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Stock Return Definition, Calculation and Quiz

The intricacies of the calculation of return on a stock are often overlooked.
  1. Define - Learn the stock return calculation.
  2. Context - Use stock return in a sentence.
  3. Quiz - Test yourself.
face pic by Paul Alan Davis, CFA
Updated: February 18, 2021
Review the information below and our popular tutorial to calculate return accurately.

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How to Calculate Stock Returns


Stock Return is the calculation of percent rate of return over a measurement period. The calculation requires several inputs, share price gains or losses; corporate actions like splits and spin-offs; and finally returns of capital in the form of special and regular dividends.

Synonym: total return

Like any investment return actually, the formula includes all forms of return into the ending value, then divide that by the beginning value and subtract one.

So as an example, a stock that started at $10.00 and ended at $10.40 and paid a $0.10 dividend had a return of 5.00% for the period.

For context, in most cases calculating a rate of return for a stock seems like it would be rather straightforward, and in some cases it is, particularly when a stock doesn't pay dividends. Return can get quite complex once stock splits, corporate spin-offs and dividends are taken into account. (See the link below to our Quant 101 course where we go through an example in Excel).

For monthly returns, because returns of capital may occur mid-month, it is common to calculate daily returns and link them to get monthly returns.

In a Sentence

Ann:  Our data provider adjusts for corporate actions when calculating stock return.
Kay:  Good. They didn't teach us about that in college.


Many terms have 4-5 minute videos showing a derivation and explanation. If this term had one, it would appear here.

Videos can also be accessed from our YouTube Channel.

Video Script

If this term had a video, the script would be here.


Click box for answer.

Data providers typically measure and link stock returns on a daily basis. | True or False?


What is the rate of return for a stock with a beginning value of $10.00, an ending value of $5.00 and it incurred a 2-for-1 split. | -47.50% or 0.00% or 2.50%?


Questions or Comments?

Still unclear on calculating Stock Return? Check out the Quant 101 Series, specifically Calculate Monthly Returns on Stocks in Excel.

Related Terms

Our trained humans found other terms in the category performance basics you may find helpful.

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