Comparing XIRR and CAGR

When evaluating investments or assessing the performance of financial assets, two essential metrics often come into play: CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) and XIRR (Extended Internal Rate of Return). These metrics are fundamental in providing insights into the growth and profitability of investments, yet they differ in their approach and application.

What is CAGR and XIRR?

CAGR, short for Compound Annual Growth Rate, is a measure used to determine the mean annual growth rate of an investment over a specified period, assuming that the investment's value has compounded steadily over time. It provides a smoothed annual growth rate, assuming a constant growth rate year over year. On the other hand,

XIRR, or Extended Internal Rate of Return, is a more complex metric that considers irregular cash flows and their timing. Unlike CAGR, which assumes a regular growth rate, XIRR accommodates varying cash inflows and outflows at different points in time. It is beneficial in evaluating investments or projects with non-uniform cash flows.

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of XIRR and CAGR
Benefits of XIRR

Precision: Takes into account the precise time and magnitude of cash flows, providing a more accurate assessment for assets with erratic cash flows.

Versatility: Adaptable to various financial instruments, it can handle intricate situations such as non-uniform cash flows.

Drawbacks of XIRR

Complex Calculation: Completing an iterative calculation can be a complex operation that calls for financial instruments or software.

Sensitive to Inputs: The computed rate of return is greatly impacted by the accuracy of the input data.

Benefits of CAGR

Simpleness: Provides a rapid, easy-to-understand yearly growth rate computation that is appropriate for investments with steady development trends.

Drawbacks of CAGR

Excessive simplification: Neglects the magnitude and timeliness of cash flows, which restricts the use of assets with erratic cash flows.

Restricted Applicability: This may not be appropriate for sophisticated financial products or investments where the timing of cash flows significantly affects results.

Differences between XIRR and CAGR
  1. Treatment of Cash Flows:
    • CAGR: assumes a steady growth rate and does not consider the timing or size of cash flows. It works best when investments have a consistent growth pattern.
    • XIRR: considers the exact timing and size of cash flows, making it suitable for investments with irregular or non-periodic cash flows.
  2. Handling of Timing:
    • CAGR: is a simpler metric that calculates the average annual growth rate over a specific period, assuming a consistent growth rate.
    • XIRR: calculates the rate of return based on the actual dates and amounts of cash flows, providing a more accurate representation of investment performance in cases of irregular cash flows.
  3. Applicability:
    • CAGR: is commonly used for evaluating investments where the growth pattern is relatively stable and uniform, such as in some stocks or funds.
    • XIRR: is more versatile and applicable in situations involving complex investments, projects, or financial instruments with irregular cash flows, like real estate or bonds with varying coupon payments.


Deciding between CAGR and XIRR depends on the nature of the investment or financial analysis being conducted. If the investment exhibits consistent growth patterns and regular cash flows, CAGR can provide a quick and straightforward measure of annual growth. However, for investments with irregular cash flows or varying growth rates, XIRR offers a more accurate representation of performance.


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