What is Absolute Returns ?

If you are making direct investments in various mutual funds or making the same through any portal/website. You could see in the mutual fund statements that a column states absolute return and a % is mentioned next to it.http://www.wealthcafe.in/understanding-a-mutual-fund/

Absolute return is the simplest return metric that is used to quantify how much gain or loss you have made from an investment. It simply tells you how much money you have made or lost as a percentage of the money you invested over a given period of time.

For example – you invested Rs. 100 in 2010 and it became 130 in 2012, your absolute return is 30% for 2 years. It is not a per annum return.

Absolute return is the actual return that you receive for the specific period i.e. from the start to the end.

If you invested INR 10,000 in October 2018 and currently, in Feb 2019, its value is 10,600. The absolute return is 6% on this investment.

Absolute Return = Current Saleable Value - Purchase Value / Purchase Value * 100

Absolute Returns are not used for mutual fund calculations until the investment period is less than one year. The returns can be very misleading. It is mostly used for real estate investments. You must have heard people say that they bought a house in 2000 for 30 lakhs and today in 2019 the value of that house is 1 crore. This is absolute returns of 235%

Why Absolute Returns are not favorable?

It is hard to compare 2 different investments return where the time periods vary: The scope of using absolute return metric to evaluate performance is limited as it does not take into account the time period of investment and its compounding effect. For example, if Fund A gave you 25% return over 2 years and Fund B gave you 25% returns over 1 year, both of them would rank the same if you take the absolute return metric when clearly, one fund has taken longer to deliver the same returns.

It does not allow comparison against various asset classes: Different asset classes returns are generally referred to differently. Real Estate and gold are generally discussed in absolute terms whereas fixed deposits and mutual funds are discussed in annualized returns.

Absolute Return gives a false impression of high worth: Further, because absolute figures are usually high, it gives a false impression of the worth of that investment compared to others. Take the real estate example. The investment in Bombay house which fetched a gain of Rs.70 lakhs does sound grand, and an absolute return of 235% sounds even better. But when we look at the same gains in CAGR terms, it works out to be a modest 6.54%.

Tip – Absolute returns are feel-good returns but they do not give the real gain scenario. In our view, you should always compute the annualized return or CAGR. Refer our Article on the same.

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