Interpreting Profit Margin – Standalone or Comparison Basis

Profit Margin sign

Undoubtedly, an organization is most interested in how much it is able to generate gross profits. By definition, profit margin is the total amount that a business generates when its revenues generated from the overall sales exceeds the total cost of the sales. Profit is important for a company for multiple reasons. It is common knowledge that the purpose of every small or big business is to make profits. Without profits, a company doesn’t survive because the employers would not be able to pay its employees, suppliers, and investors. Even if companies can pay them, they will not be able to invest in attractive projects because they would not have enough money. Interpreting profit margin is highly important for any company because most of its financial and non-financial decisions depends on its financial prosperity. Similarly, profit margin measures how successful a firm will be in its business of making profits on each dollar of sales.

Regardless of their size and operations, most companies rely on sales for tracking their sales revenues, but knowing the sales revenue alone does not clearly indicate how a company is performing financially. On the other hand, organizations also use bookkeeping as a source for analyzing how the company is performing in terms of its finances. Generally, companies keep track of their spending and revenue through bookkeeping. The major benefit of bookkeeping is that it allows you to make a meaningful financial comparison. A well-designed and comprehensive bookkeeping system allows organizations to analyze their overall business spending and revenue. To obtain a detailed analysis, data can grouped by years, quarters, months, and even weeks.

Profit margin is sometimes referred to as “net profit margin” which displays the big picture of organizational profitability. The formula to calculate profit margin is dividing the net income by revenues or simply dividing the net profits by sales. For instance, a company that has $400,000 in sales and $10,000 in monthly net income has a net profit margin of 25% = $10,000 / $400,000 = 0.025. This means that a company has 25% of net income for every dollar of sales. Two of the most widely used methods for interpreting profit margin are standalone and comparison analysis.

Standalone Alaysis

When determining standalone profits, managers and accountants analyze all the profits generated by a single firm which is usually their own firm. In other terms, only those values are generated that are generated from the organizational operations. The major benefit of analyzing profit margin from standalone method is that it allows finance managers to evaluate the independent value of the organization. The analysis provides an explicit image of the earning power of a business entity by incorporating its costs and revenues that are linked with the business. The standalone method of interpreting profit margins enables organizations to observe its complete financial health as if it constitutes a chain of totally independent organizational activities. 

Comparison Analysis

When discussing profitability from a broader perspective, a number of companies use percentages more frequently than raw facts and figures. In the hyper competitive business environment, you cannot rely only on a standalone analysis because you must have knowledge about the external business environment and how it is performing. In order to gain better knowledge, organizations frequently use percentages because it enables you to make a comparison among several companies.

While it is very useful to use profit margin to compare the financial performance of different companies, it is highly important that all of the companies being compared operate in a common industry and incorporate similar business models. The simple reason behind this logic is that organizations operating in diverse industries have implemented different business models with unique revenue streams. As a consequence, companies may have huge differences in profit margin which will be meaningless.

In both cases, the analysis will allow you to interpret the current standing of the business in terms of financial health. When an organization is able to get an accurate idea of its profitability, it will be able to discover ways to cut back on expenditures and enhance profitability. Additionally, when an organization is able to improve its profit margin, there will be less pressure and a better environment.

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