What Is an Operating Margin?

What Is an Operating Margin?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

An Operating Margin is a metric used in financial analysis to measure a company’s profitability. It’s often expressed as a percentage and calculated by dividing a company’s operating income by its net sales. Operating income, often known as operating profit, is the income left after deducting direct costs of goods sold (COGS) and all operating expenses from revenues. These expenses could include selling and administrative expenses, but do not include interest expenses or taxes. The higher a company’s operating margin, the more profitable it is. A high operating margin means that the company has lower fixed cost and a better control over its costs compared to its competitors.

Related Questions

1. How is operating margin different from profit margin?

Profit margin is different from operating margin because it takes into account all expenses, not just operating ones. Profit margin considers non-operating expenses such as interest and taxes, while operating margin only focuses on costs related directly to production.

2. Why is operating margin important?

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Operating margin provides insights into how efficiently a company is running. A high operating margin indicates good management and could suggest a competitive advantage. It shows how much profit a company makes on every dollar of sales after paying for variable costs of production.

3. How can a company improve its operating margin?

A company can improve its operating margin by increasing its sales revenue, reducing COGS, or lowering its operating costs. This could be done through economies of scale, innovation, or improving operational efficiency.

4. Are higher operating margins better?

Generally, yes. A higher operating margin indicates that the company has strong pricing power and effective cost management. It’s also an indication of financial stability as a high operating margin allows the company to withstand economic downturns better.

5. What does a negative operating margin mean?

A negative operating margin means a business is not profitable from its core operations. It suggests that the costs of producing and selling products or services exceed the revenue earned from those activities. This situation can be due to several reasons and if it continues, the company could be in danger of bankruptcy.