# Operating Ratio: Definition and Formula for Calculation

Economist Vilfredo Pareto’s oft-cited principle states that 80% of consequences come from 20% of actions taken. Applied to your company’s operational efficiency, this can be taken to mean that 80% of your sales are coming from just 20% of your clients, or that a mere 20% of the work done by your team secures 80% of your total revenue. This means operating expenses are equal to 77% of the company’s net sales. To put it in slightly more chilling terms, 77 cents of every sales dollar is devoured by the cost of generating it.

The cash conversion cycle shows how quickly a firm converts its investment in inventory into cash. While that measure is typically used for liquidity purposes, it is useful to see how various ratios can be used in different ways. A low https://turbo-tax.org/unearned-revenue-benefits-examples-accounting-and/ number is better than a high one – the more efficient a company is (the greater its margin) the lower the number is. In this image, John Doe Limited’s ratio has improved since the beginning of 2012, before which it was deteriorating.

## Examples of Operating Ratio Formula (With Excel Template)

Also, if the analysis is used to pare back operating expenses too much, customer service levels may suffer. The operating assets ratio compares the assets used to generate revenues to total non-cash assets. The intent is to eliminate those assets not contributing to operational performance, which reduces the total asset base of a business. By doing so, management can reduce the amount of cash invested in a business, so that it operates in a more efficient manner. The operating ratio is only useful for seeing if the core business is able to generate a profit. Since several potentially significant expenses are not included, it is not a good indicator of the overall performance of a business, and so can be misleading when used without any other performance metrics.

The ratio is included here, because the cost of compensation can comprise a large part of total operating expenses. The operating ratio is calculated by dividing a company’s total operating costs by its net sales. An operating ratio that is going up is viewed as a negative sign, as this indicates that operating expenses are increasing relative to sales or revenue. Conversely, if the operating ratio is falling, expenses are decreasing, or revenue is increasing, or some combination of both. A company may need to implement cost controls for margin improvement if its operating ratio increases over time. Because it concentrates on core business activities, one of the most popular ways to analyze performance is by evaluating the operating ratio.

## What Is the Operating Ratio?

A railway’s operating ratio represents the ratio of its operating costs to its revenue. Accordingly, a lower operating ratio means a railway is incurring less operating cost per dollar of revenue. CP’s operating ratio for the year ended December 31, 2012 was 83.3% (and its “adjusted operating ratio” for the same period was 77.0%). By the end of 2016, CP had reduced its operating ratio to 58.6%.5 This paper analyzes some of the more significant factors driving that decrease.

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In the course of doing business, your company generates a range of both capital expenses (CAPEX) and operating expenses (OPEX). Both CAPEX and OPEX have a direct impact on your company’s financial health. But for the purpose of directly calculating a company’s overall efficiency at minimizing its costs while still bringing in revenue or sales (i.e., calculating the operational efficiency ratio), operating expenses are used. Operating ratio has several possible meanings – it usually refers to a company’s operating expenses divided by its operating revenues (net sales). It can also be any type of business or financial ratio that measures a business’ efficiency, including its sales to cost of goods sold ratio, net profit to net worth ratio, and net profit to gross income ratio. Whereas the operating efficiency ratio compares expenses with revenue, the operating expense ratio divides a real estate property’s total operating expenses (less depreciation) by its gross operating income.

## How the Operating Ratio Works

Since it places emphasis on a company’s core business activities, the operating ratio is an excellent tool to describe the company’s performance and level of efficiency. Together with return on company sales and return on equity, the operating ratio helps analysts measure working efficiency. The ratio helps to analyze trends and track performance over a certain period. If we divide our company’s total costs by its net sales, the operating ratio comes out as 80% – which is the inverse of the 20% operating margin. Accordingly, a falling operating ratio indicates operating expenses are decreasing, revenue and sales are rising, or a mix of the two. It’s important to note that while COGS can be recorded as part of operating costs, many companies treat them as separate.

• The ability to double-stack intermodal containers, first introduced in the U.S. in the early 1980s, paved the way for a 35% to 45% gain in productivity, according to Blaze.
• For example, a 20% operating margin is the equivalent of an 80% operating ratio.
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• The rail industry’s operating ratios have come down steadily over the years and are currently the best they have ever been.

One example of this is how the Class I railroad industry views and handles intermodal traffic. The ability to double-stack intermodal containers, first introduced in the U.S. in the early 1980s, paved the way for a 35% to 45% gain in productivity, according to Blaze. That helped lower the rail industry’s OR as well as improved the industry’s operating margin.

### What is a good operating ratio percentage?

The ideal OER is between 60% and 80% (although the lower it is, the better).