What Is The Difference Between Yield and Return?

Triston Martin

Oct 14, 2023

An investment's yield and return are two separate metrics used to determine its long-term profitability. While the return is the amount of money earned or lost on an investment over time, the yield is how much money and investment returns over time, often represented in a percentage.


Investing returns a profit, such as the interest earned from owning securities, known as yield. The yearly percentage rate based on the cost, current market value, or face value of the investment is commonly used to indicate the return. Depending on the security issue, yield can either be known or predicted. Forecasting yield is essential. It is assumed that interest and dividends will be paid out at the same rate throughout the year to annualize this revenue.


An investment's return is the difference in the investment's value over time, which is commonly stated in terms of dollars. Return is sometimes referred to as total return and reflects what an investor gained from an investment within a specific period. Total return comprises interest, dividends, and capital gain, such as an increase in the share price. In other terms, a return is retroactive or backward-looking.

Suppose an investor acquired $50 worth of stock and sold it for $60, which would provide a $10 profit. While holding the shares, a $1 dividend was paid, making the total return of $11, which included both the capital gain and dividend, possible. A positive return on an investment is a profit, whereas a negative return is a loss.

Yield and Risk

An investment's return includes risk as one of its major components. The potential return is more significant when the risk is greater. A less risky investment has a lower potential return than a more hazardous one. Investments in Treasuries, for example, pose little to no threat to investors. Due to the increased equities risk, investors are often compensated with higher yields to offset the additional risk.

Yield vs. Return

It's crucial to note that while both the return rate and yield refer to an investment's performance in one year, their variations might be substantial. An investment's total return expressed as a percentage of the original investment cost is known as the rate of return. Yield measures how much money investment has returned based on its starting cost, excluding capital gains.

Except for dividend-paying stocks and mutual funds, all investments have a rate of return, which can be applied to almost any investment. The three most frequent forms of investments with both return rates and yields are mutual funds, stocks, and bonds.

What Are The Main Differences?

Even a novice investor can easily make the mistake of conflating yield with the return. They both refer to the amount of money that may be earned from an investment. The two do, however, differ in several respects. The term "yield" refers to the amount of money an investor makes from a particular investment. In contrast, "return" describes the amount of money an investor loses or gains from that same investment. Return is expressed in dollars, whereas yield is expressed in percentages.

Yield is a more prospective measure of an investment's performance. As a result, the metric represents an investor's return (or loss) on that investment. In calculating yield, market value and face value are considered, but capital gains are left out. Meanwhile, the percentage is usually expressed as a percentage of the total for the year (APR). The more significant the risk, the higher the possible return, as with any investment.

As an alternative, the return on an investment focuses on the monetary amount generated in the past. Returned dividends are the primary measure of a company's financial performance. There is also an examination of capital gains, which is a rise in the price of an asset over time. Both short-term and long-term capital gains are possible.

What Is the Importance of Dividend Yield?

A stock's dividend yield might offer you a sense of how much money you can anticipate making in the future. On the other hand, dividend-paying stocks are a good bet for investors who need a constant flow of income. However, if you are searching for a stock with the potential for capital gains, you should focus on firms with modest dividend yields.

What Is the Importance of Yield?

To get a sense of how much money you may anticipate making from an investment, you need to know the yield. A consistent source of income can be achieved by investments with high yields, for example. On the other hand, investing in low-yielding assets will put you in a position to reap the benefits of future capital gains.


It's not always easy to tell the difference between yield and return. To recall the differences between the two, remember that yields only account for profits, but returns account for both profits and losses. In addition, they each use a distinct way of calculating their results.

Additionally, give looks forward, whereas return only looks backward. Return is a change in the total value, whereas yield is given as a percentage. Yield risk is considered when computing yields, while return risk is not.

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