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How does StockLight calculate annualised time-weighted returns?

Return on Investment

Case study: How the time period of your stock holding affects your true return

If you purchased BHP shares at $15.51 and the stock is now trading at $23.34, the share price has increased 50.5%.

If you purchased those shares exactly one year ago, that means your annualised gain not factoring dividends is 50.5%, a wonderful result.

However, if you purchased those shares thirty years ago, your annualised gain would only be 1.7%, a much worse result.

When you configure your holdings in StockLight, if you enter holding lots with Price Paid and Date Purchased, StockLight will automatically show your capital return gain or loss, dividend return and return on investment (ROI) as both a total amount and on an annualised time-weighted basis.

The opportunity cost associated with your personalised holding period is a very important concept when investing and that is why you need to know how your investments are doing on an annualised basis.

Unlike your broker who is typically incentivised to make you trade more often and has no reason to show you an annualised return, StockLight acts in your best interest and won't hide this crucial benchmark from you.

Step 1: The way our Total calculations are performed is as follows:
Avg Buy Price $ = Total price paid / # of shares purchased (otherwise known as 'Weighted Average Price Per Share')
Capital return (Gain or Loss) $ = Number of shares still held × Current share price + Total sales - Total price paid for these shares * this is your gain or loss on the share price plus your realised returns from sales
Dividend return $ = Dividend amounts issued during holding period × total number of shares held on the ex-date of each dividend (ignoring tax credits as they are dependant on individual circumstances)
ROI $ = Capital return $ + Dividend return $ - Brokerage

Step 2: StockLight then goes one step further and shows these as percentage totals:
Capital return % = Capital return $ ÷ Total paid
Dividends % = Dividend return $ ÷ Total paid
ROI % = ROI ÷ Total paid

StockLight then goes the extra mile and will break down your returns on an annualised basis. This is an extremely important concept because it will expose your true return respective of time.

Step 3: Annualised returns are then calculated in StockLight as follows:
Capital return annualised % = Cumulative sum of each share purchase lot's gain or loss divided by the number of years it was held (or divided by 1 if held for less than one year) in relation to the total price paid
Dividends annualised % = Cumulative sum of each dividend paid divided by the associated holdings number of years held (or divided by 1 if held for less than one year) in relation to the total price paid
ROI annualised % = (Capital return annualised + Total dividends annualised - brokerage) divided by the Total price paid

- These annualised calculations all use arithmetic averages and not geometric averages ie. they are not compounded
- If a share has been held for less than one year, the annualised calculation is the same as the calculations from Step 2
- Where shares have been sold, the capital return calculation is based on the earliest purchased shares that can cover the transaction
- The dividend returns do not factor tax or franking credits
- Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance
- StockLight's factual return calculations are not and should not be interpreted as general or personal advice

What is StockLight?

StockLight helps investors comb the market to find investment opportunities using a series of fundamental value investing ratios. StockLight is not a 'stock picking' tool, it flags companies that look attractive and provides links to deeper analysis to help you evaluate whether or not these stocks are worth buying (or selling).

How do I delete a stock from my watchlist?

To remove a stock from your watchlist, tap the edit option specified below, and then tap the red icon next to the stock name to remove the stock from your watchlist.

Arrange your holdings into multiple watchlists

Note, if you have purchased and sold out of a holding and you delete the stock in this way, the record of both your buy and sell transactions will be permanently destroyed. At this time, StockLight doesn't have a way of removing 'sold out' holdings from your watchlist that also retains the transactions. That is on our TODO list however it's a big change and isn't likely to be available soon.

How do I synchronise my paid StockLight Premium subscription across iOS devices?

On each device for which you have installed StockLight, follow these instructions:

  1. Open the StockLight app
  2. Tap the 'Settings' tab
  3. Tap 'Subscriptions'
  4. Tap 'Restore Previous Purchases'
* Note: If you have a paid StockLight premium account on an iPhone or iPad, you can use that premium subscription for free on multiple devices using these instructions so long as each device is logged into the same iTunes account.

How do I synchronise my portfolio and watchlist across devices?

On each device for which you have installed StockLight, follow these instructions:

  1. Open the StockLight app
  2. Tap the 'Settings' tab
  3. Tap 'Anonymous Account'
  4. Enter your email address
  5. When a confirmation email arrives, open it on your device's email client
  6. Tap the green confirmation link in the email
* If you are unable to open the confirmation email on you device, you can instead use the 'confirmation code' from the email on the apps sign-in screen.
** In order for StockLight to synchronise your devices, you must use the same email address in step 3 for each of your devices

After you have followed these instructions, when you first open StockLight on a device, it will check for updates from the server and 'synchronise' your portfolio across from other devices


How is movement percentage on the home screen calculated for my portfolio?

Daily performance
On your home screen, The Total P/L (Total Profit & Loss) number and percentage figure is calculated as follows:

Total P/L = Number of shares still held × Current share price - Total price paid for the shares you still hold
* this is your gain or loss on the share price. Note that unlike in the StockLight portfolio screen, this does not take into account your realised returns from sales. The 'Today' movement percentage shows the impact of today's movement in stock prices on your currently held shares.

How do I change my email address?

If you have logged into StockLight using your email address and you would like to change to a new email address, simply sign out and sign back in again as follows:

  1. Open the StockLight app
  2. Tap the StockLight settings icon in the menu bar at the top left of screen (handheld) or at the bottom right of the tab-bar (tablet)
  3. Tap the top menu item in the StockLight settings screen (which should show your email address if you are logged in)
  4. Tap the red 'LOG OUT' button at the bottom of the StockLight Account screen
  5. Tap the 'Anonymous Account' top menu item in the StockLight settings screen
  6. Enter your new email address
  7. Open the StockLight verification email on the same device (or use the 'Enter Code' pin number mentioned in the email on the sign-in screen)
  8. Repeat these steps for each device that you have used to sign into StockLight with
  9. For any subsequent emails from StockLight to your old email address, click the 'unsubscribe' link at the bottom of the email

Change Email Address

How do I ensure the portfolio value is correct?

Missing data from transactions
Delete a holding
On your home screen profit and loss panel and on your Portfolio screen annualised returns screen, the StockLight system relies on your transactions having accurate purchase prices and transaction dates.

In some situations (such as if holdings were entered a long time ago or if you logged out of and then back into your device), these prices and dates may be missing.

You can fix this by tapping any transaction on the Portfolio screen and then saving it with an accurate price and date.

In the example to the left, the second VGS, BRK.B, XRO and the FBR transactions are all showing a dash "-" where there should be a price and date. These should each be either updated with a price and date or deleted.

You can delete a transaction by tapping on it in the Portfolio screen, and then scrolling to the bottom of the 'Update Holding' form, and then tapping the red and gray 'Delete Holding' button. Refer to the screenshot to the right for what that button looks like.

How is currency handled for my portfolio?

By default, StockLight does not perform any currency conversion on your behalf and you are showed portfolio values and performance in the local currency for the stock
eg. USD for NASDAQ listed stocks, AUD for ASX listed stocks

The easiest way to track holdings from multiple currencies is to set up separate watchlists for each currency
eg. one watchlist for 'Australian holdings' and a separate watchlist for 'American USD stocks'

Alternatively, when you sign into StockLight with an email address, you can select a default currency in your account settings screen. This can be accessed from the top menu item in your StockLight settings screen after signing in with your email address. If a default currency is selected, the calculations in your portfolio performance screens are adjusted to handle the neccessary conversions if you have holdings from multiple currencies.

Currency configuration

If you are entering trades into your portfolio that were transacted in different currencies, it is your responsibility to convert the transaction price into your default currency when you enter the trade into StockLight.

  1. You sign into StockLight and set your default currency to AUD
  2. You enter your first transaction of ASX:CBA as 100 shares at $72 per share
  3. You also purchased 25 shares of NASDAQ:AAPL at $164 USD per share
    When entering these shares into StockLight, because they were transacted in a different currency (USD), you should convert and enter the transaction price into StockLight as AUD (your default)
    On the day of the AAPL transaction, you look up the historical USD to AUD exchange rate and see that it was 1.4039 and so you enter this transaction into StockLight as:
    25 shares of NASDAQ:AAPL at $230.24 per share (1.4039 × 164 USD = 230.24 AUD)

This will allow the StockLight system to calculate cumulative performance factoring multiple currencies. When showing the current market value for your current holdings, StockLight will be convert them as required into your default currency based on today's exchange rate and the number of shares you hold.

How do I handle dividend reinvestments schemes in my portfolio?

For the time being, you can record reinvested dividends in your StockLight portfolio as separate transactions. Because our ROI calculation factors all dividends as part of your cash return, you can enter each reinvested dividend parcel of shares as a separate transaction.

Say for instance, that you received 2 shares of Woodside Petroleum on September 20th as part of your dividend reinvestment scheme, you would enter those 2 shares as a new 'buy' transaction for that date in your StockLight portfolio with $0 brokerage and a purchase price (eg. $36.70).

When entering DRP share parcels, you can use the closing price for the day the shares were issued as the 'price' paid for the stocks. Even though you haven't technically paid cash for the shares, you have decided to forego a cash dividend in lieu of the DRP and therefore for reporting purposes, you should enter a price paid for the transaction.

I forgot my password?

StockLight doesn't actually use any passwords. All of our member functionality is linked to your email address so that when you provide your email to StockLight, we can send you a verification link. Refer to the above heading for syncing your portfolio.

That said, if you have a paid StockLight subscription, the account that logs in to apply the paid subscription is provided by either Apple's iTunes app or by Google's Play app.
* Note: If you have a paid StockLight premium account, you should be able to determine the email address associated with your iTunes or Google Play by finding an emailed receipt for your StockLight subscription in one of your email inboxes and then using the following instructions for that email address.

If you have forgotten the password for iTunes, try:
iTunes Password reset instructions

If you have forgotten the password for Google Play, try:
Google reset instructions

How do I cancel my subscription?

If you are looking to pause or cancel your subscription, we are really sorry to hear that our app didn't live up to your expectations. We'd love to learn more about what made you use it in the first place and also why it wasn't quite what you were looking for as that feedback will help a lot with guiding our future product development. You can email us your feedback at:

Apple iTunes and Google Play won't allow us to cancel a subscription on your behalf however you can easily do so yourself following these instructions:
Cancelling an Apple iTunes recurring subscription
Cancelling a Google Play recurring subscription

How quickly does StockLight send Alerts?

StockLight will send you an Alert if you haven't exhausted your quota for the month and you are signed into the app with your email address and push notification permission turned on. You receive 5 free alerts per month, 100 per month if you subscribe to StockLight Premium and more are available if you contact our support team. A maximum of 20 custom alerts can be configured.

Price alerts are triggered on an hourly basis due to the computational complexity and load required to calculate these for our entire audience. All other alerts are fired every ten minutes.

How does StockLight handle stock splits?

Stock splits occur when a company issues new shares to it's existing shareholders to boost liquidity. Typically that involves issuing multiple shares for each existing share.

For example, on August 31st, 2020, AAPL split their shares on a four for one basis and Tesla split their shares on a five for one basis.

StockLight handles share splits by publishing split-adjusted share prices and share price history.

TSLA before a stock split:
TSLA before a stock split
TSLA after a stock split:
TSLA after a stock split

If you have recorded transactions of a stock in StockLight and it splits, StockLight will not automatically apply that split to your holdings and this will negatively skew your performance calculations in the app. This is something we plan to fix in a future version of the app however for the time being, if you have holdings in a stock and it splits, you will need to manually adjust your transactions for that holding to reflect the split.

In the following example, a StockLight user visits TSLA in the app, views their holdings, taps the 'BUY TSLA' row to adjust the purchase details, adjusts the Shares value to a multiple of five of what was there previously, adjusts the Price Paid Per Share to a figure that is a fifth of what was there previously, taps save, taps 'NO' on the Purchase Price dialog and then the share calculation is corrected:

TSLA holding after a stock split TSLA holding after a stock split TSLA holding after a stock split TSLA holding after a stock split

Does StockLight provide access to company dividend information?

Yes, you can access this information by tapping a company in your watchlist, you can then swipe scroll down to find the company's dividend history. You can then tap on that dividend panel for more detail. You can also access this information for all companies paying dividends in the weeks and months ahead using the dividends feature located in the market filter screen. This feature allows you to sort by payment date, ex-dividend date, dividend yield and company name.

Why have my portfolio dividends been truncated?

StockLight has been adjusted to only display your 10 most recent dividends in your portfolio screen. For some portfolios with thousands of dividends from hundreds of holdings, our system was slowing down and so we need to introduce a pagination capability for this. It's on the roadmap however we are pretty flat out at the moment so cannot make any guarantees as to the timeline for when this might be introduced.

How does the StockLight indicator work?

The StockLight tachometer provides an instant summary of a company's financial health and prospects as a potential investment

Tapping the StockLight tachometer will drill down to the ratios for a company. These are given a green tick if they look attractive, a red tick if they look unattractive and a yellow marker if there is not enough data available to calculate the indicator.

How do I use the Market Filter?

The Market Filter give investors a picture of the 22 industries that make up the ASX market (based on global GICS codes) from best to worst. For example someone interested in the banking sector can see which companies pass the most green flags at the top of the list down to those that attracted the most red flags. The ratio thresholds are customised and unique for each market sector.

Does StockLight provide detailed company data?

By tapping a company in your watchlist or in the Market Filter, you can drill down to find our latest research on that company, price charts, dividend history and a company overview.

Where can I get support?

If you need help using the application, please email our friendly team at

How much does it cost?

StockLight's basic features are free and it is available to download exclusively through the App Store and Google Play in the Finance category. Users can also unlock additional content or remove advertisements by taking up a StockLight subscription.

Pricing information is available on our pricing page.

What are the current device requirements?

iOS users:
  • iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
  • iOS 8.0 or later
Android users:
  • Android v4.1 or later
All users:
  • WiFi/Edge/3G/4G required for the app to function.