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Treynor ratio measures the efficiency with which the fund manager has allocated the fund’s assets to compensate the investor for taking the given level of risk.

This article covers the following:

  1. What is Treynor Ratio?
  2. How to calculate Treynor Ratio?
  3. What are the limitations of Treynor Ratio?
  4. How to use Treynor Ratio in mutual fund selection?
  5. How to Invest in Mutual Funds?

1. What is Treynor Ratio?

Treynor ratio is a measure of returns earned in excess of the risk-free return at a given level of  market risk. It highlights the risk-adjusted returns generated by a mutual fund scheme. This ratio was given by  Jack Treynor thereby expanding the contribution of William Sharpe towards modern portfolio theory. The Sharpe Ratio provides an overview of the return generating capacity of the fund against the overall risk. However, Treynor Ratio exclusively focuses on how much the portfolio has performed in the backdrop of risks prevailing in the economy.

To make things lucid, you need to know that returns of an investment portfolio are vulnerable to two types of risk i.e. company risk and market risk. If your portfolio returns fall on account of one firm in the segment, it is because of internal adverse factors faced by the firm. You may perceive it as company-related risk. On the other hand, if the portfolio returns are affected due to bad performance of all the firms in an industry, the reason might be an overall economic downturn. You may perceive it as market risk.

In fact, you are advised to maintain a diversified portfolio to eliminate the chances of losing money owing to company risk. However, as regards market risk, it cannot be eliminated. Hence, when you take market risk upon making investment in a mutual fund scheme, you become eligible to receive a reward called the risk premium. The higher the risk taken, higher must be the reward. Thus, Treynor ratio of a mutual fund indicates how well you would be rewarded for taking the risk of investing in the particular mutual fund scheme.

2. How to calculate Treynor Ratio?

Treynor Ratio gauges how efficiently the fund manager achieves the balance between return and risk of the portfolio. Unlike Sharpe Ratio, it makes use of beta in the denominator. You need to know that beta indicates sensitivity of fund returns to movements of the underlying benchmark. The beta of a fund which invests in highly volatile stocks would be higher than the fund which invests in less volatile securities.

Stocks having high volatility rise and fall faster during a market rally and slump respectively. The higher the beta, higher is the sensitivity of fund returns and riskier is the investment. Thus, as compared to low-beta stocks, the stocks with high beta might generate higher or lower returns based on the market performance. In other words, treynor ratio takes into account market risk while calculating risk-adjusted returns.

The Treynor ratio can be calculated by using the following formula:

Treynor Ratio = (Rp-Rf)/Beta

Rp = Returns generated by your fund/portfolio
Rf = Risk-free rate
B = Beta, the sensitivity of the portfolio towards movements of the underlying benchmark.

Suppose the average return generated by your fund is 10% and the risk-free rate is 6%. The difference between the fund return and risk-free rate becomes 4%. If the fund’s historic beta is 2, then the Treynor Ratio will be 2 (i.e. 4 divided by 2). It implies that the fund gave two units of return for every additional unit of market risk assumed.

While comparing two funds, you may use Treynor Ratio to arrive at the ideal fund. It is assumed that the fund with a higher Treynor ratio is better at compensating you for risk-taking as compared to the other fund which has a lower Treynor ratio.

3. What are the limitations of Treynor Ratio?

Treynor ratio is used by the investors as a simple tool to measure the risk-adjusted return earning potential of a portfolio. However, as an investor, you need to know that it also suffers from several limitations. Treynor ratio might a good way to analyze and identify the superior performing investment among a group of funds. But the it is effective only when the given investment is a subset of the larger portfolio. Instances where the portfolios have similar systematic risks but variable total risk, treynor ratio will give them the same rank even though it is not true.

Treynor ratio is calculated based on the historical data. You, thereby, get to know about the behaviour of the portfolios in the past. However, there’s no guarantee that the portfolio will continue to behave in the same manner in future. As the market dynamics change, the portfolio might become more or less vulnerable depending upon the volatility of the underlying securities. Thus, treynor ratio cannot become a mirror to reflect the future potential of a portfolio. You might have to use it in combination with other ratios to arrive at accurate decision.

Consider a portfolio which has delivered average return of around 12% for past 5 years and has a beta of 1.5. But there is no guarantee that the portfolio will continue to perform in the same way in the years to come. The rate of return may go up or down depending on the macroeconomic factors.

4. How to use Treynor Ratio in mutual fund selection?

Treynor ratio may come handy in shortlisting appropriate mutual funds before arriving at the final decision. Usually, fund which has a higher treynor ratio is regarded as superior as compared to the one with a lower Treynor Ratio. However, you need to use the ratio based on the characteristics of the portfolio.

If you consider a well-diversified portfolio, the company risk will be low which means that the total risk would be almost equal to market risk. In such a scenario, the Sharpe and Treynor ratios would yield similar results i.e. they will rank such funds in same order. However, in case of non-diversified portfolios, market risk tends to be the better risk measure. Hence, in this situation, the ranks given by the two ratios will be different.

Hence, the Treynor Ratio gives additional risk-adjusted performance metric by considering the undiversifiable element of risk. If you find that the addition of a new fund lowers the Treynor ratio of the portfolio; it means that the new fund only increased the riskiness of the portfolio without contributing to the overall portfolio returns. Thus, you may relook at your decision of adding the new fund to the portfolio.

5. How to Invest in Mutual Funds?

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