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Investing Answers Building and Protecting Your Wealth through Education Publisher of The Next Banks That Could Fail

Gross Profit Margin

What it is:

Gross profit margin is a profitability ratio that measures how much of every dollar of revenues is left over after paying cost of goods sold (COGS).

How it works (Example):

Gross profit margin is calculated by subtracting cost of goods sold (COGS) from total revenue and dividing that number by total revenue.


The top number in the equation, known as gross profit or gross margin, is the total revenue minus the direct costs of producing that good or service. Direct costs (COGS) do not include operating expenses, interest payments and taxes, among other things.

To illustrate, let's say Company ABC makes shoes.  If ABC reported $5.0 million in total revenue for the year and cost of goods sold (cost of materials and direct labor) of $2.0 million, then we can use the formula above to find ABC's gross profit margin:

Gross Profit Margin = ($5,000,000 - $2,000,000) / $5,000,000 =  60%

The gross profit margin percentage tells us that Company ABC has 60% of its revenues left over after it pays the direct costs associated with making its shoes (its cost of goods sold (COGS)). This gross profit, which equates to $3.0 million in the above example ($5.0 million in revenues minus $2.0 million in COGS), represents money left over that Company ABC can use for operating expenses, interest, taxes, dividend payouts, etc.

Why it Matters:

Gross profit margin is a key measure of profitability by which investors and analysts compare similar companies and companies to their overall industry.  The metric is an indication of the financial success and viability of a particular product or service.  The higher the percentage, the more the company retains on each dollar of sales to service its other costs and obligations.

Analysts are constantly asking themselves, "Why can some industries maintain profit margins that are so much higher than others?"  The answer lies with Porter's Five Forces, a classic business framework for discovering which firms will outperform the competition. To learn more, click here to learn about Using Porter's Five Forces to Lock In Long-Term Profits.

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