An Overview of Operating Income vs Net Income

5 mins read
by Angel One

While both operating income and net income reflect a company’s earnings, they represent significantly different means of expressing a company’s earnings. Both measurements have advantages, but their calculations include distinct deductions and credits. Investors can establish when a company began generating a profit or suffering a loss by analysing two factors.

Profitability in Operating Income

Operating income is the profit earned by an entity after subtracting operating expenses, which are the costs associated with running the business daily. Operating income, synonymous with operating profit, enables analysts and investors to delve deeper into a company’s operational performance after deducting interest and taxes.

Operating income is the net of non-operating income, taxes, and interest expenses. Selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A), depreciation and amortisation, and other running expenses are included in operating expenses. Non recurring transactions such as cash payments made in connection with a litigation settlement are not included. Operating income is determined in the same way as gross profit by deducting operating expenses from gross profit. Gross profit (GP) is the total revenue minus the cost of products sold (COGS).

Profitability in Net Income

Net income is a term that refers to a business’s profits or earnings. Net income is the bottom line since it is the amount of money remaining after all expenses, debts, other revenue streams, and operating costs are deducted. The bottom line is also called net income, shown on the income statement.

Net income is computed by subtracting depreciation, interest, taxes, and other expenditures from operating income. Occasionally, other revenue streams such as interest on investments or revenues from the sale of assets augment profitability.

In a nutshell, net income is the profit remaining after all expenses are subtracted from revenue. Interest on loans, general and administrative expenditures, income taxes, and operating expenses like rent, utilities, and payroll are all expenses.

How is Operating Margin Calculated?

The operating margin of a business is the profit earned after variable production costs are paid but before taxes and interest are paid. It is a good measure of a business’s operational efficiency.

What is the Operating Margin Calculation Formula?

The operating margin of a business is computed by dividing its operating income by its sales revenue.

Profit Margin of Operating Income = Operating Income / Sales Revenue

What Constitutes a Sufficient Operating Margin?

The operating margin varies by industry. Operating margins can vary significantly because capital structures, degrees of competition, and scale economies vary by industry.

A healthy operating margin would be positive and continuously expanding overtime in an ideal world.

It is critical to understand both operating and net income. While operating income reflects the revenue and expenses generated by business operations alone and can provide a clearer picture of your firm’s growth trajectory, net income can reveal the impact of unexpected expenses on your business.

If your operating income is substantial, your business value is likely robust regardless of your net income.

Distinction Between Operating and Net Income

The critical distinctions are as follows:


Operating income is the most crucial element of every company unit’s income statement. This is because it aids in determining the revenue generated by the firm’s primary business operations. It excludes any one-time expense or income. As a result, it is devoid of manipulation and provides a clear view of the business’s operational robustness. Analyses of operating income across consecutive quarters can assist investors in determining the profitability of a business and the long-term growth potential it may bring.

On the other hand, net income is the final profit available to shareholders after deducting all expenses. As a result, it is a bottom-line utilised to distribute dividends. In contrast to operating income, it does not include any one-time expenses or income. Consider a pharmaceutical business that earns a healthy operational profit but is fined by regulators. This one-time payment will not affect operating income but will affect net income and, eventually, shareholder profit. Investors should thoroughly analyse both revenue streams before putting their money.

Taxes and applications

Operating income covers solely money earned and operating costs. Net income accounts for revenue, expenditures, and expenses, accounting for one-time expenses, taxes, and surcharges. As a result, you may occasionally notice a large number on the balance sheet’s operating income column completely wiped out on the bottom line. Because net income indicates a business’s success, it calculates EPS, return on equity, and return on assets. Shareholders are primarily concerned with these ratios since they will assess whether their investments were worthwhile.

Final Remarks

Operating income and net income are critical indicators of a business’s financial health. Long-term investors will be more concerned about the robustness of the firm’s primary business activity. As a result, they will keep a careful check on operating income. On the other hand, short-term traders are more concerned with the bottom line numbers because they determine the profit potential of their speculative position.

In most cases, you will witness a rapid decline in the share price of a publicly-traded company anytime the company suffers a short-term setback, such as losing a lawsuit or being penalised by authorities. Typically, these are overreactions by short-term traders concerned with near-term profitability, and share prices tend to bounce back. For example, the Indian Maggi ban significantly impacted Nestle India Ltd shares, which fell 50% in four weeks before recovering to their starting levels within two quarters.