What is Return on Sales? Definition

Earnings Before Interest and Tax
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Mariu Vallejo, Danmark

What is Return on Sales? Definition

Also the term Return on Sales is often used to indicate EBIT, Operating profit, or Operating Earnings.

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

ROS versus EBIT

Indeed in accounting and finance Return On Sales (ROS) is almost always the same as profit margin. Each term refers to a financial profitability ratio that shows the average profit earned on the average dollar of revenue. While there could be small differences based on the specific inputs used, ROS and profit margin can be considered interchangeable figures.

ROS is a ratio widely used to evaluate an entity's operating performance. It is also known as "operating profit margin" or "operating margin". ROS indicates how much profit an entity makes after paying for variable costs of production such as wages, raw materials, etc. (but before interest and tax). It is the return achieved from standard operations and does not include unique or one of transactions. ROS is usually expressed as a percentage of sales (revenue).

Return on sales (operating margin) can be used both as a tool to analyze a single company's performance against its past performance, and to compare similar companies' performances against one another. The ratio varies widely by industry but is useful for comparing different companies in the same business. As with many ratios, it is best to compare a company's ROS over time to look for trends, and compare it to other companies in the industry. An increasing ROS indicates the company is becoming more efficient, while a decreasing ratio could signal looming financial troubles. Though, in some instances, a low return on sales can be offset by increased sales.

Calculations of ROS commonly use operating profit before deducting interest and tax (EBIT); using income after-tax is less common.

ROS = EBIT / Revenue.


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