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Operating Earnings


Operating Earnings, often also referred to as operating profit or operating income, is a profitability measure that shows the profit a company generates from its core operations before deducting interest and taxes. It is calculated by subtracting operating expenses such as cost of goods sold, salaries, and rent from the company’s gross profit. This metric helps determine the efficiency and profitability of a company’s regular operations, excluding any extraordinary items or financial activities.


The phonetics of the keyword “Operating Earnings” is:Operating: /ˈɒpəreɪtɪŋ/Earnings: /ˈɜːrnɪŋz/

Key Takeaways

  1. Operating Earnings Definition: Operating earnings are a measure of a company’s profitability from its core business operations, excluding any gains or losses from non-operating activities, extraordinary items or taxes. This financial metric gives investors and stakeholders an insight into the company’s operational performance.
  2. Calculation of Operating Earnings: Operating earnings are usually calculated by subtracting cost of goods sold, operating expenses, and overhead costs from a company’s gross income. It’s often listed as ‘Operating Income’ or ‘Operating Profit’ on the income statement. It’s important to clarify that operating earnings may be different from net income, which counts all forms of revenue and expense.
  3. Importance of Operating Earnings: Investors and analysts often use operating earnings as a more accurate gauge of a company’s financial health than net income. It reflects the profit earned from operations alone and is thus a clearer indication of company performance, especially when comparing across companies within an industry. Changes in operating earnings can reflect changes in the efficiency and profitability of a company’s operations.


Operating earnings is a significant term in business and finance as it specifically reflects a company’s operational performance by indicating the profits earned from regular business operations. It excludes any income or expenses from non-operating activities, interest earnings or expenses, and taxes. By focusing solely on earnings from core business operations, it provides a more accurate picture of a company’s true profitability and financial well-being, thus enabling stakeholders, investors, and analysts to make more informed decisions. Furthermore, comparing operating earnings over different periods can reveal trends in a company’s growth, efficiency, and profitability that are independent of external variables such as tax rates or financial investments.


Operating earnings, also known as operating profit or operating income, is a crucial figure that analysts and investors rely upon to ascertain an organization’s core profitability stemming from its primary operations. It specifically strips out the effects of non-operating activities to provide a sharper focus on the profitability derived from the company’s core business activities. It, therefore, excludes effects such as interest expenses, tax, depreciation, and extraordinary items, ensuring that the analysis remains focused on the company’s operational performance.There are two primary uses of operating earnings. Firstly, it helps investors and analysts compare similar businesses within the same industry. By focusing on earnings strictly from core operations, external variables or nonrecurring events affecting net income do not distort the comparison. Secondly, the figure assists in assessing business operational efficiency. If a company’s operating earnings are growing, it means that the company is managing its costs effectively and successfully enhancing sales revenue – pivotal information for both management decision-making and for the investment community.


Operating earnings, also known as operating profit or operating income, refers to the profit a company makes from its core business functions, excluding the deduction of interest and taxes. It also doesn’t include any profits earned from the company’s investments.1. Amazon Inc: Suppose Amazon reports total revenues of $280 billion for a particular year. If the company’s cost of goods sold is $165 billion and its operating expenses (like R&D, marketing, and administrative costs) are $85 billion, its operating earnings for that year would be $30 billion ($280B – $165B – $85B = $30B). 2. McDonald’s Corporation: Assume McDonald’s reports $20 billion in total revenues for a financial year. If their cost of goods sold is $10 billion and its operating expenses are $7 billion, its operating earnings would amount to $3 billion ($20B – $10B – $7B = $3B).3. Microsoft Corporation: In its fiscal year 2020, Microsoft reported total revenues of $143 billion. If we deduct its cost of goods sold of $46 billion, and other operating expenses including R&D and marketing of say $60 billion, its operating earnings for the year would be $37 billion ($143B – $46B – $60B = $37B).In all three examples, the operating earnings give a gauge of the company’s operational efficiency and profitability from its core business operations.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What are Operating Earnings?

Operating Earnings, also known as operating profit or operating income, is a profitability metric that measures the amount of profit a company makes from its core business operations, before subtracting taxes and interest charges.

Is Operating Earnings the same as Net Income?

No, Operating Earnings and Net Income are not the same. While Operating Earnings exclude taxes and interest costs, Net Income includes all expenses and revenues, both operational and non-operational.

How do you calculate Operating Earnings?

Operating Earnings can be calculated by deducting Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), Selling, General and Administrative Expenses (SG&A), and Depreciation from a company’s gross income.

Why do investors care about Operating Earnings?

Operating Earnings give investors an insight into the core operations of a company. It allows them to see how profitable a company’s main business activities are, without being influenced by financing and taxation variables.

Are Operating Earnings reported in a company’s income statement?

Yes, Operating Earnings are typically reported on a company’s income statement, under the heading ‘Operating Income’ or ‘Operating Profit’.

Can Operating Earnings be negative?

Yes, if a company’s operating expenses exceed its gross profit, Operating Earnings can be negative. This indicates that the company is not making enough money from its core operations to cover its expenses.

How can a company increase its Operating Earnings?

A company can increase its Operating Earnings by either increasing its revenues from the core business operations or by reducing its operating expenses related to producing and selling goods/services.

What is the difference between Operating Earnings and EBIT?

Operating Earnings and EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) are often used interchangeably as both represent earnings from a company’s normal business operations. However, some definitions include other income or expenses in EBIT which are not directly related to the core operations, which are not in Operating Earnings.

Related Finance Terms

  • Operating Income: Also known as operating profit, this term refers to the profit realized from a business’s operations, taking account of all operating expenses including wages, depreciation, and cost of goods sold.
  • EBIT: It stands for “Earnings Before Interest and Taxes” and is a measure of a company’s profit that includes all incomes and expenses (operating and non-operating) except interest expenses and income tax expenses.
  • Gross Profit: This refers to the profit a company makes after deducting the costs directly associated with producing and selling its products or providing its services.
  • Net Income: Also known as the bottom line, net income is the amount left after all operating expenses, interest, and taxes have been deducted from gross revenues.
  • Operating Expenses: These are the costs related to the daily operations of a business, such as salaries, rent, utilities, depreciation, and amortization.

Sources for More Information

InvestopediaCorporate Finance InstituteMy Accounting CourseAccountingTools

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