The Sharpe Ratio: Definition and How to Use It

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Therefore, by adding diversified assets to a portfolio, the Sharpe ratio should increase in comparison to other portfolios withless diversification. However, investors must assume that risk and volatility are equal for this evaluation to be true. The study has been able to prove that within a fixed time period, Sharpe’s optimal portfolio outperforms the market index. In this study, the optimal portfolio has a mean return that far exceeds the index return. Hence, it can be inferred that diversification using a linear mathematical model such as the Sharpe single-index model can lead to higher returns at lower risk.

Ideally, you might consider a sharpe ratio meaning desirable which has a higher Sharpe ratio. However, this kind of perception may not always be fruitful if the fund took a lot of additional volatility. It means that a fund that achieves 7% returns with moderate volatility will always be better than a fund which gives 8% returns with a lot of ups and downs. A higher Sharpe ratio, thus, means that the relationship between fund’s risk and return is ideal. The returns measured can be of any frequency (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly or annually), as long as they are normally distributed, as the returns can always be annualized.

Although it looks like B performs better in terms of return, when we look at the Sharpe Ratio, it turns out that A has a ratio of 2 while B’s ratio is only 0.5. For example, assume that a hedge fund manager has a portfolio of stocks with a ratio of 1.70. The fund manager decides to add some commodities to diversify and modify the composition to 80/20, stocks/commodities, which pushes the Sharpe ratio up to 1.90. An investment portfolio can consist of shares, bonds, ETFs, deposits, precious metals, or other securities. Each security has its own underlying risk-return level that influences the ratio.

Prevent Unauthorized Transactions in your demat / trading account Update your Mobile Number/ email Id with your stock broker / Depository Participant. In the above example, both Fund Alpha and Fund Kappa are diversified equity funds as per the classification of SEBI. Instead of manually performing your own technical analysis, you might work with a financial professional who can analyze and choose investments on your behalf. Finding the right financial advisor thatfits your needsdoesn’t have to be hard.SmartAsset’s free toolmatches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes.

What Is Sharpe Ratio? Definition of Sharpe Ratio

While the portfolio adjustment might increase the overall level of risk, it pushes the ratio up, thus indicating a more favorable risk/reward situation. The higher the ratio, the greater the investment return relative to the amount of risk taken, and thus, the better the investment. The ratio can be used to evaluate a single stock or investment, or an entire portfolio. In some settings, the Kelly criterion can be used to convert the Sharpe ratio into a rate of return.

  • From equities, fixed income to derivatives, the CMSA certification bridges the gap from where you are now to where you want to be — a world-class capital markets analyst.
  • For example, let’s say you use the Sharpe ratio using numbers around a three-year investment.
  • Typically, fund managers are supposed to eliminate unsystematic risk in the portfolio by diversifying, so they should only be rewarded for systematic risk.
  • Also, it assumes that the maximum price movement is the same in either direction — up or down.
  • Alternatively, an investor could use a fund’s return objective to estimate its projected Sharpe ratio ex-ante.

10 small equity mutual funds that have given very good risk-adjusted returnsMany small-sized funds have delivered handsome risk-adjusted returns. If two funds offer similar returns, the one with higher standard deviation will have a lower Sharpe ratio. In order to compensate for the higher standard deviation, the fund needs to generate a higher return to maintain a higher Sharpe ratio. In simple terms, it shows how much additional return an investor earns by taking additional risk.

If you only end up holding your investment for a year, that ratio won’t really apply to your investment anymore. You may even end up operating at a loss depending on when you buy and sell. This certificate demonstrates that IIFL as an organization has defined and put in place best-practice information security processes. Having understood Sharpe and Treynor ratios, here is why they are important.

What Does Sharpe Ratio Mean, And What Does It Measure?

A fund with a higher standard deviation should earn higher returns to keep its Sharpe ratio at higher levels. Conversely, a fund with a lower standard deviation can achieve a higher Sharpe ratio by earning moderate returns consistently. Geometric Sharpe Ratio is the geometric mean of compounded excess returns divided by the standard deviation of those compounded returns.

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However, if you obtain a negative Sharpe ratio, then it means that you would be better off investing in a risk-free asset than the one in which you are invested right now. Sharpe ratio is used to evaluate the risk-adjusted performance of a mutual fund. Basically, this ratio tells an investor how much extra return he will receive on holding a risky asset. Manager A has a portfolio return of 20% while B has a return of 30%.

First, they always want to get the highest possible returns from their investments. Second, they aim to minimize risk, which is just another way of saying they want the lowest possible chances of losing money. Excess returns are returns achieved above and beyond the return of a proxy. Excess returns will depend on a designated investment return comparison for analysis. ClearTax offers taxation & financial solutions to individuals, businesses, organizations & chartered accountants in India. ClearTax serves 1.5+ Million happy customers, 20000+ CAs & tax experts & 10000+ businesses across India.

Limitations of the Sharpe ratio

Based on the criteria of selection, only eleven companies were selected as part of the optimal portfolio according to the single-index model. Hence, it can be said that the portfolio of mid-cap stocks selected by the model was fairly diversified. The common benchmark used to represent that risk-free investment is U.S. Generally, the greater the value of the Sharpe ratio, the more attractive the risk-adjusted return. The ratio should give you a clear view of the relationship between risk and return, illustrating how much excess return is received for the additional risk.

There would be many instances when the optimal portfolio does not perform as predicted. The portfolio selection by this model is a static process whereas no other market is as dynamic as the stock market. The assumption of constant beta is also a flawed one as is the assumption of a constant risk-free rate of return. The information ratio identifies how much a fund has exceeded a benchmark.


You may use the Sharpe ratio to identify whether the new fund which you want to add to your existing portfolio would be beneficial or not. Ideally, the addition of an extra fund should increase the Sharpe ratio by lowering the overall risk and boosting the returns. On the contrary, if the Sharpe ratio drops to 1.05, then it indicates that you need to revisit the decision of diversification, i.e. adding that fund to the existing portfolio. Sharpe ratio can tell you whether your preferred fund is suitable from an investment perspective as compared to peer funds in the said category.

However, retail investors would want to build diversified portfolios across industries and companies. This study has tried to evaluate if a mid-cap stock portfolio constructed using Sharpe’s single-index model outperforms the benchmark index. The study was based on secondary data of adjusted closing prices collected from the website of the NSE of India. The stocks were selected from the Nifty mid-cap index of the top 100 mid-cap companies listed on the NSE.

  • Sharpe ratio in mutual funds denotes the method for an investment’s performance measurement after considering the risks.
  • Volatility, as you know, is the measure of fluctuations in the price of a security or portfolio and is considered a measure of total risk involved in the investment.
  • For example, low-quality, highly speculative stocks can outperform blue chip shares for considerable periods of time, as during the Dot-Com Bubble or, more recently, the meme stocks frenzy.

Thus, a higher Sharpe ratio indicates better return yielding capacity of a fund for every additional unit of risk taken by it. It becomes a justification for the underlying volatility of the fund. Because it is a dimensionless ratio, laypeople find it difficult to interpret Sharpe ratios of different investments. For example, how much better is an investment with a Sharpe ratio of 0.5 than one with a Sharpe ratio of -0.2? This weakness was well addressed by the development of the Modigliani risk-adjusted performance measure, which is in units of percent return – universally understandable by virtually all investors.

The Sharpe ratio is used to help investors understand the return of an investment compared to its risk. However, unless the standard deviation is very large, leverage may not affect the ratio. For example, a stock that is leveraged 10-to-1 could easily see a price drop of 10%, which would translate to a 100% drop in the original capital and an early margin call. Kurtosis—fatter tails and higher peaks—or skewness can be problematic for the ratio as standard deviation is not as effective when these problems exist.

The quality of these inputs would also affect the optimum portfolio. For example, a classic failure of the model would be when there was a portfolio with three securities A, B, and C with weights 1, 1, and −1 and each having a standard deviation of 20 percent. In this situation, the portfolio variance would be −200—an absurd result as risk can never be a negative number. Another problem was the concept of selecting securities having negative covariances. In the real world, securities tend to move together and hence are found to have positive covariances. Since markets are often moved by sentiments, securities tend to move together in one direction.

Measures like Sortino, which only considers negative deviation from the mean return, can remove the limitation of Sharpe ratio to some extent. Two asset managers, Brad Roth, and CK Zheng share their strategies to handle 2022’s crypto fluctuations. While Roth is the chief investment officer at Thor Financial Technologies, Zheng is the co-founder of ZX Squared Capital, a digital asset hedge fund.


For some insight, a ratio of 1 or better is good, 2 or better is very good, and 3 or better is excellent. Charlene Rhinehart is a CPA , CFE, chair of an Illinois CPA Society committee, and has a degree in accounting and finance from DePaul University. Nick Lioudis is a writer, multimedia professional, consultant, and content manager for Bread.

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In Kaplan’s model, the user could select a measure of return and a measure of risk and have a wide choice of return distribution models . However, the mean-variance model has usually been the base model which would then be modified to build further models with better optimisation such as the mean-semivariance portfolio selection model . Studies selecting portfolios based on the fundamentals of stocks such as book-to-market ratio or certain investment indices have also been used by investors to build optimal portfolios . However, these portfolios again were based on stock variables like balance sheet data and not flow variables.

Thus, for negative values the Sharpe ratio does not correspond well to typical investor utility functions. However, financial assets are often not normally distributed, so that standard deviation does not capture all aspects of risk. Ponzi schemes, for example, will have a high empirical Sharpe ratio until they fail. Similarly, a fund that sells low-strike put options will have a high empirical Sharpe ratio until one of those puts is exercised, creating a large loss. In both cases, the empirical standard deviation before failure gives no real indication of the size of the risk being run.

How to use the Sharpe ratio to calculate risk-vs-reward –

How to use the Sharpe ratio to calculate risk-vs-reward.

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Moreover, it measures investment performance by adjusting for the risk. It may be used to analyze an overall portfolio, a single investment, or a stock. Save taxes with Clear by investing in tax saving mutual funds online. Download Black by ClearTax App to file returns from your mobile phone. Sharpe ratio is one of the most powerful tools used in mutual fund selection.

A high ratio means that, on a risk-adjusted basis, a manager has produced better returns consistently compared to the benchmark index. Also, comparing multiple funds against a benchmark is difficult to interpret because the funds might have different securities, asset allocations for each sector, and entry points in their investments. As with any single financial ratio, it’s best to look at additional types of ratios and other financial metrics to make a more comprehensive and informed investment decision. Any ratio that measures risk-adjusted returns can have varied interpretations depending on the investor.

Since William Sharpe’s creation of the Sharpe Ratio in 1966, it has been one of the most referenced risk/return measures used in finance. By definition, Sharpe Ratio is the measure of risk-adjusted return of a financial portfolio. A portfolio with a higher Sharpe Ratio is considered superior relative to its peers. The measure was named after William F Sharpe, a Nobel laureate and emeritus professor of finance at Stanford.

A uniform holding period is considered for calculating the risk and return of every security. The market return for the period of five years from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2021 was found to be 11.37 percent, and the market risk was calculated and found to be 9.81 percent. The securities which had negative returns during the period of study were removed.