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Sortino Ratio: A Critical Tool for Assessing Investment Risk

Introduction to the Sortino Ratio

The Sortino Ratio, a variation of the Sharpe Ratio, measures an investment’s return in relation to its downside risk. Developed by Frank A. Sortino, it specifically focuses on harmful volatility, separating it from positive volatility which isn't considered a risk.

Calculation of the Sortino Ratio

The Sortino Ratio is calculated as: [ ext{Sortino Ratio} = rac{R - T}{D} ] where R is the average return of the investment, T is the minimum acceptable return or benchmark rate (usually the risk-free rate), and D is the downside deviation of the investment’s returns.

Advantages of the Sortino Ratio

This ratio is particularly useful for evaluating an investment’s return compared to its bad risk. It is ideal for assessing investments with asymmetric returns as it considers only harmful volatility in its risk calculations.

Disadvantages of the Sortino Ratio

The Sortino Ratio has its limitations. It depends heavily on the chosen minimum acceptable return, which can be subjective. Moreover, it only considers downside deviation, potentially not reflecting the total risk of an investment.

Comparison with Other Performance Measures

While the Sharpe Ratio measures return per unit of total risk, the Sortino Ratio focuses only on downside risk. The Treynor Ratio, another similar measure, assesses return per unit of systematic risk and, like Sharpe, does not differentiate between upside and downside risk.

Interpreting the Sortino Ratio

A high Sortino Ratio indicates a higher return per unit of downside risk, which is generally preferable. A ratio above 1.00 is good, above 2.00 is very good, and 3.00 or higher is excellent. Conversely, a ratio less than 1.00 is considered poor.

Sortino Ratio Example

To illustrate, consider a mutual fund with an annualized return of 15%, a downside deviation of 10%, and a risk-free rate of 2.5%. The Sortino Ratio for this fund would be calculated as 1.25, indicating a reasonable balance of return and downside risk.


The Sortino Ratio offers a nuanced view of investment risk by focusing on harmful volatility. While not the only tool for making investment decisions, it is invaluable for investors seeking to understand the real risk associated with their investments."