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Operating Margin

Updated: Apr 26

The operating margin measures how much profit a company makes on a dollar of sales after paying for variable costs of production, such as wages and raw materials, but before paying interest or tax. It is calculated by dividing a company’s operating income by its net sales. Higher ratios are generally better, illustrating the company is efficient in its operations and is good at turning sales into profits.


Highly variable operating margins are a prime indicator of business risk. By the same token, looking at a company’s past operating margins is a good way to gauge whether a company's performance has been getting better. The operating margin can improve through better management controls, more efficient use of resources, improved pricing, and more effective marketing.


In its essence, the operating margin is how much profit a company makes from its core business in relation to its total revenues. This allows investors to see if a company is generating income primarily from its core operations or from other means, such as investing.


Calculating the Operating Margin

Operating Margin = Operating Earnings / Revenue

When calculating operating margin, the numerator uses a firm's earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). EBIT, or operating earnings, is calculated simply as revenue minus cost of goods sold (COGS) and the regular selling, general, and administrative costs of running a business, excluding interest and taxes.


Source: Investopedia, Operating Margin: What It Is and the Formula for Calculating It, With Examples, accessed 25 December 2023, <https://www.investopedia.com/terms/o/operatingmargin.asp>

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