Operating income, sometimes also called Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT), is the profit a company earned through operations. All expenses, including cash expenses such as cost of goods sold (COGS), research & development, wages, and non-cash expenses, such as depreciation, depletion and amortization, have been deducted from the sales.
Operating Margin = Operating Income (EBIT) / Total Revenue.
Compared with a companys EBITDA margin, Operating Margin can be manipulated by adjusting the rate of depreciation, depletion and amortization (DDA).
If a company is facing competition, its Operating Margin may decline. Often the Operating Margin declines well before the companys revenue or even profit decline. Therefore, Operating Margin is a very important indicator of whether the company is facing problems.
For instance, by 2012, Nokia (NOK)s problems were well known and its stock had lost more than 90% of its market value since 2007. But Nokias Operating Margin had already been in decline since 2002, although its earnings per share were still rising. Investors who paid attention to Operating Margin would have avoided this huge loss. The same can be said for Research-in-Motion (RIMM).
Therefore, Operating Margin is a very important screening filter for GuruFocus. GuruFocuss Buffett-Munger screener requires that the profit margin is either consistent or expanding. The Model Portfolio of the Buffett-Munger screener has outperformed the market every year since inception in 2009.
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