Operating Ratio: Definition, Formula and Calculation

The operating ratio is a key financial ratio that allows businesses to measure their efficiency and effectiveness in their operations. It is a comparison of operating expenses to net sales, and is a valuable tool for managers to understand the financial health of their business. This ratio is a key component of financial analysis and helps to identify opportunities for improvement and growth. Understanding the operating ratio and its implications for business operations is a critical component of financial management. This blog post will delve into the importance of the operating ratio and discuss how it can be used to inform business decisions. It will provide an overview of what it is, why it matters, and how to calculate it. Additionally, it will discuss the implications of the ratio and provide some best practices for managing it. By the end of the post, readers should have a solid basic understanding of the operating ratio, its importance, and how to use it for their own business operations.

Operating Ratio – Learn Accounting Online

Operating ratio formula

Here is the formula to calculate an operating ratio:

Operating ratio is the product of operating costs and the cost of goods sold.

Several of these, particularly operating expenses and the cost of goods, may be included in the company’s income reports. Heres what each component of the formula means:

What is the operating ratio?

The operating ratio is a figure that illustrates how a company’s net sales compare to its operating costs. For businesses of any size, this figure can be used to gauge how effectively the organization is performing. It’s one of many methods that management, owners, or investors may use to determine an organization’s profitability. An easy way to assess how the company’s productivity stacks up against the necessary costs is to use the operating ratio. It is not a comprehensive method of assessing finances because debt is not taken into account, but it can be helpful when comparing businesses in the same industries or tracking development over time.

How to calculate operating ratio

Once you have all the necessary data, you can calculate operating ration as follows:

1. Add operating expenses and cost of sales

If your business includes cost of sales in operating expenses, you can skip this addition step and use the operating expenses total instead. In order to calculate the cost of doing business for the company, add the two if your organization tracks them separately.

For instance, Holt Handmades is estimating operating costs for their third year of operation. Their cost of goods sold was $24,000, and their operating expenses came to $26,000. Their accountant adds those up to arrive at a $50,000 annual cost.

2. Divide costs by net sales

Divide net sales by the total cost that you calculated in the previous step. This gives you the operating ratio, which, unless a business is in dire straits, will always be higher than zero and typically lower than two.

For instance, Holt Handmades made $80,000 in revenue overall this year. Their accountant calculates their operating ratio as follows: $50,000 divided by $80,000 in net sales results in an operating ratio of 0. 625 for this year of business.

3. Multiply by 100 (optional)

Take your operating ratio and multiply it by 100 to determine your operating ratio as a percentage.

For instance, Holt Handmades wants to contrast their operating ratio with those of their rivals, whose operating ratios are displayed as percentages in the public domain. They therefore multiply their operating ratio by 100 to convert it to a percentage:

0.625 x 100 = 62.5%

Interpreting the operating ratio

The operating ratio enables you to comprehend the effectiveness of key business processes and how a company’s effectiveness evolves over time. Here are some ways to interpret an operating ratio:

Operating ratio values

Since it only compares two values, an operating ratio value can only give a company’s finances a limited amount of insight on its own. Heres what a single operating ratio can tell you:

Operating ratios over time

Operating ratio analysis over time can demonstrate how a company’s productivity or sales have changed. This may be a reliable indicator of how well manufacturing or sales changes are working. Here are some ways to interpret operating ratio trends:

Examples of operating ratio use

Operating ratios can be used in a variety of ways by financial experts and business leaders to analyze businesses. Here are some instances of how to apply the operating ratio:

Industry comparison

Since businesses in the same industry are likely to have similar operating costs per sale, using operating ratios to compare them can be especially useful.

Example: Unlike Interstate Freight, which only has to pay to maintain its trucks and not the roads they travel on, American Tracks railroad company maintains its own track infrastructure in addition to its trains and cargo containers. Because of the difference in operating expenses, the American Tracks financial advisors compare these two operating ratios to get a general idea of how effectively the two industries are responding to a financial crisis.

Investment research

Because they can show performance over time, operating ratios can be helpful when deciding whether to invest in a publicly traded company.

Example: A stockholder considering UnleavenedX technology decides to compute the company’s operating ratio for the previous two years using publicly available financial documents. They observe that the operating ratio is largely stable but gradually declining, indicating that the business is gradually increasing its operating effectiveness. To decide whether to invest, the investor can combine this information with other financial analyses.

Analysis of different financial strategies

Financial professionals can better understand the underlying financial strategies by investigating the variations in operating ratios between companies.

Example: Oven Haven and MicrowaveFluent, two appliance manufacturers, produce comparable goods aimed at the same market segment and hold comparable market shares. When an investment analyst checks the public records of the two companies after noticing a discrepancy between their stock prices, she discovers that MicrowaveFluent has an operating ratio of 0. Oven Haven’s operating ratio is 0, while it has been 85 over the previous two years. 7.

The investment analyst is intrigued by this distinction between these two otherwise comparable businesses, so she reads the financial records more thoroughly and discovers that Oven Haven has been operating as leanly as possible in order to generate more revenue for debt repayment. She can use this information to help her decide where to invest.


How do you calculate operating ratios?

How to calculate operating ratio
  1. Add operating expenses and cost of sales. If your business includes cost of sales in operating expenses, you can skip this addition step and use the operating expenses total instead.
  2. Divide costs by net sales. …
  3. Multiply by 100 (optional)

What is a good operating ratio?

The operating expense ratio is your total operating expense (excluding interest) minus depreciation divided by gross income, expressed as a percentage. The ideal range for the normal operating expense ratio is between 60% and 80%; the lower it is, the better.

What is meant by operating ratio?

By comparing a company’s total operating expenses to its net sales, the operating ratio is a metric used by businesses to assess how effectively management manages to keep operating costs low while also generating revenues or sales.

What ratio is operating ratio?

The ratio known as the “operating ratio” is used to illustrate management effectiveness by establishing a connection between total operating expenses and net sales.

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