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Degree of Operating Leverage


The Degree of Operating Leverage is a financial ratio that measures the sensitivity of operating income to changes in sales volume.It indicates how much a certain percentage change in sales volume will affect operating income. A high degree of operating leverage implies that a large percentage of a company’s total costs are fixed costs, thus a small change in sales volume can lead to a large change in operating income.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Degree of Operating Leverage” is: Dih-gree ov Op-uh-ray-ting Leh-vuh-rij

Key Takeaways

  1. Impact on Operating Income: Degree of Operating Leverage demonstrates how a company’s operating income can be affected by changes in sales. A higher leverage ratio indicates a greater sensitivity of operating income to fluctuations in sales.
  2. Fixed and Variable Costs: Companies with higher fixed costs tend to have a higher Degree of Operating Leverage. This is because fixed costs remain constant, regardless of production levels. As a result, a small increase in sales volume can significantly increase operating income.
  3. Risk Assessment: While high Degree of Operating Leverage can lead to high profitability during favorable market conditions, it can also increase business risk in unfavorable market conditions. Understanding the Degree of Operating Leverage help companies to manage risks associated with fluctuations in sales volumes.


The Degree of Operating Leverage is an important business/finance term as it measures a company’s ability to increase profitability by boosting sales. It highlights the relationship between business risk and profitability, indicating how much the company relies on fixed costs. A high degree of operating leverage means the company has a large proportion of fixed costs, which can lead to significant profit increases with a rise in sales. However, it also signifies higher risk as the company must cover these costs even in periods of low sales. Therefore, understanding the Degree of Operating Leverage can help investors and managers evaluate a company’s risk and profitability potential.


The Degree of Operating Leverage is a financial indicator that measures a company’s ability to use fixed costs to increase profits, by determining the relationship between the fixed and variable costs used in production. It is primarily utilized to analyze the risk and return of different cost structures, as it helps to exhibit how the company’s operating income reacts to shifts in sales. This makes it a valuable tool for forecasting how changes in sales levels would impact the business’s profitability.Moreover, the Degree of Operating Leverage also helps companies make informed strategic decisions regarding price, volume, and cost. If a company possesses a high degree of operating leverage, it indicates that a large portion of its costs are fixed. Thus, a slight increase in sales could significantly boost profits. Conversely, if sales decrease, it may lead to substantial losses. Understanding the degree of operating leverage is hence extremely beneficial in assessing the business’s potential vulnerability to swings in sales volume and planning accordingly to maximize profitability.


1. Manufacturing Industry: Consider a car manufacturer. If the manufacturer largely relies on automated machinery for production, this presents a high degree of fixed costs (cost of machinery, rent for the factory space, etc.). The Operating Leverage in this case is high as these costs will remain the same regardless of the number of cars produced. If the company successfully increases car sales without having to increase its production costs, the degree of operating leverage allows it to make significant profit increases.2. Airline Industry: In this industry, significant fixed costs include purchasing or leasing airplanes, hangar space, and maintaining safety standards. These costs remain constant regardless of the quantity of flights or passengers. If an airline can fill more seats and increase flights without having to purchase more planes, it stands to benefit greatly from its high operating leverage.3. Tech Companies: Software or tech companies often have a high degree of operating leverage because they invest a significant amount of money upfront in research and development (fixed cost). Once the software or tech product is developed, the cost to reproduce it is often minimal. Thus, if the company can widely sell its product without increasing its production cost, they stand to strongly profit from their high degree of operating leverage. For example, once Microsoft develops the Windows Operating System, every copy it sells increases profits without adding to the fixed costs.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Degree of Operating Leverage?

The Degree of Operating Leverage (DOL) is a financial ratio that measures the sensitivity of a company’s operating income, also known as EBIT, to its sales volume. It helps to determine the effect of a change in sales on a company’s profit.

How is the Degree of Operating Leverage calculated?

DOL is calculated by this formula: Percentage change in Operating Profit (EBIT) / Percentage change in sales

Why is the Degree of Operating Leverage important?

It is significant as it helps a company predict how changes in sales volume will affect operating income. Higher degree of operating leverage implies a higher level of operating risk, as a small decrease in sales can lead to a larger decrease in profitability.

What does a higher Degree of Operating Leverage mean?

A higher DOL indicates a greater sensitivity of operating income to changes in sales. This could mean higher profitability potential with increased sales, but also higher risk if sales decrease.

Is a high Degree of Operating Leverage considered good or bad for a company?

It depends on the situation. A high DOL can be advantageous when a company has strong sales growth, as this can lead to exponential increases in profits. However, it can also be a disadvantage if the company faces declining sales, as this could result in exponential decreases in profit.

How can a company decrease its Degree of Operating Leverage?

A company can decrease its DOL by lowering its fixed costs and increasing its variable costs. This reduces the sensitivity of EBIT to changes in sales volume.

How does the Degree of Operating Leverage affect a firm’s break-even point?

A higher degree of operating leverage increases the firm’s break-even point, which means it needs higher sales to cover fixed and variable costs.

Can companies in the same industry have different Degrees of Operating Leverage?

Yes, even companies in the same industry can have different DOLs because of the different business models, cost structures, and strategies they adopt.

Related Finance Terms

  • Fixed Costs: These are the costs that remain constant regardless of the level of output or production in a company. They play a significant role in determining the Degree of Operating Leverage.
  • Variable Costs: Unlike fixed costs, these costs vary depending on the level of output or production. They have an inverse relationship with the Degree of Operating Leverage.
  • Contribution Margin Ratio: This ratio is calculated by dividing the contribution margin (sales minus variable costs) by sales revenue. It is used in the calculation of the Degree of Operating Leverage.
  • Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT): Also known as operating income, EBIT is a measure of a firm’s profit that includes all incomes and expenses (operating and non-operating) except interest expenses and income tax expenses.
  • Break-Even Point: It’s the point where total cost equals total revenue. Beyond this point, the company starts making a profit. The Degree of Operating Leverage can have a significant impact on it

Sources for More Information

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