Understanding ROIC: A Key Measure of Corporate Performance


Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) is a crucial financial metric that gauges the efficiency with which a company allocates its capital to generate profits. It is a measure of a company’s financial performance and a determinant of the long-term sustainability of its business model. This article will delve into what ROIC is, how it is calculated, and why it is an important metric for investors and analysts.

What is ROIC?

ROIC stands for “Return on Invested Capital.” It is a profitability ratio that measures the return that a company earns on the capital invested by its equity and debt investors. The capital referred to here includes both equity and debt, and the return is measured in terms of net operating profit after tax (NOPAT).

In essence, ROIC answers the question, “How much in returns is the company earning per dollar of invested capital?” A higher ROIC indicates that the company is efficient at turning capital into profits, which is a positive attribute of a quality business.

How to Calculate ROIC?

The formula to calculate ROIC is NOPAT divided by the average invested capital. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to calculate ROIC:

  1. Compute NOPAT (Net Operating Profit After Tax): NOPAT is the company’s operating profit after accounting for corporate taxes. It represents the profit a company would have made if it had no debt and no financial leverage. It is calculated as EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) multiplied by (1 – Tax Rate).
  2. Calculate Average Invested Capital: Invested capital represents the total amount of money that lenders and shareholders have invested in a company. It includes fixed assets and net working capital (NWC). Fixed assets are long-term tangible assets that a firm owns and uses in its operations to generate income, while NWC is the difference between a company’s current assets and current liabilities.
  3. Divide NOPAT by Invested Capital: The final step is to divide NOPAT by the average invested capital. The result is the ROIC.

Interpreting ROIC

ROIC is a measure of a company’s efficiency at allocating the capital under its control to profitable investments. A higher ROIC value typically indicates that a company is better at turning capital into profits.

One common way to use ROIC as an investment decision-making tool is to compare the investment’s ROIC to its weighted average cost of capital (WACC). If the ROIC is higher than the WACC, that means the company creates positive value. Conversely, if the ROIC is lower than the WACC, that means the company’s value is declining.

Why is ROIC Important?

ROIC is a key measure of a company’s profitability and growth potential. It provides investors and analysts with a tool to gauge the efficiency of a company’s capital allocation. Companies with a high ROIC are often considered superior investments because they are effectively using their capital to generate returns.

Moreover, ROIC is a good indicator of management effectiveness. A high ROIC can indicate that management is creating value by making sound capital allocation decisions, while a low ROIC may suggest the opposite.


Understanding ROIC is crucial for investors and analysts as it provides insights into a company’s efficiency at generating returns from its invested capital. A high ROIC is often a sign of a strong company with a sustainable business model. However, like all financial metrics, ROIC should not be used in isolation but should be considered alongside other financial ratios and indicators to get a comprehensive view of a company’s financial health and performance.

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