Required Rate of Return
Required Rate of Return

See Also:
Valuation Methods
Arbitrage Pricing Theory
Capital Budgeting Methods
Discount Rates NPV
Internal Rate of Return Method

Required Rate of Return

The required rate of return, defined as the minimum return the investor will accept for a particular investment, is a pivotal concept to evaluating any investment. It is supposed to compensate the investor for the riskiness of the investment. If the expected return of an investment does not meet or exceed the required rate of return, the investor will not invest. The required rate of return is also called the hurdle rate of return.

Required Rate of Return Explanation

Required rate of return, explained simply, is the key to understanding any investment. This essentially requires determining the investor’s cost of capital. The investment will be attractive as long as the expected returns on the project or investment exceed the cost of capital. The cost of capital can be the cost of debt, the cost of equity, or a combination of both.
If the investor is a company considering the required rate of return on a corporate project, then calculating the cost of debt is simple. It is the interest rates on the company’s debt obligations. If the company has numerous differing debt obligations, then use the weighted average of those interest rates to find the cost of debt.
Calculating the cost of equity can be done using the capital asset pricing model (CAPM). Estimate this by finding the cost of equity of projects or investments with similar risk. Like with the cost of debt, if the company has more than one source of equity – such as common stock and preferred stock – then the cost of equity will be a weighted average of the different return rates.

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Required Rate of Return Formula

The core required rate of return formula is:

Required rate of return = Risk-Free rate + Risk Coefficient(Expected Return – Risk-Free rate)

Required Rate of Return Calculation

The calculations appear more complicated than they actually are. Using the formula above. See how we calculated it below:

Required rate of Return = .07 + 1.2($100,000 – .07) = $119,999.99


Risk-Free rate = 7%
Risk Coefficient = 1.2
Expected Return = $100,000

Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC)

Combining the cost of equity and the cost of debt in a weighted average will give you the company’s weighted average cost of capital, or WACC. Consider this rate to be the required rate of return, or the hurdle rate of return, that the proposed project’s return must exceed in order for the company to consider it a viable investment.

Required Rate of Return for Investments

In terms of investments, like stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments, the required rate of return refers to the necessary expected return on the investment needed by the investor in order for him to consider investing. This rate can be based on investments with similar risk, or it can be the rate of the investor’s next best alternative investment opportunity.
For example, if an investor has his money in a savings account earning 5% annual interest, and he is considering investing in a risk-free treasury bond, then he might say the return on assets for such an investment is 5%. The treasury bond must yield more than 5% per year for the investor to consider taking his money out of the savings account and investing it in the bond. In this case, the investor’s required rate of return would be 5%.

Required Rate of Return Example

For example, Joey works for himself as a professional stock investor. Because he is highly analytical, this work perfectly fits him. Joey prides himself on his ability to evaluate where the market is and where it will be.
Joey knows his next investment option is high-stakes and risky. He wants to know his required rate of return on equity for a stock he is thinking about investing in. Joey performs the calculation below to find his answer:
Required Rate of Return = .07 + 1.2($100,000 – .07) = $119,999.99
Risk-Free rate = 7%
Risk Coefficient = 1.2
Expected Return = $100,000
Joey decides that his investment is not a good decision because his required rate of return is quite high. He resolves to find less risky decisions in order to protect the success he has already created. Without calculating his required rate of return on stock Joey could have ruined everything that he has created so far. Joey uses this experience to humble himself as he moves forward.
Managing your investments can be overwhelming and difficult to do, but it’s an important part of being a successful CFO. To learn other ways to add value to your company, download the free 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs to find out how you can become a more valuable financial leader.
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