Yield Definition

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Editorial Team

Updated on March 11, 2023

Yield refers to the income generated by an investment over a period of time, expressed as a percentage of the invested amount, market value, or face value of the security.

It includes both interest earned, such as from bonds, and dividends received, such as from stocks.

Yield can be calculated using the following formula:

Formula for Yield

Example of Yield

For example, say that an investor buys a stock for $100. After holding it for a period of time, the investor earns $5 in dividends and sells the stock for $120.

The realized returns are equal to the earned dividends plus the appreciation in share price, or ($5 + $20) / $100 = 25%.

Taking Caution with High Yield

While a high yield means greater returns for investors, it must be interpreted carefully.

For example, a sudden increase in the yield of stock could indicate a falling stock price. This decreases the denominator in the yield equation and so raises the resulting percentage.

An increased yield can also result from an increase in dividend payments.

If this does not correspond to an increase in cash flow, the issuing company may have difficulty maintaining future payments.

Likewise, since bonds carry with them the risk of default, a higher than average yield could be because of a higher than average risk.

Many companies that issue risky bonds also issue them with a high yield, or coupon rate, in order to increase the appeal to risk-averse investors.

Yield FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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