• Trading View

How Profit Margin Impacts Stock Moves

Larry Davidson - September 16, 2018

Analysts and investors can get a better grip on the financial health of a company by reading its quarterly and annual earnings statements. The profit margin (aka net income margin) is one of the most widely used financial profitability ratios. It tells us how much revenue, in percentage terms the company keeps in earnings. 

The formula for calculating the net profit margin:

Net Profit Margin = (Net Profit ÷ Total Revenue) * 100

Other Types of Profit Margin

Gross profit margin and operating profit margin are two other primary profitability ratios. They’re easily calculated using the income statement subtotals and net profits.


Revenue      $1,225       

Gross Income 750 —->        Gross Profit Margin               750 ÷ 1,225 = 61.2%

Operating Income 456  – --> Operating Profit Margin  456 ÷ 1,225 = 37.2%

Net Income 305—— Net Profit Margin                           305 ÷ 1,225 = 24.9%

How Profit Margin Applies To The Markets

profit margin example
source: jalopnik.com
aapl profit margin
source: Reuters

Basic fundamental analysis uses profit margins to compare a company to itself, competitors, and benchmark.

Here is how Apple (NASD: AAPL) compares to its industry and sector.

Profit margins can vary among sectors. Apple’s gross profit margin above shows 38.27%. That said, car maker BMW sees its profit margins in the low teens (2nd qtr 2018 was 11.4%).  The average net profit margin for the S&P 500 stocks for Q1 2018 stood at 11.1%.

If you talk to an investor like Warren Buffett, he’ll tell you that he prefers to buy companies that have high net income margins. Financial analysts pull historical financial statements into financial models calculate margins, growth rates, and ratios. They do it because it helps them come up with forecasts and projections.

Sure, it’s important for long-term investors. After an earnings release or company update, traders are closely following what the company says about its net income margin. Now, if there are any surprises, you could see a whole lot of volatility in the stock.

profit margin real life example
source: Financial Times

When a company’s earnings change, the income statement will show where the changes occur.

For example, a big increase in the cost of goods sold will decrease gross profits and all other profits while a tax increase will only reduce net profits at the very bottom. 

Think about it, if a company’s cost of goods sold and expenses are too high then it will struggle to turn a profit.   

Bottom Line

Net income margin is one of the most important financial ratios you’ll see on a financial statement. If you are an earnings trader, it is one you’ll want watch closely.

As with most financial numbers, they become useful when compared to something else. Think in relative terms.

Larry D. is one of the most experienced writers at the Dork. His expert insights into the individual stocks have made small fortunes for some of his readers and profitable trades for many more. Best known for his work with under-the-radar growth stocks, Larry has been picking winners for over 30 years.

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