Distinctions Between Operating and Non-operating Expenses

6 mins read
by Angel One

Operating Expense (OPEX) refers to costs incurred in the usual course of business. It excludes costs such as the cost of goods sold directly tied to product manufacturing or service delivery. They are readily available on the income statement with other costs deducted from operating income to arrive at net profit.

The following are some of the most frequently encountered Operating Expenses

General and Administrative Expenses (SG&A)

Are typically considered “overhead.” Sales commissions, advertisements, promotional materials, rent, utilities, telephone, research, & marketing fall under the SG&A area.

Management Expenses

This category also covers costs associated with management and staff remuneration and various other expenses. They are not included in COGS. This expense category is included in the income statement as an operational expense since it is practically impossible to operate the primary business without incurring these costs.

Labour Costs, Factory Overheads, and Other Expenses

This expense can include costs referred to as COGS (cost of goods sold), including inventory, freight, labour, and manufacturing overhead.

However, it is worth noting that a few other expenses are excluded from OPEX computation because they are deemed unrelated to a business’s essential operations. This category of expenses encompasses charges such as interest.

Or other borrowing charges, one-time settlements, accounting changes, and taxes paid, among others.

Importance and Applications of OPEX

It is necessary to understand this expense since it is a critical component of calculating operating profit, which is then used to determine net profit, another critical component of evaluating a company’s financial performance. The thumb rule is that the smaller a company’s OPEX, the more profitable it is.

The formula for calculating net profit (as is customary) is below.

Profitability is calculated as operating profit fewer taxes paid minus interest expense.


Operating profit = Net sales – cost of goods sold – operating expenses

It is worth noting that various factors can affect this expense, including (but not limited to) pricing strategy, raw material costs, and labour costs.

And so forth. However, because a manager incurs these expenses daily, financial performance based on OPEX can be viewed as a barometer of managerial flexibility and skill, particularly during a challenging economic environment.

Although it is viewed as a proxy for financial performance, it is critical to remember that it varies by industry, some having higher operational expenses than others. Thus, it is more meaningful to compare this expense across firms in the same industry and, therefore, to distinguish between “high” and “low” expenses within that context.

Another intriguing aspect of controlling it is striking the appropriate balance, which can be challenging but can result in huge profits. There are various instances where a business has successfully reduced OPEX to obtain a competitive edge, resulting in greater earnings.

However, it is vital to keep in mind that cutting these costs may compromise product integrity or operational quality, eventually resulting in a loss of the company’s reputation.

Significant OPEX Terms

Some of the phrases associated with this charge are listed below.

Ratio of operating expenses to revenue

It is a metric used to determine how much income is eaten in the usual course of business. It is derived by dividing the operating expenditure of a business by its total revenue or net sales and is then used to compare businesses in the same industry. It is denoted mathematically as,

The ratio of operating expenses to revenue = OPEX / revenue

Profitability of Operations

Operating profit is a metric used to evaluate a company’s financial performance since it reflects the firm’s profit. It is calculated by subtracting OPEX from revenue, such as salary and depreciation.

And the cost of goods sold is deducted from net sales or revenue. Additionally, operating income can be computed from a business’s gross profit.

By deducting all OPEX. Gross profit is equal to net sales minus the cost of goods sold. It is expressed mathematically as,

Operating Profitability = Net Sales – Cost of Goods Sold – Opex.


Operating profit equals gross profit minus capital expenditures.


Gross profit is the difference between net sales and the cost of goods sold from net sales.

What are Non-Operating Expenses?

Non-operating expenses, also known as non-recurring items, are not directly tied to a business’s primary activities and are often included in the income statement for the period below results from continuing operations.

The individual reviewing the business’s financial health often excludes non-operating revenues and expenses to compare year-over-year performance accurately.

The Most Common Non-Operating Expenses (list)

  • Settlements of Lawsuits
  • Investment Losses
  • Costs of Restructuring
  • Gains/Losses on Subsidiary/Asset Sales
  • Inventory tally/Accounts Receivable
  • Fire Damage
  • Expropriation of the business’s assets
  • Losses caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, or tornadoes
  • Gain or loss from early debt repayment
  • Write-off of Intangible Assets
  • Operations Have Come to an End
  • Accounting Principles Changes


The individual studying a business’s financial health often calculates the company’s non-operating expenses and subtracts them from its operating income to evaluate the company’s performance and estimate its maximum prospective earnings.

When non-operating expenses are calculated and presented separately in the company’s income statement, it presents a clear, detailed picture of the company to its stakeholders. It enables a far more accurate assessment of the business’s actual performance. Additionally, if any problem concerning such non-operating expenses arises, it can be brought to the attention of the company’s management.


Certain expenses occasionally confuse the individual’s mind, bifurcating the expense as to whether it should be classified as operational or non-operating. Thus, the individual performing the expense bifurcation should have a thorough understanding of the running and non-operating expenses for the company; only then is it worthwhile to do so.

It takes time and effort to allocate expenses properly on behalf of the individual. For one company, an expense may be non-operating, whereas it may be operating for another. As a result, there is no universally accepted criterion for its splitting.

Significant Points

They are the expenses that occur outside of the company’s everyday operations.

Once the total of all non-operating head items is determined, it is subtracted from the total operating head income to determine the company’s net earnings for that period.

Additionally, these expenses include one-time or unique charges incurred by the business.

When non-recurring expenses are computed and shown separately in the business’s income statement, a clear, thorough picture of the business is presented to all stakeholders.


Due to the uncertainty surrounding certain events, it is entirely conceivable for corporations operating a sound business to suffer exceptional expenses. These expenses are often classified as non-operating expenses because they are not related to the company’s core operations. When non-operating expenses are separated from operating expenses on a company’s income statement, managers, investors, and other stakeholders can accurately assess the business’s actual performance. Suppose any problem with such non-operating expenses occurs. In that case, it can also be brought to the attention of the company’s management so that necessary corrective actions can be taken on time.