# CAGR vs IRR: What’s the difference?

IRR is a simplification of XIRR in which only periodic cash flows are allowed. The above example shows why it would be inappropriate to use CAGR when there are more than two cash flows and the adequate measure of returns in such cases is the IRR. Typically, a fifty percent return can be expected to take several years to achieve. Since different investments often take different amounts of time for the returns to accumulate, it is useful to have a measure which makes investments with different time to return comparable.

This takes us back to our original question – why do investment firms declare results in terms of the IRR and not CAGR. Probably because there is no need to make an explicit assumption regarding the reinvestment rate in case of IRR. Regardless of how steadily growth has been in the past, you cannot account for volatilities. As such, if you calculate the CAGR for two years and there’s a disruption in the second year, it will significantly affect the CAGR.

## Calculating and Understanding Average Returns

When calculating the compound annual growth rate, you’ll use a smoothed rate of growth over the period in question. While you may want your industry and company to grow steadily and predictably, that’s rarely ever the case, much less so for an extended period. And IRR is just solving the above equation for r with NPV equal to zero. Note that unlike CAGR, the IRR formula is not analytical and uses iterative summation to account for the cash flows. The IRR equation when applied to a single cash outflow followed by a single cash inflow can be shown to be equivalent to the CAGR formula.

• In the tiered distribution structure, at each tier, return is calculated on the outstanding capital using the APY.
• Since different investments often take different amounts of time for the returns to accumulate, it is useful to have a measure which makes investments with different time to return comparable.
• To check if the gains of a deal that you expect hold true against a rigorous run of the numbers as well.
• So one will have to take into account the date of investments and receipts along with the amounts involved.
• The IRR assumes that the interim cash flows of Rs. 200, 400 and 500 are all reinvested at the rate of 27.41%.
• It allows investors to see the average return on investment over the holding period or period under analysis.

To check if the gains of a deal that you expect hold true against a rigorous run of the numbers as well. To check whether the proverbial returns stand the test of all the risks involved. Get instant access to all of our current and past commercial real estate deals. It is therefore more conservative and accurate to use IRR when seriously evaluating any investment options, as it will take into consideration true market volatility and the realities of the financial world. Upgrading to a paid membership gives you access to our extensive collection of plug-and-play Templates designed to power your performance—as well as CFI’s full course catalog and accredited Certification Programs.

## CAGR:

So we must also look at an annualized rate of return so as to see if the investment is worth the time and money. This corresponds to SIPs in equity and debt mutual funds or gold ETFs. In this post, the similarity and differences between the CAGR (compounded annualised growth rate) and the IRR (internal rate of return) are examined with the help of an illustration. Given your 4-year investment period, the CAGR will be that single rate at which Rs. 1,000 grows consistently every year to yield Rs. 2,000 at the end of 4 years.

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CAGR is very useful for finding the rate of return that the
investment would have to earn every year for the life of the investment
to turn the initial value into the future value over the given time
frame. That said, all of these methods suffer from a common limitation which is that they are not accounting for the riskiness of an investment or business project. IRR presumes that all the cash flows received will be reinvested at the same IRR rate.

## Understanding investment growth measures : CAGR vs IRR

For example, an investor might draft a business plan that states that investment properties are only to be purchased if the expected IRR exceeds 15%. As the investor performs due diligence on potential investments, they will find that some do not meet or exceed this hurdle rate. These properties should not be purchased if the investor intends to stick to their plan. It allows investors to see the average return on investment over the holding period or period under analysis.

To choose the one that suits you, it’s essential that you know what to expect from all available options. When calculating CAGR, begin by dividing the investment’s value at the end of the period by its value at the start of the period. Then, raise the result to the power of one divided by the number of years. From there, you’ll subtract one from the result you get and multiply it by 100 to convert the answer into a percentage. All other things being equal, the return of investment is the leading measure by which such comparisons are made. However, calculating said return is not always as trivial and there are different ways to do it.

## Compound annual growth rate FAQs

Note that you might also encounter the “per annum” wording, which is Latin for “per year”, and is often abbreviated as “p.a.”. Also note that returns can also be calculated on a quarterly, monthly, or even weekly basis in much the same way, though these would be less common. Using IRR exclusively can lead you to make poor investment decisions, especially if comparing two projects with different durations. Also, it’s important to have a good understanding of your own risk tolerance, a company’s investment needs, risk aversion, and other available options. Companies take on various projects to increase their revenues or cut down costs. A great new business idea may require, for example, investing in the development of a new product.

• CAGR provides accurate forecasts on the annualized rate of growth for investments or specific metrics.
• First, it is not a representation of the actual rate of return or future value.
• Upgrading to a paid membership gives you access to our extensive collection of plug-and-play Templates designed to power your performance—as well as CFI’s full course catalog and accredited Certification Programs.
• To check whether the proverbial returns stand the test of all the risks involved.
• Like CAGR, internal rate of return, or IRR, is a metric used by commercial real estate investors to calculate the profitability of an investment.

In such a case, IRR is a measure of growth but it cannot be equated to CAGR! The average that CAGR refers to, is not the arithmetic average that we usually use but the geometric average. This refers to CAGR calculations that include the degree of risk that you must accept for the CAGR to be achieved. For instance, suppose the CAGRs of two investments are 20% and 25%. However, if the industry CAGRs for both are 10% and 30%, respectively, the outlook will change.

Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) measures an investment or financial metric’s annual growth rate over a set period of time that’s longer than a year. This growth rate accounts for the reinvestment of profits at the end of each financial period. Based on the terms of this equation, the compound annual growth rate in this scenario is 7.18%. This means that despite the market volatility, the investment returned 7.18% annually. It is important to note that the CAGR as calculated will probably not be experienced by the investor in any given year. In our example, the investor did not experience a return of 7.18% in any given year, but over the entire holding period the return averaged out to 7.18%.

If the investors paid less than \$463,846 for all same additional cash flows, then their IRR would be higher than 10%. Conversely, if they paid more than \$463,846, then their IRR would be lower than 10%. The point is, the notion of a CAGR cannot be used when returns fluctuate and when periodic investments are made. This is why investors need to take results in IRR with a pinch of salt. Because the reinvestment rate is not stated explicitly in case of IRR, many investors overlook it.

Therefore, you can use CAGR to analyze the historical returns of mutual funds, stocks, and savings accounts. In this regard, calculating the compound annual growth rate will help. It will give you insight into the investment’s present value and allow you to make sound business decisions.

Note that even though the total cash flow during the investment period was Rs.2,000, the CAGR calculated in Case 2 was slightly higher than that calculated in Case 1. This is simply because of the reinvestment of the interim cash flows. Another very important point about the internal rate of return is that it assumes all positive cash flows of a project will be reinvested at the same rate as the project, instead of the company’s cost of capital. Therefore, the internal rate of return may not accurately reflect the profitability and cost of a project. Below is a short video explanation with an example of how to use the XIRR function in Excel to calculate the internal rate of return of an investment. The demonstration shows how the IRR is equal to the compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

There are some key things that you should note about the compound annual growth rate. First, it is not a representation of the actual rate of return or future value. It only serves as a method of forecasting the rate at which an investment may grow if it maintains the same growth rate over the entire forecast period. Moreover, cagr vs irr the profits at the end of each accounting period within the set timeframe should be reinvested. The Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is the discount rate that makes the net present value (NPV) of a project zero. In other words, it is the expected compound annual rate of return that will be earned on a project or investment.

Meanwhile, another similar investment option can generate a 10% return. The goal is to make sure the company is making the best use of its cash. Next we will consider a one-time investment in an instrument with highly volatile returns for 15 years.