Total Return Price

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Definition

Total return price is a theoretical price that helps investors look at their returns over time, accounting for both price appreciation and dividends received rather than price alone. It is the best way to calculate the actual returns on a stock over a period of time.

YCharts' total return price assumes that all dividends were reinvested and that no taxes were collected on dividend payments. This follows Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) methodology.

When calculating the return on an investment, an investor should look both at the changes in the value of the stock price as well as the gains from dividend payments. For example, if you buy a stock for $10, its price appreciates to $15 and it pays a $1 dividend, and you sell it, you have made $5 from the change in price and $1 from dividends. This $6 increase is your total gain, and your total return is 60%.

The total return price helps you to look backward to determine an equivalent price that you would have paid to get the same returns from a stock that paid no dividends (also adjusted for splits). Let's look at the previous example again.

Assumptions:
Price paid (1/1/01): $10.00
Closing price (12/30/01): $15.00
Dividend Paid (12/31/01): $1.00
Closing Price (12/31/01): $15.00

Your total returns for the year: $6.00 or 60%

Calculating Total Return Price:

12/31/01:
Actual Price: $15.00
Total Return Price: $15.00
The most recent total return price is always equal to the current price.

12/30/01:
Actual Price: $15.00
Total Return Price: $14.00 = $15.00 x (1-$1/$15.00)
The $1 dividend was 1/15 of the value of the stock, so if you could have received the dividend immediately after buying the stock on 12/30/01, you could have paid $14 for the stock and had a stock worth $15 because of the dividend that was paid.

1/1/01:
Actual Price: $10.00
Total Return Price: $9.33 = $10 x (1-$1/$15.00)
This is exactly like the previous problem. We received 1/15th of the stock's value on 12/30/01, so looking back we need to remove this value from the historical total returns price.

Formula

Total Return Price = Actual Price x Split Factor x Dividend Adjustment Factor

Split factor = 0.5 for a 2 for 1 split, 0.33 for a 3 for 1 split, etc.
Dividend Adjustment Factor = (1 - Value of Dividend on Date it is Paid / Previous Day's Close Price)

Note: the split and dividend factors are cumulative, so a stock that paid 4 dividends during a year, will have 4 Dividend Adjustment Factors multiplied together for prices that are more than 1 year old.

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