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Operating Income: Meaning and Method to Calculate

Today’s accounting and finance landscape is being modified by the implementation of sought-after technologies. Amidst the changes, operating income remains the heart of business profitability. In fact, analysts and investors continue to evaluate how companies perform and decide when to invest. 

Companies can also monitor their performance and consider their profits or earnings. Using their earnings, they can determine their operations effectively. If you ask what is operating income, it refers to the earnings of a company, excluding taxes and interests. Here, you will understand more about operating expenses in a nutshell. 

Meaning of operating income 

Operating income (or operating profit or recurring profit) is the profit a company earns from the main revenue-generating activities. This is a value that is calculated by subtracting from the revenue that the company makes from its operating expenses. These expenses comprise the costs of goods sold and depreciation besides amortisation expenses and selling and administrative expenses.

In other words, operating income reflects how efficiently and effectively a firm manages its core business activities. This excludes the deductions for non-operational expenses or income. It presents the overall situation of the company with regard to how amazingly its core business is managed. It also evaluates how excellently the company generates profits.

Steps to calculate your company’s operating income

Operating income is computed by removing a business’s total revenue from the prices of goods sold. This equals gross income, and all operating expenditures are deducted. Operating income eliminates taxes, interest income, and costs from investments. It is used to compute the operating margin. So, it indicates a company’s operational performance. Here are the procedures you may take to determine operating income:

Evaluate the formula that you want to use

Three formulas are there that help you calculate the operating income. A simple formula where you will easily be able to use values from the financial statement of the company and find the operating income value:

Operating income is the total gross income minus the operating costs

Here, the gross income is the total money the business has left after subtracting the producing cost of the goods. It’s also referred to as the costs of goods sold. You can easily get the gross income by subtracting COGS from the revenue.

Operating costs include the expenses of conducting business activities like:

  • Employee wages
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Insurance

There are other formulas that you can use to calculate operating income. They are mentioned below:

  • Gross income – The operating expenses – Depreciation – Amortisation or 
  • Revenue – the cost of goods sold – the labour cost – other expenses (for daily purposes)

Find the Values

Based on the formula 

Based on the formula you select for your business operation, you may need various values. The financial statement of the company often includes the values. However, you need to speak to the accounting department to discover more details on the values of the period. 

Compute the amount of the gross income

When you use a simple formula, the foundation step is to calculate gross income to compute the operating income. Here, the gross income is the revenue minus COGS.

Find out the operating costs 

Now, you need to add the operating costs such as insurance, office supplies, and utilities. 

Calculate the operating income

Next, you need to calculate the operating income with the help of a simple formula. Subtract the operating expense from the gross income. Using the operating income formula, you can easily get the value.

Outlining an example of operating income

Companies consider the operating income when they evaluate operational success. Here’s giving one of the major valid operating income examples.

Let’s say company ABC is a drug manufacturing firm that also runs a medical clinic. The operating income rises around 25% every year in such a way that the amount is ₹2500 crores during a financial year’s first two quarters. 

The increase in revenue and operating income is due to the hike in the number of patients coming to the medical clinic within the two quarters. 

Wrapping up

So, operating income is a crucial metric for organisations since it gives useful information about the profitability of primary activities. Companies that effectively calculate and analyse operational income may make better judgments about resource allocation. 

They can better manage costs and perform strategic planning. Furthermore, analysts and investors use operational income to assess a company’s performance. They undertake comparative analysis and invest accordingly. So, understanding and monitoring operational income is crucial for long-term success.


Is there any difference between net operating income vs operating income?

Notably, operating income is the difference between revenue and operating expenses. On the other hand, net income is operating income minus any types of non-operating expenses (such as interest and taxes). The cost of running an enterprise or the operating income includes selling, general & administrative expenses (SG&A) and depreciation and amortisation.

What happens when the operating income is negative?

The income can, of course, be negative. So, the negative operating income gets incurred when a company’s operating expenses are higher than operating revenues. That might result from different aspects – such as production costs, poor sales, competition in pricing, or poor operations.
The company will be unprofitable if it has a negative operating income. The company is unable to pay its expenses for core business activities. It can indicate that financial difficulties, management inefficiency, or industry inadequacy are prime causes. Investors usually view a negative operating income as a warning signal since this means that the investment has underlying risks. So, an investor must understand these better before making any decision.

How does operating income affect investment decisions?

Operating income affects investment decisions in a wide range of ways. This type of income represents the establishment’s profit from the core operations, excluding taxes and interest. It influences your investment decision and serves as a crucial metric for evaluating the company’s financial health.
The higher the operating income, the greater the operational efficiency and the stronger the revenue generation. In short, it makes the company attractive to investors who seek a stable income (return, to be more specific). It offers insight into the business’s ability to cover service debt and expenses while helping the business reinvest in other areas. Investors may use trends in operating income and compare them to make a better decision ahead.

Is operating income bad or good?

Operating income is neither necessarily good nor negative; it’s a perspective from which a company can understand the results of their operations. Positive operational income shows successful operations and earnings. What it implies is that the business is capable of covering expenditures and producing returns for investors.
Negative operational income, on the other hand, indicates problems, such as excessive costs or low revenues. Investors use operational income and other financial parameters to evaluate a company’s performance and make educated decisions regarding its future development and profitability.

How do you calculate operating income?

You can calculate operating income by deducting operating expenses like wages, depreciation, and cost of goods sold. So, the calculation for operating income is gross income minus operating expenses. 

What is the difference between operating income vs EBITDA?

EBITDA is a company’s basic profitability. It gets calculated by adding interest, depreciation, amortisation expenditures, and tax to net income. On the other hand, operating income is a company’s real earnings after deducting operational expenses associated with business operations.

What does the net operating income approach indicate?

The net operating income approach indicates that the firm’s market value is not affected by the capital structure. So, this value and cost of capital remains the same regardless of the debt proportion.

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