For All Things Accounting.

Return on assets

Checked for updates, April 2022.

What is Return on Assets?

Return on assets (ROA) is a profitability ratio that measures the rate of return on resources owned by a business. It is one of the different variations of return on investment (ROI). It measures the level of net income generated by a company’s assets.

Return on Assets Formula

The return on assets is a cross-financial statement ratio. It makes use of “net income” derived from the income statement and “total assets” obtained from the balance sheet.

The formula for return on assets is:

Net Income ÷ Average total assets

Take note that it is better to use average total assets instead of simply total assets. This is because the net income represents activity for a period of time; however, total assets is measured as of a certain date. To somehow fix this mismatch, the average of the beginning and ending balance of total assets is used.


Company A
  2021   2020
Net income (from income statement) 8.3 million   5.6 million
Total assets (from balance sheet) 90 million   80 million
Company B
  2021   2020
Net income (from income statement) 5.7 million   3.6 million
Total assets (from balance sheet) 45 million   30 million
Return on assets = Net income
    Average total assets
Company A = 8.3
    (90 + 80) ÷ 2
  = 9.8%
Company B = 5.7
    (45 + 30) ÷ 2
  = 15.2%

Interpreting the Return on Assets

Assuming that the companies operate in the same industry and economic environment, it can be concluded that Company B did better in managing its resources to generate profits.

Just like other variations of rate of return, the higher the return on assets the better. A high return on assets means than the business was able to utilize its resources well in generating income. It is also noteworthy to mention that this ratio removes the effect of company size. As illustrated in the example above, even if Company A generated 8.3 million and Company B generated 5.7 million only, Company B was more efficient since it made more income for each dollar of its assets. Also, the return on assets becomes more useful when it is compared to the industry average or other benchmarks such as historical performance or a target return.

Key Takeaways

Return on assets (ROA)

  • a measure of a company's ability to generate profit, computed as: net income divided by average total assets
  • total assets is the sum of current and non-current assets, or can also be computed as total liabilities plus total capital (or equity)
  • generally, the higher the ROA, the better; but it should be compared to a benchmark to provide better insights
Like and share!
Web link
APA format
Return on assets (2022). Accountingverse.
Next Lesson
Previous Lesson
Chapter Outline
> <
A c c o u n t i n g v e r s e
Your Online Resource For All Things Accounting
Based on international financial reporting standards,
and with references to US or local GAAP as needed
Copyright © 2010-2022