What is CAGR in Mutual Funds?

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  • 03 Aug 2023

Mutual funds are popular investment vehicles among a range of investors. When assessing a mutual fund's performance, one crucial metric that investors often look at is the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR). CAGR is an essential tool that helps investors gauge the fund's historical returns and make more informed investment decisions.

CAGR is a measure used to determine the annualized growth rate of an investment over a specific period, taking into account the effects of compounding. Unlike the simple average, which calculates the arithmetic mean of returns, CAGR considers the compounding effect, providing a more accurate representation of an investment's true growth rate.

Now that you know CAGR's full form and meaning let's see its computation methodology. To calculate the CAGR for a mutual fund, the initial investment value (usually denoted as "Beginning Value") and the final investment value (usually denoted as "Ending Value") are required. The formula to calculate CAGR is as follows:

CAGR = (Ending Value / Beginning Value)^(1 / Number of years) - 1

For example, suppose an investor initially invested Rs 10,000 in a fund, and after five years, the investment grew to Rs 15,000. The CAGR for this investment would be:

CAGR = (15,000 / 10,000)^(1 / 5) - 1 ≈ 0.0834 or 8.34%.

Interpreting CAGR Results

The CAGR percentage represents the annual growth rate of the investment over the specified period, assuming that the investment's growth was steady and compounded. A positive CAGR indicates that the mutual fund generated positive returns over the chosen time frame. Conversely, a negative CAGR suggests a loss in value.

  • Long-term Performance Assessment: CAGR is an invaluable tool for evaluating the long-term performance of mutual funds. It provides investors with a better understanding of the fund's growth over time, helping them identify trends and patterns.

  • Risk Assessment: CAGR also assists in assessing the risk associated with a mutual fund's investment strategy. If the fund exhibits a high CAGR, it might indicate higher volatility and risk in achieving such returns. On the other hand, a stable and consistent CAGR suggests a more conservative approach.

  • Comparison of Investment Options: CAGR allows investors to compare the performance of various funds over the same period. It helps investors make informed decisions by analyzing which fund has historically provided better returns.

CAGR Limitations

While CAGR is an essential metric, investors should be aware of its limitations:

  • Past Performance: CAGR is calculated based on historical data, providing a retrospective view of how the mutual fund performed over a specific period. However, it is crucial to remember that the financial markets are dynamic and subject to constant change.

Economic conditions, geopolitical events, regulatory changes, and other external factors can significantly influence the performance of investments in the future. What performed well in the past may yield different results in the coming years.

  • Smoothing Effect: CAGR assumes steady compounding over the investment period, which may not always be true. The actual returns fluctuate significantly from year to year due to various factors that impact the performance of mutual funds.

Mutual funds follow different investment strategies based on their objectives, such as growth, income, or a combination of both. Depending on the market environment and the fund manager's decisions, the investment strategy may shift or experience periods of higher risk-taking. This can lead to uneven returns over time, impacting the fund's CAGR.

Summing it Up

CAGR is a valuable tool for investors seeking to understand the historical performance of mutual funds. Considering the compounded growth rate provides a more accurate reflection of an investment's true returns over a specific time frame. However, investors should not rely solely on CAGR when making investment decisions.

Considering other factors, such as the fund's investment objectives, risk profile, and market conditions is crucial. A comprehensive analysis, combined with CAGR, will enable investors to make well-informed choices and build a robust investment portfolio.


CAGR is computed as per this formula (Ending Value / Beginning Value)^(1 / Number of years) - 1. So, suppose an initial investment of Rs. 1000 made five years ago has grown to Rs. 1800 today, although the absolute growth rate of the investment is 80%. In that case, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) represents the average annual return on the investment earned over the entire period. In this case, the CAGR is calculated to be 12.5%.

The primary drawback of the CAGR is its reliance on calculating a smoothed rate of growth over a specific period, which overlooks volatility and may inaccurately suggest a consistent and steady growth throughout that duration.

Investors commonly employ CAGR as a performance metric for investments, often focusing on a three-year or five-year period. Nevertheless, you can also utilize it to track an investment's performance over more extended time frames.

CAGR offers precise projections of the annualized growth rate for investments or specific metrics. For more reliable outcomes, it is advisable to use extended periods when calculating compound annual growth rates. However, despite using longer timeframes, it's important to note that CAGR cannot fully account for volatilities, regardless of how consistent growth has been in the past.

If you seek stable returns through investments in robust and established companies from the financial market, a CAGR percentage of 8% to 12% would be considered favorable for your investment objectives. On the other hand, for investors willing to take on moderate to high risk by investing in companies with growth potential, a CAGR percentage of 15% to 25% would be considered a more suitable target.

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