Operating Profit Margin

Calculates the percentage of profit produced by operations before deducting taxes and interest expenses

Author: Ely Karam
Ely  Karam
Ely Karam
Ely Karam, I hold a bachelor's degree in pure mathematics with a minor in business administration at AUB. Currently, I am finishing my master's degree in finance at AUB. As for my experience, I work as an investment analyst full-time and as a financial consultant part-time. I tutor mathematics, financial accounting, and corporate finance as well.
Reviewed By: Hassan Saab
Hassan Saab
Hassan Saab
Investment Banking | Corporate Finance

Prior to becoming a Founder for Curiocity, Hassan worked for Houlihan Lokey as an Investment Banking Analyst focusing on sellside and buyside M&A, restructurings, financings and strategic advisory engagements across industry groups.

Hassan holds a BS from the University of Pennsylvania in Economics.

Last Updated:October 31, 2023

What is Operating Profit Margin?

The operating profit margin of a business sometimes referred to as the profitability or performance ratio calculates the percentage of profit produced by operations before deducting taxes and interest expenses. 

It is calculated by dividing the operating profit by the whole revenue. The margin is the earnings before interest and tax margin (EBIT).

Operating profit margin varies by industry and is sometimes used as a benchmark to compare one firm to another in the same sector. It can highlight the top performers in a particular industry and the need to investigate why a specific business is outperforming or trailing its competitors.

A company's operating margin, commonly referred to as return on sales (ROS), is a trustworthy indicator of how well it is managed and how efficiently it generates profits from sales. 

Because it demonstrates the portion of revenues that may be used to pay non-operating costs like interest, investors and lenders pay particular attention to it.

Operating margins that are very erratic are a vital sign of company risk. The same is true for determining if a company's performance has improved by examining its historical operating margins. 

Better managerial controls, more effective resource usage, better pricing, and more successful marketing may all increase operating profit.

How to Calculate Operating Profit Margin?

The profit margin is calculated using the formula below:

OPM = Operating Earnings / Revenues


Operating earnings = Sales - COGS - operating expenses - Depreciation & Amortization 

An operating margin calculation numerator is a company's earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). 

Revenue less the cost of goods sold and the average selling, general, and administrative costs of running a firm, excluding interest and taxes, is how operating profits, also known as EBIT, are determined.

To illustrate, Suppose a company had $1,830,000 million in revenues, COGS of $780,000, and administrative expenses of $420,000; find the profit margin.

The operating earnings becomes:

1,830,000 - (780,000 + 420,000) = $630,000

The operating profit margin becomes

630,000 /1,830,000 = 0.3443 = 0.3443 x 100 = 34.43%

This means that for every 1$ in revenue, the company makes 0.3443$ in operating profit.

Moreover, we can use the margin formula to find other variables, such as revenues, operating earnings, operating expenses, etc.

For example, XYZ has an operating profit margin of 24%, COGS, amortization and depreciation expense of $457,786, and a revenue of $1,337,580. What are the operational costs?

First, we need to find the operating earnings:

OPM = Operating Earnings / Revenues 

Operating earnings = OPM x Revenues  

Operating earnings = 24% x 1,337,580 = 0.24 x 1,337,580 = 321,019.2

Now, we need to find the operating expenses:

Operating earnings = Revenues - COGS - Amortization & Depreciation - Operating expenses

In this case, COGS, Amortization & Depreciation all together value $457,786

Operating earnings = Revenues - COGS & Amortization & Depreciation - Operating expenses

Operating expenses = Revenues - COGS & Amortization & Depreciation - Operating earnings

Operating expenses = 1,337,580 - 457,786 - 321,019.2  = $558,774.8

How to Use Operating Profit Margin?

As a gauge of a company's capacity for profitability, the operating profit margin differs from the net profit margin. The former, which excludes the cost of financing in interest payments and taxes, is based exclusively on its activities.

The operational profit margin offers information about how the target firm compares to its competitors, mainly how effectively a business controls its costs to optimize profitability. 

The exclusion of interest help account for the repayment capacity, and excluding taxes makes the metric more comparable across businesses with different tax regimes.

Because operational expenditures like wages, rent, and equipment leases are variable rather than fixed, a company's operating profit margin is a good indicator of how well it is run. 

Direct production expenses, such as the price of the raw materials used to make the firm's goods, may be difficult for a corporation to manage.

Limitations of Using the Operating Profit Margin Ratio

There are several reasons why operational profit margins amongst peers differ from one another. For instance, a business using outsourcing may report a different profit margin than a company producing internally.

The depreciation method may result in variations in operating profit margin when comparing businesses. 

Even if there is no improvement in efficiency, a corporation adopting the double-declining balance depreciation approach could declare lower profit margins that rise over time.

On the other hand, unless another element also changes, a corporation utilizing the straight-line depreciation approach would see a constant margin.

Generally, it is essential to keep variables like region, firm size, industry, and business model consistent when considering operating profit margin as a comparison metric across peers. 

Other profitability indicators, such as Gross Profit Margin or Net Profit Margin, as well as other financial metrics, such as leverage, efficiency, and market value ratios, should be taken into account in addition to this one.

The operating margin should only be used to compare companies that operate in the same industry, ideally with comparable business models and yearly sales. 

Comparing operating margins across sectors and business types is pointless because they vary between businesses. Therefore, it would be impossible to compare like with like.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) is a profitability metric that many analysts use to remove the effects of financing, accounting, and tax rules from profitability comparisons between organizations and industries (EBITDA). 

When depreciation is included back in, for example, the operating margins of significant manufacturing firms and heavy industrial businesses are more comparable.

EBITDA is frequently used as a substitute for operational cash flow since it excludes non-cash expenses like depreciation. 

Cash flow, however, is not the same as EBITDA. This is because, unlike operational cash flow, it does not consider any increase in working capital or capital expenditures needed to maintain a company's asset base and continue output.

Operating Profit Margin Ratio Importance

The operating margin is an essential indicator of a business's total operational profitability. It is the proportion of an organization's operational earnings to its revenues.

The operational margin, expressed as a percentage, demonstrates how much profit an organization makes from each dollar of sales after deducting the direct costs associated with generating those revenues. With higher margins, more of every sales dollar is retained as profit.

A firm is considered to have a competitive advantage when its operating margin is higher than the industry average, which indicates that it is more successful than other businesses with comparable operations. 

Although the typical margin for various sectors varies greatly, organizations may generally gain a competitive edge by growing revenue or cutting costs.

However, increasing sales frequently necessitates more considerable expenditures, which results in higher expenses.

Cutting expenses too much might also have unfavorable effects, such as losing competent staff, switching to defective materials, or suffering other quality losses. In addition, sales may suffer if advertising funds are cut.

Expanding is the most excellent course for many firms to lower production costs without compromising quality. 

Economies of scale are when businesses have large-scale production capacities set up, which significantly lowers the incremental costs of production and thus can provide higher margins that allow enterprises to undercut the competition on pricing while maintaining margins.

A high operating ratio implies adverse conditions since it signifies that every dollar of sales is absorbed in costs at a high rate, leaving little room for profits. Operating ratios show the degree of the firm's alliance. 

But in addition to internal variables that management can influence, such as pricing considerations, the high ratio may also result from external factors, such as market factors, which direction finds challenging to control.

When comparing a company's production or sales operating expenditures to those of other companies in the same industry, operating profit margins can also be used to assess if they are unreasonably high or low. 

If the company has a higher operating profit margin than its competitors, management could use a lower pricing strategy to increase market share. OPM affects stock prices.

The desired OPM ratio is net sales less the cost of goods sold divided by net sales. This ratio determines the business's gross profit on each item sold. The problem with this ratio is that it ignores the company's present cost structure and reports the gross profit from sales. 

Operating Profit Margin Vs. Net Profit Margin

Operating and net profit margin (NPM) are two fundamental ratios. 

The net profit margins compute the actual margin gained after considering the impact of interest payments on debt and tax outflows. In contrast, operational margins, as the name implies, refer to the profits earned from the company's primary operations.

The context matters more than the content in the argument between operational profit margin and net profit margin. Sometimes, the NPM is a superior and more dependable metric, and the OPM is a more practical measure.

For example, when discussing a wood firmly, the OPM would only include the earnings made from the wood business. 

In this instance, just the profits from the wood business and the associated expenses from the wood industry will be considered, i.e., the costs for the office employees' salaries are omitted. 

You obtain the net profit margins when non-operating expenses like interest and taxes are also considered. Operating margins measure a company's performance since they also consider unusual costs and earnings.

It's crucial to comprehend how OPM and NPM relate while analyzing businesses. For example, the company's leverage is too high if the NPM is much less than the OPM. As a result, the interest expense consumes most of the operational earnings. 

This is a cue to the firm's management to review its borrowing prices and policies.

In conclusion, OPM is key to understanding how the company manages its operational expenses. Is the business performing better than its competitors, and is there an upward tendency in the OPM? It's a positive indication if the response is "Yes." 

The markets will be interested in the net profit margin, which is the firm's actual profit. In addition, stock markets will focus on NPM values because net profits determine the price-earning ratio. Therefore, growing net profits and increasing NPM are considered positive for the stock's value.

Researched and authored by Ely Karam | LinkedIn

Reviewed and Edited by Aditya Salunke | LinkedIn

Free Resources

To continue learning and advancing your career, check out these additional helpful WSO resources: