Return on Sale

Return on sales measures the operating profit margin of the company and how the management is working to use the resources. It evaluates whether the management is efficiently using the resources or not to generate the revenue and thus provides an insight into the company’s operations to the creditors and other prospective investors.

Every business has certain goals and one of the primary ones is profit making. Businesses require money to be run and thus it is necessary for a business to make a profit to further invest in the business to make it a continuous process. To understand whether the revenue is getting converted into actual profit or not and then how much percentage of the revenue is your actual profit after deducting all the expenses. Return on sales is the measure you need for calculating your profit percentage. Return on sales analysis will give you a clear idea of how much profit you are making out of your revenue generation and whether it is meeting your standardized profit margin or not.

What is Return on Sales?

In simple terms, return on sales or ROS is a financial ratio which is used for the measurement of the profit percentage against the revenue a business generates. A business generates revenue, and there are expenses which are incurred to generate that revenue, ROS measures how much percentage of the revenue is actually converted in the earning of the company. It shows the efficiency of the company in making a profit on the revenue generated.

It is also known as the operating profit margin as it gives an insight of the operation efficiency of the company. This means that whether the company is operating at its optimal potential or not. The profit which is measured for the ROS is the operating profit generated from the top-line revenue of the company. Operating profit/ROS thus forms a major part of the company’s evaluation process not only for the internal purpose but majorly for the creditors and the investors who look for better profit margins.

Return on Sales

Formula and Calculation

Return on Sales calculation is important for every business house and the calculation is pretty simple. It is the operating profit of the company in a particular financial period which is divided by the net sales of the same time period. The formula is as follows –

Return on sales (ROS) = Net income before interest and taxes / Net sales

You need to make sure that the equation doesn’t include any of the non-operating activities and gain or losses from them. For example, there are no taxes, financing costs, dividends which are included in the calculation. These are not the operating expenses that are these are not generated through the main business of the firm. For instance, if you have a business of constructing buildings but side by side you also invest money in real estate shares, your operating profit will include the profit generated from constructing buildings and not from investments in the shares. Then you cannot show the interest on the loan you have taken for personal purpose and even for the business and the income taxes, corporate taxes you pay etc. This ratio is a core profitability and efficiency ratio and thus only the top-line revenues and the operating profit is used in the ROS calculation.


For understanding the return on sales a little better, here are some of the numerical

‘A’ runs a restaurant where he generates yearly revenue of USD 1000000. The operating profit is USD 200000. Therefore the return on sales or ROS = 200000/1000000 = 20%

In this example, we can see that 20% of the revenue generated by Mr. A is actually converted to the operating profit margin of the company. In other words, if we see it from the cost forefront, then 80% of the revenue is used by Mr. A to generate 20% profit and to run the business. If the standardized profit of Mr. A is more than 20%, then he needs to decrease his expenses and increase the revenue to increase the operating incomes on a net basis.

If Mr. X makes an operating profit of INR 2000000 and his yearly revenue is INR 1 crore then his business has a ROS of 20%. While Mr. Y makes an operating profit of INR 200000 and his revenue for the time period is INR 500000, then his operating profit or ROS is 40%. So, the amount of profit doesn’t determine the efficiency of the business. This is why Mr. Y is making more profit out of his revenue while Mr. X having 20 times more revenue generates less profit percentage.

Return on Sales with Revenue and Expenses of Businesses

To understand how ROS actually calculated in a business firm, you need to play with the sales and revenue and income expenses figures. Here is a small example –

Sales – INR 1000000

Expenses – INR 850000

Profit = INR 150000

Therefore; ROS = 150000/1000000 = 15%


It is important to make ROS analysis to understand what insight it puts on the financials of a company. Since it is a ratio that measures the efficiency as well as the profitability of a business, it shows how efficiently a company’s management is using the resources to generate revenue and earn a profit. It shows how well the products and the services are optimized and how the costs are reduced.

It is a measure of both the efficiency and profitability metrics as profitability doesn’t always signify efficiency in a business. As we see in the second example, that with less amount of profit generated by Mr. Y, the percentage of the profit is double what Mr. X generates but the revenue of the latter is 20 times the former. Here, the efficiency card plays it role, Mr. Y generates 40% income with less revenue because he can keep the costs within 60% of the revenue generation while the operating costs of Mr. X shoot up to 80%.

Thus, profitability cannot be only judged by the numbers of profit but the efficiency has to be measured along with it to actually evaluate the company’s performance.

Uses of Return on Sales

The creditors and the investors use this ratio often to understand how well the company is running and using its resources optimally or not. It is also a metric which can be used for comparing the peers in the industry as well as comparing owns profit with the standardized profit of the firm or the industry. Usually, it has been observed that the companies with 20% and above operating profit margin are more stable and efficient in managing its resources while anything more than 15% is regarded as a vulnerable one and also implicate the improper uses of the resources.


Return on sales thus evaluates profit of a company as well as the efficiency of the company to generate that profit. The ROS efficiency measurement is important for the internal as well as the external purpose. It is a simple yet very useful metric whose calculation is easy as well and can be used for any size of the businesses.1–5

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Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".

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