Operating income

Page written by AI. Reviewed internally on February 13, 2024.


Operating income, also known as operating profit or operating earnings, is a key financial metric that represents the profit a company generates from its core business operations.

What is an operating income?

The operating income reflects the income derived from a company’s primary activities before considering interest expenses and taxes.

Here are some key points about operating income:

1. Core business activities: Operating income excludes income from non-operating sources, such as investments, interest, and one-time gains or losses. It focuses solely on the revenue and expenses directly related to the company’s primary operations.

2. Calculation: Operating income is calculated by subtracting the operating expenses (such as cost of goods sold, selling, general and administrative expenses) from the gross income. The formula is:

Operating income = gross income – operating expenses

3. Key component of income statement: Operating income is a prominent line item in a company’s income statement (also known as profit and loss statement). It provides insight into the profitability of a company’s core operations.

4. Margin analysis: Operating income margin is a useful ratio that expresses operating income as a percentage of total revenue. It indicates how efficiently a company is able to convert its sales into profit before interest and taxes.

5. Assessment of operational efficiency: A positive operating income indicates that a company’s core operations are profitable. It’s an important measure for evaluating the efficiency and profitability of a company’s day-to-day business activities.

6. Use in financial analysis: Investors and analysts often use operating income to assess a company’s financial performance, especially when comparing it to industry peers. It helps in understanding the relative efficiency of different businesses.

7. Excludes interest and taxes: Operating income excludes interest expenses and taxes, as these are considered financial costs not directly related to the operational performance of the business.

8. Focus on sustainability: Operating income is a key indicator of a company’s ability to sustain profitability over the long term. It assesses the profitability of the company’s core operations, which are crucial for its ongoing viability.

Understanding a company’s operating income is essential for investors, creditors, and analysts as it provides insights into the profitability of a company’s core operations and its ability to generate profits from its primary business activities.

Example of operating income

Let’s consider a fictional company, XYZ Electronics, which manufactures and sells electronic gadgets. In a given year, XYZ Electronics generates £2,000,000 in revenue from selling its products. The company incurs various operating expenses directly related to its core business operations totalling £1,500,000.

To calculate the operating income for XYZ Electronics, we subtract the total operating expenses from the revenue:

Operating Income = £2,000,000 – £1,500,000 = £500,000

Therefore, the operating income for XYZ Electronics is £500,000. This represents the profit earned by the company from its primary business activities before deducting interest and taxes.

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