Unlock the Secrets of a Good Profit Factor in Trading!

Do you know what a good profit factor in trading is?  Do you know how to calculate or what it means?  In this blog post we’ll discuss what an equity curve is, calculating profit factors and why they’re important.  We will also discuss what a good profit factor is so you can evaluate the strategies you are currently using.

What You Will Learn

What is an Equity Curve?

An equity curve shows the performance of a trading strategy over time and can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a trading system and to compare different strategies.. It plots the cumulative profits or losses of a trading system as it trades through different market conditions.

A good profit factor will have a certain “look” when you see the equity curve of the tested strategy.

what is a good profit factor in trading
Ideal Equity Curve

The shape of an equity curve will vary depending on how successful the strategy has been in making money from the markets.

  • A flat trajectory suggests no gains or losses
  • A curved line indicates profits that either increase or decrease

An equity curve can be used to visually gauge the efficacy of a given strategy, allowing traders to determine whether modifications should be made.. By comparing different strategies side by side, traders can also see which one is more profitable and decide which one they should focus on.

Traders may look at individual trade results when analyzing their equity curves to identify any patterns that could help inform future decisions about what type of trades they should take.. For example, if you notice that your winning trades tend to occur after certain news events  then this could indicate that you should focus on taking those types of trades more often than others.

Traders may also use their equity curves as part of risk management practices such as setting stop loss levels based on historical drawdowns (the maximum amount lost during any given period).

This helps ensure that even if there are some losing streaks, your account won’t suffer much damage due to excessive risk taking since you’ll know when it is time to pull out before things get bad.

Key Takeaway: A good profit factor in trading is determined by analyzing the shape of an equity curve, which can help traders identify patterns to inform future decisions and manage risk.

What Is A Profit Factor?

The profit factor is defined as a division of the overall gross profits divided by the gross loss over a defined period.  Profit factor is a metric used to measure the profitability of a trading system.   A higher profit factor implies that profits have been greater than losses, while a lower one suggests losses are more common.

A profit factor of 2:  for every dollar lost in trades taken by this system, two were made; thus yielding a profit factor of 2 ($10K/$5K). This would indicate that this trading system has been successful overall.

A profit factor of 1:  the trading strategy is neither profitable nor unprofitable, but rather has a break-even outcome.

A value less than 1 is a losing strategy and one you should avoid.

The calculation of Profit Factor can be useful when comparing different systems or strategies as it gives an indication of which one has a higher probability of being profitable over time with less drawdowns.

For instance one strategy may have achieved greater returns but at higher levels drawdown compared to another which could lead to lower overall profitability or longer losing streaks. By looking at their respective Profit Factors you can decide which strategy is more suitable for your goals and whether you can stand large drawdowns.

A higher Profit Factor does not always ensure better performance. Past performance should not be used as the sole determining factor when making decisions; rather, it should serve as a guide.


Key Takeaway: Profit factor is a useful metric for comparing different trading systems and strategies. Past performance may offer guidance, it is not predictive of future outcomes.

How to Calculate Profit Factor?

The formula for calculating profit factor is simple: take the gross profits generated by the system and divide by losses (including commissions) from all trades.

A trader has used a particular strategy for 50 trades and has the following results:

  • Total profits: $10,000
  • Total losses: $5,000

To calculate the profit factor, we divide the total profits by the total losses:

Profit Factor = Total Profits / Total Losses Profit Factor = $10,000 / $5,000 Profit Factor = 2.0

The profit factor for the trading strategy is 2.0.

PROFIT FACTOR CALCULATIONA higher profit factor does not necessarily mean more money will be earned; rather it indicates the degree that winning trades are greater than the losing trades.  A trader may still experience periods of drawdown even with a high profit factor due to market conditions or other factors outside of their control such as news events or economic data releases.

When looking at historical performance data, it is easy to spot patterns which suggest whether there is an edge present within the trading system used. These patterns can be seen when profitable streaks outnumber losing ones over time, resulting in positive expectancy figures across multiple trade sizes and markets traded simultaneously (multi-market analysis).

The same applies for automated strategies where back testing results show consistent returns despite changing market conditions over long periods of time.  This indicates that the trading strategy is robust.


Key Takeaway: Profit factor is an important metric for traders to understand and track, as it can give insight into the success of their strategy over time. A higher profit factor does not mean more money will be earned but rather that that the losing trades impact on profits is not that large.

What is a Good Profit Factor In Trading?

Most traders look for systems with a minimum profit factor of 1.2 or higher; however, some traders may prefer systems with a higher PF such as 2 or 3.

Just because a system has a high Profit Factor doesn’t mean it will continue to perform well. Market conditions change all the time so it’s always best to test any new strategy before committing real money into it.

Additionally, even if you have found success with one particular strategy don’t get complacent – make sure you are constantly monitoring its performance and adjusting as needed.

There are other factors worth taking into account too such as drawdown percentage (the maximum amount lost at any point) and Sharpe ratio (which measures how much return was earned per unit of risk taken).

Weighing all metrics in combination to create strategy performance reports can help you find the right trading plan, based on your objectives and risk tolerance.

Key Takeaway: The Profit Factor is a key metric to assess when assessing trading systems, yet not the only one. Make sure to also take into account drawdown percentage and Sharpe ratio before committing real money into a strategy.

Why Is Profit Factor Important?

Profit factor is an important metric in trading because it provides a simple and effective way to measure the effectiveness of a trading strategy.

By using the profit factor, traders can compare different trading strategies and determine which ones are likely to be more profitable over the long term. This can help traders to make better decisions about which strategies to use, can lead to higher returns, and a more successful trading career.

Some trading systems may have very high profit factors but still not perform well due to their lack of consistency or predictability over time.  This happens during system design when a trader “curve fits” the data to ensure a result from the tested system. You must understand how reliable any particular system has been designed and tested before you commit real money to it.

Key Takeaway: Profitability should be considered when selecting a strategy, yet the consistency of the system must also be taken into account.


What is considered a good profit factor in trading?

A good profit factor in trading is a measure of how profitable a strategy or system is.  A higher profit factor indicates that more profits are being made than losses, and vice versa for lower values. Generally, a profit factor above 1.5 is deemed favorable, although this can fluctuate depending on the trading style and other variables such as risk appetite.

Is a profit factor of 1.5 good?

A 1.5 profit factor is thought to be favorable, suggesting that profits have outweighed losses.. Other elements such as risk control and diversification may have an effect on total profitability. Traders should take into account all elements in gauging the effectiveness of their trading plans before determining if a 1.5 profit factor a reliable calculation.

Is profit factor 1.2 good?

The strategy is profitable, but it may have a higher risk of ruin due to a lower profit factor.  The low profit factor means that it may not be the most profitable strategy, and it may not be as reliable or robust as strategies with higher profit factors.  1.2 PF leaves little room for error and could be adversely affected by harsh trading conditions.

What does profit factor tell you?

Profit factor tells traders how effective and profitable a trading strategy has been over time. A higher profit factor indicates a more profitable strategy. By focusing on strategies with a high profit factor, traders can improve their chances of success over the long term and in different trading conditions.


Understanding the concept of profit factor is key to success. Knowing what an equity curve and a good profit factor are, how to calculate it, and why it’s important will help traders make better decisions when trading stocks or options.

Opting for higher profit factors is something most traders may want to consider.  With this knowledge in hand, traders can use their own data to evaluate their strategies and maximize profits by little tweaks to their plan. A good profit factor in trading is essential for successful trades.

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Author: CoachShane
Shane his trading journey in 2005, became a Netpicks customer in 2008 needing structure in his trading approach. His focus is on the technical side of trading filtering in a macro overview and credits a handful of traders that have heavily influenced his relaxed approach to trading. Shane started day trading Forex but has since transitioned to a swing/position focus in most markets including commodities and futures. This has allowed less time in front of the computer without an adverse affect on returns.