Residual Income

Residual Income (RI) is a financial performance metric used to evaluate the profitability of a business unit or an investment. It measures the amount of income generated by an investment or business unit after accounting for the cost of capital. In other words, residual income is the net income that remains after deducting the minimum required return on investment.

Purpose: The purpose of using residual income as a performance metric is to assess the efficiency of an investment or business unit in generating profits over and above the required return. It helps organizations to identify and focus on those investments that create value for shareholders and to avoid those that do not meet the desired return criteria.

Role: The role of residual income is to serve as a decision-making tool for managers and investors in evaluating the profitability and financial performance of investments or business units. It helps in:

  1. Comparing the performance of different investments or business units within the organization.
  2. Identifying underperforming investments that may require corrective actions or divestment.
  3. Allocating resources to investments or business units that generate higher residual income.
  4. Incentivizing managers to make decisions that maximize shareholder value.

Components: Residual Income can be calculated using the following formula:

Residual Income = Operating Income - (Cost of Capital x Capital Invested)


  1. Operating Income: The net income generated by the investment or business unit.
  2. Cost of Capital: The minimum required return on investment, typically expressed as a percentage. This may include the cost of equity, the cost of debt, or a weighted average cost of capital (WACC).
  3. Capital Invested: The total amount of capital invested in the business unit or investment.

Importance: Residual income is an essential financial performance metric as it helps organizations to evaluate the efficiency of investments and business units in generating profits above the required return. By focusing on investments with positive residual income, organizations can maximize shareholder value and improve their overall financial performance.


  1. Provides a clearer picture of the profitability of investments or business units.
  2. Helps organizations allocate resources more efficiently.
  3. Encourages managers to focus on maximizing shareholder value.
  4. Supports decision-making in investment evaluation, resource allocation, and performance measurement.


  1. Helps in evaluating the true profitability of investments or business units.
  2. Encourages value-creating decisions by managers.
  3. Supports better resource allocation and investment decisions.


  1. May not consider the time value of money or risk associated with investments.
  2. Requires accurate estimation of the cost of capital, which can be challenging.
  3. May not be suitable for comparing investments with different risk profiles or growth prospects.

Example to illustrate key concepts: Consider a company with two business units - A and B. The company's cost of capital is 10%, and both units have the same capital invested, $1,000,000. Unit A generates an operating income of $200,000, while Unit B generates an operating income of $150,000.

Residual Income for Unit A = $200,000 - (10% x $1,000,000) = $200,000 - $100,000 = $100,000 Residual Income for Unit B = $150,000 - (10% x $1,000,000) = $150,000 - $100,000 = $50,000

In this example, Unit A has a higher residual income than Unit B, indicating that it is more efficient in generating profits above the required return. The company may consider allocating more resources to Unit A or focus on improving the performance of Unit B.

See Also