What Are Income Statement Formulas?

How to calculate income statement formulas

Cropped shot of a handsome young businessman sitting in his office and looking contemplative while reading paperwork
•••

PeopleImages / Getty Images

Income statement formulas are ratios you can calculate using the information found on a company's income statement.

Using income statement formulas can help you analyze a company's performance and make decisions about investing. When you are making these calculations, it can help to have an easy-to-reference summary sheet on hand. 

Whenever you are working your way through a company's financial statements and you get to the income statement, you can crunch the numbers yourself without having to refresh your memory on the most important calculations.

What Are Income Statement Formulas?

Income statement formulas are calculations that you can make using the information from a company's income statements. These formulas can help you be a more effective investor by allowing you to measure a company's:

  • Profitability
  • Strength
  • Growth
  • Efficiency
  • Quality

It can help to break down financial ratios into five different categories. Grouping together the ratios helps you keep the bigger picture in mind, and how the various components fit into that bigger picture.

Common Income Statement Formulas

A company's income statement contains a significant amount of information, all of which can tell you important information about your investment. Using the correct income statement formula will allow you to analyze this information.

As an investor, it helps to familiarize yourself with the common income statement formulas and what they can tell you.

Gross Profit Margin

Gross profit margin measures the efficiency of a company's manufacturing or other production processes. It tells you how much profit is left after subtracting the cost of the goods or services sold.

A higher gross profit margin is better.

To calculate gross profit margin, divide gross profit (revenue minus sales) by total revenue.

Gross profit margin equation

Research and Development to Sales

Research and development, or R&D, costs are expenses listed on an income statement. This tells you how much the company spends per year on developing new products or services.

The R&D to sales formula tells you the relationship between R&D and the income that a company is bringing in. It is calculated by dividing R&D expenses by revenue.

Research and development to sales equation

Operating Margin

Operating margin, also known as operating profit margin, is a measure of efficiency.

A company's operating profit is how much profit remains after deducting all expenses. However, operating profit can vary widely due to differences in business models, expenses, and other factors.

The operating margin allows you to compare a company's financial activity to its competitors by creating a percentage relative to revenue. It is calculated by dividing operating income by revenue.

Operating income equation

Interest Coverage Ratio

The interest coverage ratio is important when you are dealing with banking, insurance, real estate, or other investment companies.

This ratio compares the earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) to interest expense, which are listed as a separate item on the income sheet. This shows you how much a company is relying on borrowing to fuel its growth or fund operations.

Calculate the interest coverage ratio by dividing earnings before interest and taxes by interest expenses.

Interest coverage ration equation

Net Profit Margin

Net profit margin is the ratio of net income (or after-tax profits) to revenue. This tells you what percentage of every dollar collected in revenue actually translates into profit for a company.

It is calculated by dividing net income by revenue.

Net profit margin equation

Return on Equity

Return on equity (or ROE) is one of the most important measures of profitability that investors can use. This ratio shows how much after-tax income a company earned compared to shareholder equity.

This shows how efficiently the company has been handling its money. It is calculated by dividing net profit (after-tax income) by shareholder equity.

Return on equity equation

Asset Turnover Ratio

Asset turnover, or the asset turnover ratio, calculates the amount of revenue for every dollar of assets owned by the company. This measures how efficient the company is at using its assets.

Higher values are better, though what counts as a higher value is often dependent on industry. It is calculated by dividing revenue over a period of time by the average value of assets for that same period.

Asset turnover ratio equation

Return on Assets

Calculating the return on assets tells you how well a company uses its assets to generate income. It is a measure of management and productivity.

A higher return on assets is better, and it is generally helpful to compare this value across several time periods. It is calculated by dividing net income over a given time period by total average assets in that same time period.

Return on assets equation

Return on assets can also be calculated by multiplying net profit margin and asset turnover.

Return on assets equation

Balance Sheet and Income Statement Formulas

An income statement isn't the only tool investors can use to learn about a company. When you analyze both an income statement and a balance sheet side-by-side, you can calculate several additional financial ratios.

Sales to Working Capital Ratio

Calculating the working capital per dollar of sales shows you how well a company uses its working capital to generate sales. This is a measure of efficiency and can be used to compare a business to competitors in the same industry.

Working capital is the amount of money a company has available for daily operations. It is calculated by subtracting current liabilities from current assests, both of which are found on the balance sheet.

The ratio is calculated by dividing total sales by working capital.

Sales to working capital ratio equation

Receivables Turnover

A company's receivables turnover shows how fast a company collects accounts receivable. The faster this happens, the more working capital a company has to grow and pay investors.

Receivable turnover is calculated by dividing net credit sales in a select time period by the average net receivables for that same time.

Receivable turnover equation

Inventory Turnover Ratio

Calculating a company's inventory turnover tells you how long it takes to sell through its entire inventory. This will give you a sense of a business's efficiency, growth potential, and ability to generate revenue.

Inventory turnover is calculated by dividing the cost of goods sold by the average inventory for a given time period.

Inventory turnover ratio equation

What Income Statement Formulas Can Tell You

Income statement formulas can tell you important information about how a business functions, both compared to competitors in its industry and to its own past performance.

Using these formulas can help you decide whether a company is a smart investment or a risky one, as well as whether the degree of risk is worthwhile. This can be useful information to have before making an investment or buying stock.

These formulas can also help you evaluate the performance of a company that you have already invested in, allowing you to decide whether to keep or sell a stock.

Limitations of Income Statement Formulas

While each income statement formula can tell you a great deal about a company, financial ratios are only the start. The ultimate goal is to be able to calculate something known as owner earnings.

Popularized by Warren Buffett in the '80s, a company's owner earnings are the net cash flow over the entire life of the business, minus dividends and other reinvestments into the business. 

This metric attempts to answer the question, "If I owned this asset, how much cash could I extract from it after taking care of necessary expenses, taxes, and maintenance capital expenditures required to keep unit volume steady without harming the competitive position of the enterprise?"

When you take an owner earnings approach to income statement analysis, you need all three financial statements together—balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statements—as well as the ability to discount cash flows to come up with a net present value. 

The objective is then to pay a fair or reasonable price for the business with a heavy emphasis on companies that appear to be ​both quantitatively and qualitatively higher in quality. 

This method can be applied to real estate investments as well as equities.

Income statement formulas are also limited in that they only look at the finances of a single company, or at best can be used to compare multiple companies to each other. They don't tell you anything about outside factors that can influence your investing decisions, such as:

  • International trade developments
  • Changing government regulations
  • Bad press, scandals, or changes in leadership
  • Overall industry health

These factors should also be taken into consideration when deciding whether a company is a smart or risky investment for your portfolio.