Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Operating Margin


Operating margin, also known as operating profit margin, refers to a profitability measure in financial accounting. It is calculated by dividing the operating profit (earnings before interest and taxes) by the total revenue, then multiplying the result by 100 to get a percentage. It essentially shows what proportion of revenue is left over after paying for variable costs of production such as wages, raw materials etc.


The phonetics of the keyword “Operating Margin” is: ˈɑ·pəˌreɪ·t̬ɪŋ ˈmɑːr·dʒɪn

Key Takeaways

Sure, here you go:“`html

  1. Profitability Indicator: The Operating Margin is a profitability ratio that provides insights into a company’s operating efficiency and pricing strategy. A higher operating margin signifies a more profitable company with better control over its costs.
  2. Comparative Analysis Tool: It is typically used to compare the profitability of companies within the same industry, where a company with a higher operating margin is generally considered better positioned and more capable of paying for its own operations and growth.
  3. Vulnerable to Cost Fluctuations: However, it’s important to know that operating margin is subject to business risks, including changes in costs or sales volume. Meaning that positive operating margin doesn’t always guarantee overall financial health, as it doesn’t take into account other expenses such as taxes and interests.

“`Please replace the text within the tags with the information you need.


Operating margin is a crucial business/finance term as it provides a detailed insight into a company’s operational efficiency and profitability by comparing its revenue with its operational costs. Essentially, operating margin is the profit a company makes from its core operations, excluding any extraordinary items such as interest expense and taxes. The higher the operating margin, the more profitable a company’s core business is, which indicates strong financial management. It is an essential tool for investors and stakeholders to compare the company’s profitability with competitors and assess its financial health over time. In essence, operating margin reflects the part of each dollar of revenue that a company retains as operational profit.


The primary purpose of the operating margin is to measure a company’s operational efficiency and profitability. It essentially reflects how much profit a company is able to generate from its operations for each dollar of sales, prior to factoring in interest and tax expenses. This is crucial for investors and analysts because it provides insights into the company’s core business operations, excluding external factors like taxes and borrowing activities that may also affect profitability.The operating margin is instrumental for making comparative analyses as well. For instance, it can be used to compare the performance of companies within the same industry, or across different industries. It helps determine which companies are managing their operating costs effectively and which ones are not. Overall, it isn’t just a measure of efficiency, but can also serve as a determinant of a company’s pricing strategy and operational leverage, indicating the robustness of the business model.


1. Apple Inc.: Apple, a leading tech giant, has historically had a high operating margin due to its competitive advantage and high demand for its premium products. In 2020, its operating margin was reported to be about 24.15%. This means that for every dollar Apple earns, it makes about 24 cents in profit before interest and taxes.2. Walmart: Walmart, a prominent name in the retail industry, had an operating margin of around 4% in 2020. This relatively low margin reflects the nature of the retail industry, which is characterized by high volumes, low prices, and hence, lower profit margins.3. Tesla Inc.: The electric vehicle and clean energy company Tesla had an operating margin of around -0.7% in 2019. This suggested that the company was not making a profit from its operations during that time period, instead, it was operating at a loss. This can be common in industries like auto manufacturing where heavy investments in research and development, along with production costs, often outweigh profits in early stages or during certain periods.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Operating Margin?

Operating Margin is a performance measure used to assess a company’s pricing strategy and operating efficiency. It’s a profitability ratio showing what percentage of a company’s revenue remains after paying for variable costs of production, such as wages and raw materials.

How is Operating Margin calculated?

Operating Margin is calculated by subtracting operating expenses from revenues and dividing by the revenues amount.

What does a high operating margin mean?

A high operating margin usually indicates that a company is well managed and has good cost control. It suggests the company is earning enough to cover its operating expenses and generate profit.

Is a high or low operating margin better?

Generally, a high operating margin is better because it means the company is able to earn more profit for every dollar of sales.

What factors can affect operating margin?

Operating Margin can be influenced by several factors, including pricing strategy, product costs, overhead costs, and operational efficiency.

How can a company improve its operating margin?

Improvements in operating margin can be achieved through cost reduction, price improvements, efficient operations, and increasing revenue.

Is Operating Margin the same as Profit Margin?

No, Operating Margin only takes into account the costs directly involved in producing and selling goods or services while Profit Margin takes all costs and expenses into account, including taxes and interest expenses.

Why is Operating Margin important to investors?

The Operating Margin is crucial for investors as it provides insights into how efficiently a company is operating. It can also offer a glimpse into the company’s potential for long-term profitability and financial stability.

What is a good operating margin?

A good operating margin varies across different industries. However, a general rule of thumb is that a good operating margin is higher than 10%.

: Can Operating Margin be negative?

Yes, an operating margin can be negative if a company’s operating expenses exceed gross profit. This could indicate a company is struggling to manage its costs or isn’t generating sufficient sales.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More