Profit (accounting)

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Profit, in accounting, is an income distributed to the owner in a profitable market production process (business). Profit is a measure of profitability which is the owner’s major interest in income formation process of market production. There are several profit measures in common use.

Accounting measurement, processing and communication of financial information about economic entities

Accounting or accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial information about economic entities such as businesses and corporations. The modern field was established by the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in 1494. Accounting, which has been called the "language of business", measures the results of an organization's economic activities and conveys this information to a variety of users, including investors, creditors, management, and regulators. Practitioners of accounting are known as accountants. The terms "accounting" and "financial reporting" are often used as synonyms.

Income is the consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expressed in monetary terms. For households and individuals, "income is the sum of all the wages, salaries, profits, interest payments, rents, and other forms of earnings received in a given period of time."

In a general sense, market production refers to the production of a product or service which is intended for sale at a money-price in a market. The product or service in principle has to be tradable for money.


Income formation in market production is always a balance between income generation and income distribution. The income generated is always distributed to the stakeholders of production as economic value within the review period. The profit is the share of income formation the owner is able to keep to himself/herself in the income distribution process. Profit is one of the major sources of economic well-being because it means incomes and opportunities to develop production. The words income, profit and earnings are substitutes in this context.

Well-being, wellbeing, or wellness is the condition of an individual or group. A high level of well-being means that in some sense the individual's or group's condition is positive.


There are several important profit measures in common use. Note that the words earnings, profit and income are used as substitutes in some of these terms.

Gross profit difference between revenue and cost of production, before deducting overhead, payroll, taxation, and interest

In accounting, gross profit, gross margin, sales profit, or credit sales is the difference between revenue and the cost of making a product or providing a service, before deducting overheads, payroll, taxation, and interest payments. This is different from operating profit. Gross margin is the term normally used in the U.S., while gross profit is the more common usage in the UK and Australia.

Revenue income that a business has from its normal business activities

In accounting, revenue is the income that a business have from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers. Revenue is also referred to as sales or turnover. Some companies receive revenue from interest, royalties, or other fees. Revenue may refer to business income in general, or it may refer to the amount, in a monetary unit, earned during a period of time, as in "Last year, Company X had revenue of $42 million". Profits or net income generally imply total revenue minus total expenses in a given period. In accounting, in the balance statement it is a subsection of the Equity section and revenue increases equity, it is often referred to as the "top line" due to its position on the income statement at the very top. This is to be contrasted with the "bottom line" which denotes net income.

Cost of goods sold carrying value of goods sold during a particular period

Cost of goods sold (COGS) is the carrying value of goods sold during a particular period.

To accountants, economic profit, or EP, is a single-period metric to determine the value created by a company in one period—usually a year. It is earnings after tax less the equity charge, a risk-weighted cost of capital. This is almost identical to the economists' definition of economic profit.

There are analysts who see the benefit in making adjustments to economic profit such as eliminating the effect of amortized goodwill or capitalizing expenditure on brand advertising to show its value over multiple accounting periods. The underlying concept was first introduced by Eugen Schmalenbach, but the commercial application of the concept of adjusted economic profit was by Stern Stewart & Co. which has trade-marked their adjusted economic profit as Economic Value Added (EVA).

Eugen Schmalenbach was a German academic and economist. He was born in Halver, and attended the Leipzig College of Commerce starting in 1898. That college later became part of Leipzig University, only to emerge again as the Handelshochschule Leipzig.

Optimum profit is a theoretical measure and denotes the "right" level of profit a business can achieve. In the business, this figure takes account of marketing strategy, market position, and other methods of increasing returns above the competitive rate.

Marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. Marketing is the business process of creating relationships with and satisfying customers. With its focus on the customer, marketing is one of the premier components of business management.

Positioning refers to the place that a brand occupies in the minds of the customers and how it is distinguished from the products of the competitors. In order to position products or brands, companies may emphasize the distinguishing features of their brand or they may try to create a suitable image through the marketing mix. Once a brand has achieved a strong position, it can become difficult to reposition it.

Accounting profits should include economic profits, which are also called economic rents. For instance, a monopoly can have very high economic profits, and those profits might include a rent on some natural resource that a firm owns, whereby that resource cannot be easily duplicated by other firms.

In economics, economic rent is any payment to an owner or factor of production in excess of the costs needed to bring that factor into production. In classical economics, economic rent is any payment made or benefit received for non-produced inputs such as location (land) and for assets formed by creating official privilege over natural opportunities. In the moral economy of neoclassical economics, economic rent includes income gained by labor or state beneficiaries of other "contrived" exclusivity, such as labor guilds and unofficial corruption.

Monopoly Market structure with a single firm dominating the market

A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity. This contrasts with a monopsony which relates to a single entity's control of a market to purchase a good or service, and with oligopoly which consists of a few sellers dominating a market. Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce the good or service, a lack of viable substitute goods, and the possibility of a high monopoly price well above the seller's marginal cost that leads to a high monopoly profit. The verb monopolise or monopolize refers to the process by which a company gains the ability to raise prices or exclude competitors. In economics, a monopoly is a single seller. In law, a monopoly is a business entity that has significant market power, that is, the power to charge overly high prices. Although monopolies may be big businesses, size is not a characteristic of a monopoly. A small business may still have the power to raise prices in a small industry.

Other terms

Net sales = gross sales – (customer discounts, returns, and allowances)
Gross profit = net salescost of goods sold
Operating profit = gross profit – total operating expenses
Net profit = operating profit – taxes – interest
Net profit = net salescost of goods soldoperating expense – taxes – interest

See also


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    Net profit, also referred to as the bottom line, net income, or net earnings is a measure of the profitability of a venture after accounting for all costs and taxes. It is the actual profit, and includes the operating expenses that are excluded from gross profit.

    Income statement

    An income statement or profit and loss account is one of the financial statements of a company and shows the company’s revenues and expenses during a particular period.

    Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization accounting measure: net earnings, before interest expenses, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are subtracted

    A company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization is an accounting measure calculated using a company's net earnings, before interest expenses, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are subtracted, as a proxy for a company's current operating profitability.

    Productivity describes various measures of the efficiency of production. A productivity measure is expressed as the ratio of output to inputs used in a production process, i.e. output per unit of input. Productivity is a crucial factor in production performance of firms and nations. Increasing national productivity can raise living standards because more real income improves people's ability to purchase goods and services, enjoy leisure, improve housing and education and contribute to social and environmental programs. Productivity growth can also help businesses to be more profitable. There are many different definitions of productivity and the choice among them depends on the purpose of the productivity measurement and/or data availability.

    The national income and product accounts (NIPA) are part of the national accounts of the United States. They are produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce. They are one of the main sources of data on general economic activity in the United States.

    Earnings before interest and taxes measure of a firms profit

    In accounting and finance, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) is a measure of a firm's profit that includes all incomes and expenses except interest expenses and income tax expenses.

    In business, the difference between the sale price and the production cost of a product is the unit profit. In economics, the sum of the unit profit, the unit depreciation cost, and the unit labor cost is the unit value added. Summing value added per unit over all units sold is total value added. Total value added is equivalent to revenue less intermediate consumption. Value added is a higher portion of revenue for integrated companies, e.g., manufacturing companies, and a lower portion of revenue for less integrated companies, e.g., retail companies. Total value added is very closely approximated by compensation of employees plus earnings before taxes. The first component is a return to labor and the second component is a return to capital. In national accounts used in macroeconomics, it refers to the contribution of the factors of production, i.e., capital and labor, to raising the value of a product and corresponds to the incomes received by the owners of these factors. The national value added is shared between capital and labor, and this sharing gives rise to issues of distribution.

    Net income entitys income minus cost of goods sold, expenses and taxes for an accounting period

    In business and accounting, net income is an entity's income minus cost of goods sold, expenses and taxes for an accounting period. It is computed as the residual of all revenues and gains over all expenses and losses for the period, and has also been defined as the net increase in shareholders' equity that results from a company's operations. In the context of the presentation of financial statements, the IFRS Foundation defines net income as synonymous with profit and loss. The difference between revenue and the cost of making a product or providing a service, before deducting overheads, payroll, taxation, and interest payments. This is different from operating profit.

    In business, operating margin—also known as operating income margin, operating profit margin, EBIT margin and return on sales (ROS)—is the ratio of operating income to net sales, usually presented in percent.

    In financial accounting, operating cash flow (OCF), cash flow provided by operations, cash flow from operating activities (CFO) or free cash flow from operations (FCFO), refers to the amount of cash a company generates from the revenues it brings in, excluding costs associated with long-term investment on capital items or investment in securities. The International Financial Reporting Standards defines operating cash flow as cash generated from operations less taxation and interest paid, investment income received and less dividends paid gives rise to operating cash flows. To calculate cash generated from operations, one must calculate cash generated from customers and cash paid to suppliers. The difference between the two reflects cash generated from operations.

    Value product

    The value product (VP) is an economic concept formulated by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy during the 1860s, and used in Marxian social accounting theory for capitalist economies. Its annual monetary value is approximately equal to the netted sum of six flows of income generated by production:

    Operating surplus is an accounting concept used in national accounts statistics and in corporate and government accounts. It is the balancing item of the Generation of Income Account in the UNSNA. It may be used in macro-economics as a proxy for total pre-tax profit income, although entrepreneurial income may provide a better measure of business profits. According to the 2008 SNA, it is the measure of the surplus accruing from production before deducting property income, e.g., land rent and interest.

    In economics, gross value added (GVA) is the measure of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy. In national accounts GVA is output minus intermediate consumption; it is a balancing item of the national accounts' production account.

    In bookkeeping, accounting, and finance, Net sales are operating revenues earned by a company for selling its products or rendering its services. Also referred to as revenue, they are reported directly on the income statement as Sales or Net sales.

    Production is a process of combining various material inputs and immaterial inputs in order to make something for consumption. It is the act of creating an output, a good or service which has value and contributes to the utility of individuals.

    In U.S. business and financial accounting, the income is generally defined by GAAP and the Financial Accounting Standards Board as: Revenues - Expenses; however, many people use it as shorthand for net income, which is the amount of money that a company earns after covering all of its costs as well as taxes.

    Non-operating income

    Non-operating income, in accounting and finance, is gains or losses from sources not related to the typical activities of the business or organization. Non-operating income can include gains or losses from investments, property or asset sales, currency exchange, and other atypical gains or losses. Non-operating income is generally not recurring and is therefore usually excluded or considered separately when evaluating performance over a period of time.

    Financial ratio characteristic number

    A financial ratio or accounting ratio is a relative magnitude of two selected numerical values taken from an enterprise's financial statements. Often used in accounting, there are many standard ratios used to try to evaluate the overall financial condition of a corporation or other organization. Financial ratios may be used by managers within a firm, by current and potential shareholders (owners) of a firm, and by a firm's creditors. Financial analysts use financial ratios to compare the strengths and weaknesses in various companies. If shares in a company are traded in a financial market, the market price of the shares is used in certain financial ratios.