Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. NerdWallet, Inc. does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks, securities or other investments.
Net asset value measures how much an investment fund is worth after subtracting its total liabilities from its total assets. For example, if a mutual fund has $200 million in assets and $20 million in liabilities, its NAV is $180 million. NAV helps set the share price for various types of investment funds, including mutual funds.
NAV meaning and why it matters
NAV helps set the share price for various types of investment funds, including mutual funds. Mutual funds, which sell shares directly to or redeem them from individual investors rather than trading on a stock exchange, must offer shares at a price determined by dividing NAV by the number of outstanding shares. This is called per-share NAV.
Since NAV shifts regularly, mutual funds are required to calculate prices daily. They typically do this after U.S. markets close. If an investor buys or redeems shares during the day, the price of those shares is set by the next NAV calculation. Share prices also include fees.
The market determines share prices for investment funds, such as exchange-traded funds (or ETFs), whose shares are traded on an stock exchange. That means a share could trade for more or less than the company’s net asset value per share. NAV, in this instance, can be used to determine if shares are trading at a premium (above NAV) or at a discount (below NAV).
How to calculate net asset value
As noted above, net asset value is the difference between total assets and liabilities, making it similar to calculating an individual’s net worth or a company’s shareholder equity.
With a mutual fund, assets could include the value of its investments, cash, dividends and receivables. The fund’s liabilities may consist of what it owes for redeemed shares, unpaid management fees and other expenses.
A fund's prospectus includes a statement of assets, and liabilities and historical per-share prices.
The net asset value formula looks like this:
NAV = Total assets - Total liabilities
Then, to calculate the net asset value per share, divide the NAV by the number of outstanding shares.
Per-share NAV = (Total assets - Total liabilities) / Number of outstanding shares