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I have a table containing the following fields:

Date, PortfolioReturn, CashReturn, Sector1Return,...,Sector10Returns

'PortfolioReturn' is the sum of CashReturn + return contributed from 10 market sectors.

What are some of the industry standard ways to visually present the return contribution by sectors over time?

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you explain what you mean with return contribution? Do you know the weights of the sectors in your portfolio? Cash return = risk free rate? $\endgroup$ – muffin1974 Jun 13 '15 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ For each day, the portfolio return is known and how it's broken down by market sectors and return on any uninvested cash. Here cash return does not imply risk free rate. $\endgroup$ – nitin23 Jun 13 '15 at 22:53
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I would make a cumulative return chart, using a different color for each sector. Each line starts at 1, and each successive point is found by multiplying the previous point by (1+SectorReturn) for that sector. The horizontal axis shows dates. By looking at the lines on this chart you get a visual feel for what sectors performed best overall and also the pattern over time of sector returns.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Alex. I tried this approach but it results in 10 overlapping lines in a plot that just look messy. Not sure how much useful info. it would convey to a viewer. $\endgroup$ – nitin23 Jun 14 '15 at 4:25
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I think that the approach suggested by @Alex is pretty standard and I have seen such charts before but for a less orthodox approach that may clean up the graphics a bit, you might consider the final cumulative return as a segmented bar or pie chart (though I might discourage pie chart). See this example of a segmented bar for what I'm talking about. Each bar could be an annual period.

You may also consider a 100% stacked area, or simple stacked area chart again on cumulative returns.

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