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  • Writer's pictureSANJANA JEVRANI

What Is CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate)?

Updated: Apr 19


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Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is like looking at how something grows each year on average while considering how the growth from previous years adds up and affects the current value. So, CAGR helps give a clearer picture of growth over time, especially when that growth isn't steady from year to year.


What does CAGR mean?


Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is a way to measure the average annual growth rate of something over a specific period. It takes into account the effect of compounding, which means that growth builds on previous growth.


CAGR gives you a smooth rate of growth over time, even if the growth rate fluctuates year by year. It's commonly used in finance and investing to understand how an investment or business has grown over time.


 

How is the CAGR calculated?


Imagine you invested some money in something, like a business or stocks, and you want to know how much it grew each year on average. That's where CAGR comes in.

Here's how you find it:


  1. Take the final value of your investment (how much it's worth now) and divide it by the initial value (how much you started with).

  2. Then, take that result and raise it to the power of 1 divided by the number of years.

  3. After that, subtract 1 from the result.

  4. Finally, multiply that by 100 to turn it into a percentage.

That final number is your compound annual growth rate (CAGR).


 

Why is CAGR important in finance?


  1. Comparison Tool: CAGR helps compare different investments or business performances over time.

  2. Average Growth Rate: It provides a clear average annual growth rate, considering the compounding effect.

  3. Decision Making: It assists in making informed decisions about where to invest money or how a business is performing relative to others.

  4. Long-term Performance: CAGR focuses on long-term performance, giving a more comprehensive view compared to short-term fluctuations.

  5. Standardized Metric: It offers a standardized metric that is widely used and understood in the financial world, making it easier to communicate and analyze investment performance.


 

What is the difference between CAGR and annual growth rate?

Aspect

CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate)

Annual Growth Rate

Calculation

Takes into account compounding effects over time.

The measures growth rate on a year-to-year basis without considering compounding.

Focus

Provides a single, average growth rate over a specific period.

Shows growth rate for each year within the period.

Representation

Represents the constant annual growth rate needed to reach the final value from the initial value.

Represents the growth rate for each year separately.

Application

Used for analyzing long-term investment or business growth.

Suitable for analyzing short-term trends or fluctuations.

Example

If an investment grows by 10% annually for 5 years, the CAGR would be around 10%.

If an investment grows by 10% in year 1, 8% in year 2, and 12% in year 3, the annual growth rates for each year are 10%, 8%, and 12%, respectively.

 

What are some real-world examples of CAGR?


  1. Stock Market Performance: CAGR helps understand how much a stock or stock index has grown on average each year over a specific period.

  2. Revenue Growth for Companies: Companies use CAGR to show investors how their revenue has grown consistently over time.

  3. Economic Indicators: CAGR can analyze economic indicators like GDP growth or inflation rates to understand their average annual change.

  4. Real Estate Investments: CAGR helps investors understand the average annual growth rate of property values over time.

  5. Mutual Funds and ETFs: Investors use CAGR to compare the historical performance of different investment options like mutual funds and ETFs.

  6. Business Expansion: CAGR is used to analyze the growth rate of a company's expansions into new markets or product lines over time.


 

Are there any drawbacks to using CAGR for analysis?


Imagine you're on a road trip, and your GPS tells you the average speed of your journey. However, this average speed doesn't tell you about the traffic jams, detours, or sudden acceleration and breaking you experienced along the way.


Similarly, CAGR gives you an average growth rate over a period, but it doesn't capture the ups and downs, volatility, or changes within that time frame. So, while it's a useful tool, it might miss some important details about the journey.


 

Conclusion


While CAGR is a handy tool for understanding the average growth rate of an investment

or business over time, it's essential to remember that it doesn't paint the whole picture.

Just like how a single snapshot can't capture the entire scenery of a beautiful landscape, CAGR might overlook the bumps, twists, and turns that happened along the way. So, while it's a helpful guide, it's wise to consider other factors and contexts to get a complete understanding of the journey of growth.



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