Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Historical Returns


Historical returns, in finance, refer to the past performance or returns of a particular investment, such as a stock, bond, or an investment fund, over a specific period of time. This data is generally used by investors and analysts to predict future performance or to compare the performance against other investments or industry benchmarks. However, it’s important to note that historical returns do not guarantee future performance of the investment.


The phonetics of the keyword “Historical Returns” is: /hɪˈstɔrɪkəl rɪˈtɜrnz/

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Historical Returns provide insights into past performance: They act as a tool for investors to assess how an investment has performed in the past over a certain period. It should be remembered, however, that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.</li><li>They are used to gauge market trends: By studying historical returns, investors can identify patterns and trends in the market, which can serve as a guideline for investment decisions. While they do not guarantee future performance, they can offer insight into the market’s potential direction.</li><li>Note the effect of inflation: Although historical returns offer valuable data, they often neglect to consider the impact of inflation. If inflation is high during the investment period, it can drastically reduce the real value of returns. Therefore, it is crucial to interpret historical returns in terms of real returns rather than nominal returns.</li></ol>


Historical Returns are a critical aspect of business and finance as they assist investors in gauging the past performance of an asset or investment portfolio. By providing a tangible record of the returns achieved by a specific investment over a set period, historical returns can assist in predicting potential future performance, although they don’t guarantee it. They effectively highlight the volatility and potential risk associated with certain investments, helping investors decide where to put their money. In essence, understanding historical returns allows investors to formulate effective investment strategies, balancing risk and return in line with their specific financial objectives.


Historical Returns refer to the past performance of a particular investment or market index over a specific period of time. The primary purpose of examining historical returns is to gather insights for future investment decisions. It allows investors and financial analysts to assess the performance of an investment or a portfolio over time, ascertain and analyze patterns, and understand the volatility of returns. Analyzing historical returns helps investors strategically predict how investments could perform in the future, facilitating informed decision-making.However, it’s important to note that while historical returns provide useful insights, they do not guarantee future performances. Additionally, they are used to measure the riskiness of different investment options. If an investment has high volatility in its historical returns, it’s generally considered a riskier investment. On the contrary, consistent return patterns indicate stability, making the investment seem less risky. Thus, historical returns play a pivotal role in shaping investment strategies and risk management in the world of finance.


1. S&P 500 Historical Returns: If an investor wanted to look at the historical returns of the S&P 500 to gauge the average return they might expect in the future, they could go back decades to the inception of this index. Historically, the S&P 500 has returned about 10% annually on average, but this figure can change drastically depending on the period examined.2. Berkshire Hathaway Historical Returns: Headed by notable investor Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway has provided substantial historical returns to its investors. For example, if an individual had invested $10,000 in Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, that investment could have grown to over $240 million by 2020. The historical returns of this company provide useful context for potential investors and provides an example of how past performance can be a factor in investment decisions.3. Historical Returns of Gold: Gold is often viewed as a safe haven asset during periods of economic uncertainty. Therefore, investors often look at the historical returns of gold during economic downturns and compare this to the performance of other asset classes. For instance, during the 2008 economic crisis, gold returned about 4% while the S&P 500 fell by about 37%, indicating that gold’s performance was markedly better during this volatile period.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Historical Return in finance and business?

Historical Return is the past performance or return of a specific investment or a market index over a specified period. It’s usually used as a measure to forecast future returns or to benchmark a financial instrument’s returns against a market index.

Where can I find information about Historical Returns?

Historical Returns are commonly reported by financial media, brokerage websites, financial analyst reports, and official statements from mutual funds or ETFs. It’s also available in databases at financial research firms.

How is Historical Return calculated?

Historical Return is generally calculated by taking the change in price of the investment or market index, adding any dividends or interest received during the period, and dividing this by the starting price. The result is then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage.

Why are Historical Returns important?

Historical Returns give investors an idea of how an investment or a specific market has performed in the past. While they don’t guarantee future performance, they can provide insight into potential trends or volatility.

Can Historical Returns predict future returns?

Not necessarily. While Historical Returns provide a record of past performance, they cannot predict future results with certainty. Every investment has its own risks that can impact returns, including market volatility, interest rates, and economic changes.

How reliable are Historical Returns?

While Historical Returns can provide insights and trends from the past, they should not be the only factor considered when investing. Historical Returns don’t account for future market conditions, economic changes, or company-specific risks.

Are there limitations to using Historical Returns?

Yes, there are major limitations. Historical Returns represent past performance and may not be indicative of future results. They also don’t account for inflation, taxes, or changes in interest rates. Therefore, investors should always consider these factors and more when making investment decisions.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More