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How to calculate stock growth

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Key Points

  • Calculating stock growth rates is a key factor in making informed investment decisions.
  • Take different components of stock returns, such as dividends and taxes, into account when calculating linear or total return.
  • Investing requires research and an understanding of risk management to mitigate dangers.
  • 5 stocks we like better than Apple

Calculating stock growth rates isn't always easy and can seem intimidating, especially with all of the numbers and terminology getting thrown around. Every investor seems to have a preferred way of calculating that works for them to quickly and accurately determine how fast and by how much a stock is growing. 

But with the right tools and resources, any investor or financial analyst can understand and use the data to their advantage. In this article, we'll explore the various methods for how calculating stock growth rates and how you can use the information to make informed investment decisions.

How investing works 

Investing in the stock market is a common way to grow and diversify your financial portfolio. It can be a great way to increase your wealth, but it's important to understand how the stock market works before you dive in.

At its most basic level, when you buy or sell stocks, you purchase small pieces of ownership in companies listed on an exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or NASDAQ. 

The company will then use the money it receives from your purchase and those of other investors to fund new projects or expand its business. When they do this successfully, their share price will rise, and you can then make a profit if and when you sell the stock. 

Investing in stocks can yield high returns if you do it strategically; however, there is also a large element of risk associated with changes in market conditions and economic trends, which can quickly cause prices to drop dramatically.

What are stock growth rates?

Calculating growth rates is an essential tool when investing in the stock market. The growth rate of a stock is the percentage change in its value over time, which you can measure over different time periods such as a day, week, month, quarter or year. Several methods for calculating growth rates include using logarithmic returns or linear returns.

Overview of how to calculate stock growth infographic

The fundamentals of stock growth

Stock growth is a fundamental concept in the world of investing. At its core, stock growth refers to the increase in value that a stock experiences over a specific period. You can measure growth through various metrics, such as stock price appreciation, dividends and total return.

Stock price appreciation might be the most straightforward metric. It measures the increase in the market value of a stock over a given period. For example, if a stock's price increases from $50 to $60 per share over a year, the stock has experienced a growth rate of 20%.

Dividends, however, refer to the portion of a company's profits that it distributes to its shareholders. Some stocks provide regular dividend payments, which can contribute to the overall growth rate. You may consider both the stock price appreciation and dividends when calculating the growth rate of a stock.

Total return considers not only the capital appreciation and dividends but also any reinvested dividends or distributions. It provides a more comprehensive measure of the overall growth.

There's a close correlation between stock growth and your overall portfolio performance.

If a stock experiences high growth rates over a specific time period, it can contribute to the overall increase in the value of your portfolio. For example, let's say you have a diversified portfolio of various stocks from different sectors. If one of the stocks in their portfolio experiences significant growth, it can positively impact the performance of your entire portfolio. This is especially true if you substantially allocate that particular stock.

Key metrics for calculating stock growth

When calculating stock growth rates, there are several key metrics to look at. These metrics provide valuable insights into the company's profitability, potential for future growth and overall investment value. Let's delve into some of the most commonly used.

Price-to-earnings ratio (P/E)

The price-to-earnings ratio, often called P/E ratio, is used to evaluate a company's valuation. It compares the current market price of a stock to its earnings per share (EPS). By dividing the market price per share by the EPS, you can understand how much you pay for each dollar of earnings. A higher P/E ratio indicates that investors are willing to pay more for the company's future earnings potential, while a lower ratio may suggest that the stock is undervalued. For example, consider a hypothetical company called TechGen, a leading manufacturer of cutting-edge gadgets.

TechGen has been experiencing significant growth in recent years, but you want to understand the stock growth rates better. The P/E ratio for TechGen is currently at 30. This means investors are willing to pay $30 for every dollar of earnings per share. A high P/E ratio like this indicates investors have high expectations for TechGen's future profitability and growth potential.

But how can we calculate the stock growth rate based on the P/E ratio? We can't directly calculate it from the P/E ratio alone, but it provides valuable information about investor sentiment and expectations for future growth. We must consider other key metrics to get a clearer picture of TechGen's stock growth rate. One is the earnings per share (EPS).

Earnings per share (EPS)

EPS reflects a company's profitability. You can calculate the company's net income by the number of outstanding shares. EPS provides insight into how much profit a company generates per share; higher EPS is generally considered a good sign. 

Let's say TechGen's EPS is $2. This means that for every share of TechGen stock, the company is earning $2 in profit. Using this, you can calculate the projected stock growth rate by comparing the current EPS with the historical EPS. By analyzing the trend of EPS growth over time, you can gain insight into the company's ability to generate consistent profits and predict its future growth.

Dividend yield

Dividend yield measures the return you can expect from owning a stock that pays dividends. You can calculate it by dividing the annual dividend per share by the stock price. Dividend yield is expressed as a percentage, and you can use it to compare different stocks or assess the income they generate. 

Let's assume that TechGen pays an annual dividend of $1 per share, and its current stock price is $50. By dividing the dividend by the stock price, we can calculate TechGen's dividend yield is 2%. This means you can expect a 2% return on your investment through dividends alone.

Stock growth rate formula

You can measure stock growth through absolute return, the difference between the starting and ending stock prices, or by its percentage return, calculated by dividing the absolute return by the initial price. Using a stock growth calculator, you may also calculate the average growth rate between two points in time — quarterly or annually — using either linear or logarithmic methods. 

Linear returns are simpler to calculate and involve subtracting the beginning stock price from the ending stock price and dividing by the beginning stock price. This method provides a more straightforward measure of a stock's percentage growth over time.

Using logarithmic returns via an estimated stock growth calculator can provide a more accurate picture of a stock's overall growth over time and is often used by financial analysts. Unlike linear return scales, they show percentage points instead of dollar amounts. 

For a more accurate picture of the growth of your investment using a stock portfolio growth calculator, use the compound annual growth rate (CAGR), a metric used to measure the average rate of return for an investment over a specified time period. It considers the gains and losses during that period, showing how well your investments have grown.

Total returns require more complex calculations, as they also consider dividend payments and other market events that could affect the stock price. By understanding these calculations, you can make more informed decisions about when to buy or sell stocks to maximize your returns.

Factors to consider before you invest

Before investing in the stock market, be sure to consider several factors, such as:

  • Risk tolerance: Knowing your level of risk tolerance is important. Some investors prefer higher-risk investments with the potential for greater returns, while others prefer lower-risk investments with steady returns.
  • Investment goals: A clear investment goal will help you determine which stocks you should invest in and how long-term or short-term your investments should be.
  • Diversification: Diversifying your portfolio helps reduce the risks of certain stocks underperforming and allows you to spread out potential losses.
  • Research: Thoroughly research stocks you're interested in before making any investments. This includes reading reports and financial statements, following news related to the industry and understanding stock analysis tools such as earnings per share (EPS) and price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios. The P/E ratio measures the stock's current market price relative to earnings per share (EPS). Calculate it by dividing the current market price by the last 12 months of reported earnings. In other words, a stock with a P/E ratio of 20 would mean that the stock would trade at 20 times its earnings, meaning that investors are willing to pay 20 times the company's earnings for one share of the stock.
  • Timing: Timing can impact stock prices, so it's a good idea to monitor market conditions when buying or selling stocks.
  • Taxes: Investing in the stock market can have tax implications, so understand how this could affect your bottom line before diving into the market.

How to calculate stock growth 

Calculating stock growth can be useful to determine how well a stock has performed over time. You can measure absolute return, the difference between the beginning and ending stock prices, and then divide it by the beginning stock price. 

In addition, some investors may also calculate the average growth rate over a period — such as quarterly or annually — using either linear or logarithmic methods, including CAGR. 

Step 1: Determine beginning and ending prices.

First, you will need to determine the beginning and ending stock prices — that is, the prices of a particular stock at two different points in time. You can find it on MarketBeat or through data feeds from brokerages. 

Step 2: Calculate linear return.

Linear returns are simpler formulas and involve subtracting the beginning stock price (S1) from the ending price (S2), then dividing by S1, like this:

Linear return percentage = [(S2 - S1)/S1] x 100%

This method provides a more straightforward measure of a single period's percentage growth over time.

Step 3: Calculate CAGR. 

The CAGR is a metric used to measure the average rate of return for an investment over a specified time period. To calculate CAGR, you need to know the starting value of your investment, the ending value of your investment, and the number of years that have passed. 

The CAGR is a measure of the growth rate of an investment over years expressed as a single number. Calculate it by taking the nth root of the total return, with "n" being the years you held the investment. This can be useful for comparing investments with different periods and returns, as it allows you to compare apples to apples.

For example, if you invested in stock A for 10 years and earned a total return of 200%, that would be equivalent to 20% per year on average over those 10 years. However, if you had invested in Stock B for five years and earned a total return of 125%, that would be equivalent to 25% per year on average over those five years. While both investments saw similar total returns, they had very different CAGRs due to their differing holding periods.

Step 4: Consider additional factors. 

While the above formulas can provide insight into a stock's growth over a given period, consider additional factors that may impact a stock's performance when calculating your exact returns. For example, macroeconomic events, market volatility and company-specific news can send stocks up or down. Be sure also to consider the company's financial health and future prospects, including possible catalysts for growth or risks that may impact the stock price.

Another factor to consider is the company's dividend policy. If it pays dividends, this can provide additional income for you as an investor and impact your total returns over time. Some investors may even use technical analysis to identify trends or signals in a stock's price chart, which they then use to make buy and sell decisions. You can view this information at the top of a stock page on MarketBeat or by searching the site for news on a specific stock.

Step 5: Consider taxes.

Finally, remember to factor in taxes when calculating your total returns. Tax rates will vary depending on where you live, your tax bracket and the type of security you invest in.

Example of how to calculate stock growth 

The first step in calculating a stock's growth rate is gathering the necessary data. You'll need the beginning and ending prices of the stock, as well as any dividend payments it may have made during the period. You can find these figures on the appropriate stock page on MarketBeat. For example, we'll take Apple Inc. NASDAQ: AAPL. We can click on "charts" and put in our desired dates to see the stock price on those dates.

Next, use this data to calculate stock growth rate using the linear return method.

Linear returns are simpler to calculate and involve subtracting the beginning stock price (S1) from the ending price (S2), then dividing by S1.

Linear Return Percentage = [(S2 - S1)/S1] x 100%

For example, if you invested $1,000 in Apple stock on January 1, 2020, and sold your shares for $2,000 on December 31, 2020, then your linear return would be [(2,000-1,000)/1,000] x 100, or 100%.

Tools and resources for stock growth analysis

As you embark on your stock growth journey, equip yourself with the right tools and resources. These days, various online platforms and websites can aid you. Let's delve into some of them.

  • Stock screeners: A stock screener is an invaluable tool for filtering stocks based on specific criteria. It can include market capitalization, industry sector, dividend yield, price-to-earnings ratio, etc. MarketBeat offers a screener that enables you to narrow your search and find stocks that meet your criteria and can save you time and effort by providing you with a list of potential investments that align with your goals.
  • Financial news websites: Staying updated on the latest financial news helps you make informed decisions. MarketBeat provides comprehensive news coverage, including company-specific news, market trends and economic indicators. By staying informed, you can identify potential catalysts or risks impacting a given stock's growth and adjust your strategy as needed.
  • Analyst ratings and recommendations: Analyst ratings and recommendations can offer valuable insights into a stock's growth potential. Platforms like MarketBeat aggregate analyst ratings from various financial institutions and provide a consensus rating for a particular stock. It can give you an idea of how analysts view its future performance and whether they expect it to grow or decline in value.
  • Historical charts and technical analysis: Historical charts display a stock's price movement over time so you can identify trends and patterns. With technical analysis tools, such as moving averages and oscillators, you can analyze price patterns and predict future growth or potential reversals. MarketBeat offers interactive charts that allow you to overlay technical indicators onto stock price charts for deeper analysis.
  • Company reports and financial statements: Understanding a company's financial health is crucial when evaluating its growth potential. MarketBeat provides access to company reports and financial statements, allowing you to delve into key metrics such as revenue, earnings and cash flow. By analyzing these documents, you can gain insights into a company's profitability, debt levels, and overall financial stability. This information is essential for determining whether a stock has the potential for sustained growth.

In addition to these tools and resources, staying engaged with the broader market landscape is important. Monitoring macroeconomic factors such as interest rates, inflation, and geopolitical events can help you anticipate market trends that may impact stock performance. Additionally, keeping an eye on industry-specific news and developments can provide valuable information.

Risk management in stock growth strategies 

Stocks are inherently risky. If you aren't careful, fortunes can be made or lost with a single trade. Always balance the thrill of potential returns against the dangers.

You can use smart strategies to mitigate the risks. One such strategy is diversification, which means spreading investments across different sectors and asset classes. By diversifying your portfolio, you reduce your exposure to any single company or industry, thus minimizing the impact of adverse events.

Another important aspect of risk management is setting realistic expectations and understanding the stock market's volatility. Stock prices can fluctuate wildly in response to economic conditions, geopolitical events and investor sentiment. Be prepared for potential ups and downs, and don't let short-term market movements dictate your long-term investment strategy.

Stop-loss orders can also be a valuable tool in managing risk. A stop-loss order is a predetermined price for selling your shares. This way, you protect yourself from significant price downturns while allowing for gains if the stock continues to grow.

Industry-specific considerations

When analyzing stock growth, industry-specific factors play a key role. Economic trends, regulations and market conditions all impact the growth trajectory of stocks within an industry.

Economic trends influence stock performance most of all. For instance, during periods of economic growth, industries such as technology, consumer discretionary and healthcare often grow robustly. On the other hand, during downturns or recessions, industries like financials and energy may face challenges.

Regulations also play a vital role in shaping the stock growth of specific industries. Changes in regulations can either create opportunities or pose challenges for companies. For example, a new regulation promoting renewable energy sources could drive stock growth in the renewable energy sector, while stricter regulations on tobacco might hinder growth in that industry.

One industry where such factors heavily influence stock growth is the technology sector. Technological advancements, changing consumer preferences and market competition can propel your stocks to new heights or lead to their downfall. For instance, a shift towards e-commerce and digital payments has fueled the growth of technology companies like Amazon and PayPal. Or, think about the rise of electric vehicle companies. 

As governments worldwide push for sustainable transportation and investors opt for environmentally friendly options, electric vehicle stocks have experienced significant growth. On the other hand, companies in traditional fossil fuel industries have faced challenges as regulations tighten and consumer attitudes shift.

Understanding these industry-specific considerations can help you identify trends and make smart decisions about which sectors are poised for growth and which may face headwinds.

Once armed with this knowledge, you can opt for effective stock growth strategies that align with your risk tolerance and investment goals.

Stock growth rates: A key figure for investment success 

In this article, we explored the various methods for calculating a stock's growth rate and using the information to make informed investment decisions. However, calculating your return on a stock investment involves more than just looking at its price over time. 

You should also consider factors like dividends, taxes, and other market events that may affect the stock price. By understanding the different components of stock returns and learning how to calculate the growth rate of a stock, you can make more informed decisions about when to buy or sell shares to maximize your investments.

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Claire Shefchik
About The Author

Claire Shefchik

Contributing Author

Energy, Commodities

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Companies Mentioned in This Article

CompanyMarketRank™Current PricePrice ChangeDividend YieldP/E RatioConsensus RatingConsensus Price Target
Apple (AAPL)
4.5298 of 5 stars
$207.49-1.0%0.48%32.27Moderate Buy$209.38
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