The proverbial bottom line for success in business is the capacity to deliver profits, at least in the long term. Even though we live in an age where user platforms and hyper revenue growth can drive company valuations, that adage remains true. In fact, questions about profitability seem to have taken center place again, not only because a market pull back is a reminder that growth, by itself, cannot deliver value, but also because there are still unresolved debates about how much damage the COVID crisis did to earnings power at companies, and whether this damage has been healed, as economies have opened up. In this post, I will look at corporate profitability, in all its different dimensions, and how companies across the globe, and across industries, measured up in the most recent years.
The question of whether a company is making or losing money should be a simple one to answer, especially in an age where accounting statements are governed by a myriad of rules, and a legion of number-crunchers follow these rules to report profits generated by a firm. In practice, though, measuring profitability is anything but straightforward, as accountants have devised multiple measures of profitability, reserving discretion on how to compute each one, and many different ways of scaling these profits, for comparisons.
Accounting Profit Measures
To understand the different measures of accounting profit, let us look at how each measure of profit is computed in an income statement. In the table (Read more...)