On the other hand, ROIC, or return on invested capital, is a measure that shows how well a company uses its money to make profits. This percentage tells us if the company is making good use of its resources.

How is ROIC calculated?

ROIC calculation is determined using this ROIC formula:

ROIC Formula

Return on invested capital (ROIC) is calculated by dividing a company’s operating income, typically found in the company’s income statement, by its average invested capital. To calculate ROIC, net operating profit after tax (NOPAT) is divided by invested capital. 

Let us examine the elements of the ROIC formula in more detail:

Net Operating Profit After Tax (NOPAT)

The first element of the ROIC formula is the net operating profit after tax (NOPAT). It is the money a company makes from its main operations, without considering interest expenses from loans or extra income from cash and investments.

Invested Capital

The next element of the ROIC formula is the invested capital. It is the total amount of money raised by a company by issuing debt and equity capital.

There are various methods for calculating invested capital. To calculate invested capital, you use the invested capital formula, which takes into account a company’s net working capital and net fixed assets. 

One method is to subtract cash and to subtract current liabilities, such as tax obligations and accounts payable, from total company’s assets, provided that these are not subject to interest or fees.

Now, let us calculate Company X’s ROIC using the ROIC formula.

ROIC Calculation and ROIC formula

High versus Low ROIC

In the realm of financial analysis, the ROIC ratio emerges as a critical determinant of a company’s competitive advantage and future growth prospects

Return on invested capital (ROIC) is an important measurement of business potential. Businesses with high ROIC typically have top-notch goods and strong business models, signalling a strong ability to undertake profitable projects. 

They don’t need to invest a lot of money in order to increase their net income, leaving them with more money to spend or save. Because of this, even small increases in their sales can result in significant value being created. 

A strong company that generates a lot of value has a high ROIC. In the stock market, companies boasting a track record of superior ROIC are often seen as more reliable and profitable investments.

On the other hand, a low ROIC may raise concerns about a company’s ability to generate profits. Low ROIC businesses frequently struggle to find profitable ventures and may not generate returns on their investment. When a company’s ROIC is lower than what it costs to get that money, it means their way of doing business is not working well and needs fixing.

The company’s current performance will determine whether to concentrate on increasing ROIC or expanding. In the end, ROIC is more than just a set of numbers. In a challenging, cutthroat market, it enables businesses to make wise decisions and satisfy their shareholders.

In order to interpret high versus low ROIC, consider the following example:

Company’s ROIC Sample

Company A’s ROIC is higher than that of Company B’s. There are a number of reasons why Company A may have a higher ROIC than Company B, including:

  • higher operating profits, 
  • a more effective capital structure, or 
  • being in a higher-margin sector. 

Company A generates profits more from its capital invested than Company B.

Why is ROIC a good measure?

Return on invested capital (ROIC) stands as a critical metric that holds great significance for investors. Its importance stems from several key reasons. 

Firstly, ROIC serves as the ultimate yardstick for assessing a company’s profitability and performance as it takes into account both the capital invested and the returns generated, providing a comprehensive view of the company’s financial health. 

It also accounts for the capital raised through debt financing, equity financing, and even the impact of marketable securities or capital leases.

ROIC reveals the real value of a company by indicating that those with higher ROIC are capable of generating more free cash flow per earnings dollar, thus unveiling their intrinsic worth.

Furthermore, ROIC identifies firms as cash flow generators, especially those with high ROIC, as they can generate surplus cash that fuels growth without relying on external financing. 

This, in turn, results in less shareholder dilution, as these companies can expand and finance their operations without resorting to the potentially harmful issuance of debt or equity that dilutes existing shareholders’ stakes.

ROIC also allows investors to gauge how effectively a company utilises its capital, reflecting the quality of its management. 

Additionally, it offers a means of easy comparison, enabling investors to evaluate and contrast companies with varying debt levels or operating in different industries on a level playing field.

ROIC emerges as a powerful and multifaceted metric, offering investors valuable insights into a company’s value, cash flow generation, operational efficiency, and facilitating meaningful comparisons across different companies and sectors.

What is a good return on invested capital?

The return on invested capital (ROIC) percentage is not a one-size-fits-all metric. Its ideal value depends on the specific industry and various contextual elements, making ROIC a performance ratio that requires contextual evaluation. 

Nonetheless, in broad terms, a ROIC exceeding 10% is usually seen as a robust financial ratio and performance indicator. 

When a company’s ROIC surpasses its weighted average cost of capital (WACC), it indicates that the company is generating value, and such firms tend to command higher market valuations.

What is Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC)

Typically, a return that is more than 2% above the cost of capital is a common benchmark to demonstrate effective value creation. 

This means that if a company’s cost of capital is, say, 8%, then a ROIC of 10% or higher would be seen as a positive sign of value generation.

What is the difference between ROIC and ROE?

Two financial metrics, return on invested capital (ROIC) and return on equity (ROE), are crucial for evaluating a company’s financial performance and its capacity to produce returns for its stakeholders. 

They each focus on different facets of a company’s financial health, even though they both offer useful insights into a business’ profitability and capital efficiency. 

ROIC provides a more comprehensive view by considering net working capital, long-term debt, and non-operating assets. 

In contrast, ROE focuses solely on equity by subtracting current liabilities from a company’s assets.

Return on Invested Capital versus Return on Equity


ROIC is a more reliable indicator of a company’s profitability compared to ROE. It assesses the effectiveness of all the capital employed by a company, including borrowed funds, while ROE focuses solely on the company’s own investments.

ROIC is less sensitive to the impact of loans than ROE since it evaluates the overall performance of a company’s capital, regardless of its source.

ROIC provides a more trustworthy gauge of a company’s consistent money-making ability, as it is less susceptible to manipulation. ROE, on the other hand, can be influenced by how a company manages its finances and debts.

For these reasons, when evaluating companies, investors typically find ROIC to be a more crucial metric to consider.


Return on equity (ROE) holds its own specific purposes that can provide valuable insights. It serves as a useful tool for assessing and contrasting the profitability of companies operating within the same industry, as they often share similar capital structures and market dynamics.

Another significant use of ROE is in identifying high dividend yield opportunities. There tends to be a correlation between ROE and dividend yields, with companies boasting high ROE figures generally generating substantial cash flows. This surplus cash can be distributed to shareholders in the form of dividends, making ROE a valuable indicator for income-seeking investors.

Furthermore, ROE plays a crucial role in assessing the impact of management decisions on a company’s profitability. For instance, when there is a noticeable improvement in ROE following a change in leadership, it suggests effective and positive management decisions that have enhanced the company’s overall profitability.

However, it’s important to emphasise that relying solely on ROE may not provide a comprehensive picture. When making informed investment decisions, it is essential for investors to consider a broader spectrum of factors. 

These should include metrics like ROIC, which offers insights into the efficiency of capital utilisation, the overall financial strength of the company, and its potential for sustainable growth. 

By considering these multiple facets, investors can make more well-rounded and informed choices when evaluating companies for investment opportunities.

Find the Right Financial Advice for You with the Help of the My Money Sorted team.

ROIC can be the difference between making wise investment decisions and stumbling in the dark. 

Whether you’re an investor looking to maximise your returns, an analyst seeking deeper insights into a company’s financial health, or a corporate leader striving for optimal capital utilisation, ROIC is your guiding light.

Don’t let this valuable information go to waste. It’s time to take action and harness the power of ROIC in your financial endeavours. 

Reach out to a financial expert, a money guru who can provide personalised guidance on how to leverage ROIC for your benefit.

At My Money Sorted, we can help you identify high ROIC companies with strong potential for growth, guide you on optimising your investments, and assist in navigating the intricate world of corporate finance. 

With our knowledge and experience, you can make informed decisions that lead to financial success. Don’t delay. 

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