CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate)

by Investing School on July 7, 2009

Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is one of those investing terms that no one ever understands until you give a simple example. It’s funny because the explanation undermines the simplicity of the calculation of the growth rate in question.

Quite simply, CAGR is the the fixed rate of return that will give you the exact same growth of the investment in question. Let me give you an example:

A portfolio with $1,000 becomes $1,200 by year one, $1,500 by year two, and $2,500 by year three. The CAGR is simply 0.3572, or in other words, the portfolio enjoyed a 35.72% return annually.

Here’s the formula so you can calculate CAGR yourself.

CAGR = ((ending value / beginning value) ^ 1/compound period)) – 1

Where CAGR is Used

This growth rate is used often when comparing growth of two elements because this measure reduces the effects of volatility. It is also used in business to report on a specific part of its operations, like revenue, subscriber growth etc.

What This Means to Us

With this information, you can easily compare two different investments’ historic returns. Also, it is a neat tool to use in calculating your own portfolio returns to see how fast it’s growing.

In your own investment portfolio, remember though that you have most likely made deposits or withdrawal. Therefore, don’t be alarmed when you see a 80% CAGR and do not falsely believe in your investment genius!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nachi July 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I think the correct CAGR formula is

CAGR = ((ending value / beginning value) ^ (1/compound period)) – 1


Investing School July 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Good catch 🙂 It’s been fixed and thanks for pointing it out!


gary July 23, 2009 at 6:44 am

is the compound period in months or years?


Investing School July 23, 2009 at 7:04 am

CAGR is an annual rate so the period is in years.


Gregg Davis November 28, 2010 at 5:06 am

How do you calculate the section of the equation which reads (1/compounding periods (# years). If you have years – do you need financial calculator – can it be done easily in EXCEL or…


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