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Accounting Rate of Return (ARR)


Accounting Rate of Return (ARR) is a financial metric used to evaluate the profitability of an investment or project. It is calculated by dividing the average annual accounting profit by the initial investment or average investment value. The resulting percentage indicates the expected return on investment, with higher percentages denoting potentially more profitable investments.


Accounting Rate of Return (ARR) in phonetics can be represented as:/əˈkaʊntɪŋ/ /reɪt/ /ʌv/ /rɪˈtɜrn/ (ARR)Breaking it down:- Accounting: /əˈkaʊntɪŋ/- Rate: /reɪt/- of: /ʌv/- Return: /rɪˈtɜrn/

Key Takeaways

  1. ARR measures average net income as a percentage of the initial investment: The Accounting Rate of Return, also known as the Average Rate of Return, evaluates the profitability of an investment by measuring the average net income generated as a percentage of the initial investment. It helps businesses compare the potential profitability of different investments to make informed decisions.
  2. ARR is simple to calculate but has limitations: To calculate ARR, one divides the average annual accounting profit by the initial investment cost. This simplicity makes it an accessible tool. However, ARR’s limitations include not considering the time value of money, cash flow timing, and the risk associated with different investments.
  3. Comparing ARR with other methods: Businesses often use the ARR in conjunction with other investment appraisal techniques, such as Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR). While ARR provides an insight into the average profit generated from an investment, NPV and IRR take into account factors like the time value of money and cash flow, offering a more comprehensive understanding of an investment’s potential returns.


The Accounting Rate of Return (ARR) is an important financial metric in business and finance as it provides a simple and easily understandable measurement of a project’s profitability and effectiveness. By considering the average accounting profit generated by a project in relation to the initial capital investment, ARR enables decision-makers to compare the potential returns of multiple investment opportunities and make informed judgments about project viability and feasibility. As a result, ARR plays a crucial role in capital budgeting and investment analysis, helping businesses allocate resources efficiently, optimize profitability, and support long-term growth and sustainability.


The Accounting Rate of Return (ARR) is a financial metric commonly employed by businesses to evaluate the profitability of a potential investment, allowing them to determine its possible return over time. Serving as a vital tool for decision-making, ARR aids managers and investors in prioritizing projects that offer the most significant financial benefits, enabling the optimal allocation of resources. By comparing the average annual accounting profit to the initial investment cost, ARR allows companies to assess the performance of different investments, promoting a better understanding of their long-term viability. This is particularly beneficial when planning for business growth, mitigating risk, and pursuing sustainable avenues that contribute to improved financial health. When utilizing ARR, it is crucial to acknowledge both its advantages and limitations in order to make well-informed judgements. Among its merits, ARR is fairly simple to calculate and understand, providing a quick overview of the return potential of proposed investments. However, ARR neglects the time value of money, which can potentially lead to flawed results. Given its focus on accounting profits, ARR fails to consider cash flows, which could provide more accurate imagery of an investment’s true economic performance. To derive the most value and insight from ARR, it is recommended that businesses combine this metric with other financial analysis tools, such as the Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR), as doing so ensures a more comprehensive evaluation and an informed decision-making process.


Example 1: Small Manufacturing Company ExpansionA small manufacturing company is considering expanding their production facilities. They have two options for the expansion: Option A is estimated to cost $300,000 and generate average annual accounting profits of $60,000, while Option B costs $500,000 and is expected to produce an average annual accounting profit of $100,000. The company would like to calculate the ARR for each option to help them decide which option to pursue. Option A – ARR: ARR = (Avg. Annual Accounting Profit / Initial Investment) x 100ARR = (60,000 / 300,000) x 100ARR = 20% Option B – ARR:ARR = (Avg. Annual Accounting Profit / Initial Investment) x 100ARR = (100,000 / 500,000) x 100ARR = 20%In this example, both options have the same ARR of 20%, indicating equal returns on investment from an accounting perspective. The company will need to consider other factors, such as risk and growth potential, to make their decision. Example 2: Solar Panel InstallationA local school board is considering installing solar panels on their school buildings to save energy costs and reduce their environmental impact. The estimated cost of the solar panel installation is $200,000, and it is expected to generate annual energy savings of $20,000. They want to determine the ARR for this project to assess the expected return on investment. ARR = (Avg. Annual Accounting Profit / Initial Investment) x 100ARR = (20,000 / 200,000) x 100ARR = 10%In this example, the ARR for the solar panel installation project is 10%, indicating a return of 10% on the initial investment based on the accounting profits from energy savings. Example 3: Retail Store RenovationA retail store chain is considering renovating one of its branches to modernize and improve the customer experience. The renovation is estimated to cost $150,000, with an expected increase in average annual accounting profit of $25,000 due to increased sales. The retailer would like to know the ARR of this project to evaluate the potential return on investment. ARR = (Avg. Annual Accounting Profit / Initial Investment) x 100ARR = (25,000 / 150,000) x 100ARR = 16.67%In this example, the ARR for the retail store renovation is 16.67%, suggesting a return on investment of 16.67% based on the increase in annual accounting profits after the renovation. This percentage helps the retail store chain understand the financial benefits of carrying out the renovation project.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Accounting Rate of Return (ARR)?
Accounting Rate of Return (ARR) is a financial metric used to evaluate the profitability and efficiency of an investment project based on its average annual net profit and initial investment cost. It’s expressed as a percentage and gives an investor a quick and simple way to compare different investments.
How do you calculate Accounting Rate of Return (ARR)?
The formula for calculating ARR is:ARR = (Average Annual Profit / Initial Investment Cost) * 100Where:- Average Annual Profit is the sum of the investment’s net profit during its operating life, divided by the total number of years.- Initial Investment Cost is the total cost of the investment project at the beginning.
What is an acceptable ARR for a project?
An acceptable ARR is subjective and depends on various factors, such as the industry and market conditions. However, companies typically use a benchmark or target ARR, which represents the minimum ARR percentage that a project must achieve to prove it’s worth considering. Generally, a higher ARR indicates a more profitability project.
What are some advantages of using ARR?
Some advantages of using ARR are:1. Easy to compute: ARR relies on basic accounting information and requires simple calculations.2. Considers the entire life of the project: ARR takes into account the profitability over the whole operating life of the investment, giving a more comprehensive analysis.3. Simple interpretation: ARR is expressed as a percentage, making it easy for investors to quickly compare different investment opportunities.
What are some limitations of using ARR?
Some limitations of using ARR are:1. Ignores the time value of money: ARR doesn’t consider the financial impact of receiving cash flows at different points in time, which might lead to inaccurate results.2. Focuses on accounting profit: ARR is based on accounting principles, which may not always accurately reflect economic reality.3. Lacks a standardized benchmark: There’s no universally agreed-upon target ARR, causing inconsistencies in investment decisions across companies or industries.
How does ARR differ from other investment appraisal methods?
ARR relies on accounting profit and is expressed as a percentage, while other appraisal methods like Net Present Value (NPV) and Internal Rate of Return (IRR) take the time value of money into account. NPV expresses the net economic value in absolute terms, while IRR is the discount rate at which the NPV becomes zero. These methods often provide more accurate insights into the profitability and viability of a project.

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