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Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)


The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is a financial term that represents the mean annual growth rate of an investment over a specified time period, assuming the profits were reinvested at the end of each year. It is computed as the ratio between the final value and the initial value of an investment, raised to the inverse of the number of years, minus one. CAGR is a significant measure because it smooths out the effects of volatility on investments, offering a clear view of return over time.


Compound: /ˈkɒmpaʊnd/Annual: /ˈæn.juː.əl/Growth: /grəʊθ/Rate: /reɪt/CAGR (as an acronym): /ˈkægər/

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition: Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is a business and investing specific term for the geometric progression ratio that provides a constant rate of return over the time period. It is essentially a measure of an investment’s annual growth rate over time.
  2. Calculation Methods: CAGR isn’t directly calculated from the normal arithmetic mean, but it uses the geometric mean. The formula for CAGR is: CAGR = (Ending Value / Beginning Value) ^ (1 / number of years) – 1.
  3. Usage and Limitations: While CAGR can be very useful for comparing investments, it should be noted that it assumes a smooth growth rate over the period, which may not reflect reality. It might overlook volatility and risk factors. Therefore, it should be used as one of many factors when evaluating investments.


Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is an important term in business/finance as it provides a constant rate of return over a period which would be required for an investment to grow from its beginning balance to its ending balance, assuming the profits were reinvested at the end of each year. Unlike other methods, CAGR considers both the initial and final values, offering a realistic view of an investment’s annual earnings over time. It’s a more accurate reflection of investment performance as it smooths out the effects of fluctuations and volatility in annual growth rates, thus making it easier to compare different investments or business growth over time.


The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) serves a critical role in finance and business by providing a smooth and simplified figure for growth over multiple time periods. It’s often used to evaluate and compare the growth rates of investments, businesses, or any other financial performance over a specific period, typically multiple years. CAGR projects the rate at which an investment would have grown if it had risen at a steady rate, assuming the profits were reinvested at the end of each year of the investment term. It does not, however, reflect investment risk.Moreover, CAGR is a useful tool in business planning and assessment. For example, a company might use CAGR to compare its growth rate to competitors in order to gauge its market performance, or to predict future revenues and users for business planning. It strips away the volatility of interim period results to present a clear view of the change and trend over time, thus facilitating decision-making simplification. Despite its benefits, it’s worth noting that CAGR is just one tool among many and should be used in conjunction with other metrics and considerations, not as an exclusive determinant of financial success.


1. Stock Market Investments: If an individual invests their money in the stock market, CAGR could be used to determine the average yearly growth rate of their investment over a particular time period. For example, if a person invested $100,000 in a particular stock and after five years it grew to $150,000, they can use CAGR to calculate the yearly growth rate of their investment. 2. Company’s Revenue Growth: Businesses use CAGR to gauge their success over a specific period. For instance, if a company’s revenues were $1 million five years ago, and now they stand at $2 million, the management can use CAGR to calculate the average growth rate per annum. 3. Industry Growth Rates: CAGR can also be utilized to determine the growth of whole sectors or industries. For instance, if the e-commerce industry was worth $2 trillion five years ago and is worth $3 trillion today, the CAGR can be used to find out the compound annual growth rate of the entire industry.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)?

The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is a measure of the mean annual growth rate of an investment over a specified time period longer than one year.

How is the CAGR calculated?

The CAGR is calculated using the following formula: CAGR = (Ending Value/Beginning Value)^(1/Number of years) – 1

What is the use of CAGR in finance and business?

CAGR is primarily used to determine the return for an investment over a period of time. It offers a better view of an investment performance because it considers compounding. It’s also frequently used to compare the historical returns of different investments.

What is the difference between CAGR and other growth rates?

Unlike other growth measures, CAGR considers investment tenure and the value of money over time, making it a more accurate and reliable measure of growth. It minimizes the effects of volatility compared to average annual growth rates.

Is a high CAGR always a good thing?

Not always. A high CAGR can indicate high growth, but it can also mean higher risk. An investment with high compound annual growth may be more likely to see dramatic price swings, which can increase the likelihood of losses.

Can CAGR be used to predict future growth?

CAGR only describes past growth patterns, and not future trends. It does not account for investment risk or market conditions which may affect future performance.

Why is CAGR considered geographically neutral?

CAGR isn’t influenced by differences in market factors from one geographic region to another, which makes it a useful tool for comparing the growth rates of global investments.

What’s the disadvantage of using CAGR?

A significant disadvantage of CAGR is its simplicity. It assumes growth is smooth over a period, which is rarely the case. It does not reflect investment risk or volatility.

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