EBITDA margin by industry

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) is a commonly used financial metric that helps in analyzing the operational performance of a company. This metric excludes the impact of financial and accounting decisions, making it easier to assess a company's operational efficiency and profitability. By eliminating interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization from earnings, EBITDA provides a more accurate representation of a company's ability to generate profits.

EBITDA is crucial for comparing the profitability of companies across different industries or within the same sector but with varying capital structures, tax rates, and asset bases.

Understanding EBITDA Margin

The EBITDA margin is an even more insightful metric, representing the ratio of EBITDA to total revenue. This margin reflects a company's operating profit by showing what proportion of revenue is transformed into operating earnings before accounting for financial structure, tax environment, and non-cash accounting figures like depreciation and amortization.

Comparing EBITDA margin to other profitability metrics, such as net profit margin or operating margin, reveals its unique value. Unlike net profit margin, which includes all expenses, or operating margin, which excludes interest and taxes but includes depreciation and amortization, the EBITDA margin focuses purely on operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Industry Averages EBITDA Margin

The average EBITDA margins can vary significantly across different industries. Here is a table of some common company industries in the US and their average EBITDA margins as of Feb 2024:

Industry Average EBITDA margin Number of companies
Advertising Agencies 3% 22
Aerospace & Defense 9.3% 50
Agricultural Inputs 15.7% 11
Airlines 9.4% 13
Apparel Manufacturing 9.1% 17
Apparel Retail 9.7% 29
Asset Management 41.4% 73
Auto Manufacturers 11.5% 17
Auto Parts 8% 46
Auto & Truck Dealerships 7.6% 14
Banks - Diversified 36.7% 6
Banks - Regional 38.3% 279
Beverages - Non-Alcoholic 17.9% 9
Beverages - Wineries & Distilleries 19.9% 9
Biotechnology -219.1% 518
Broadcasting 15% 16
Building Materials 29.6% 7
Building Products & Equipment 15.8% 31
Business Equipment & Supplies 7.9% 7
Capital Markets 20.3% 33
Chemicals 16.1% 17
Communication Equipment 2.4% 53
Computer Hardware 5.5% 28
Conglomerates 11.8% 12
Consulting Services 11.5% 16
Consumer Electronics -7.4% 12
Credit Services 37.5% 45
Department Stores 8% 5
Diagnostics & Research -99% 67
Discount Stores 6.6% 9
Drug Manufacturers - General 33.4% 12
Drug Manufacturers - Specialty & Generic -66.6% 50
Education & Training Services 13.5% 16
Electrical Equipment & Parts 10% 42
Electronic Components 9.5% 30
Electronic Gaming & Multimedia 16.2% 7
Electronics & Computer Distribution 5.6% 6
Engineering & Construction 8.7% 30
Entertainment 7.8% 37
Farm & Heavy Construction Machinery 10.9% 22
Farm Products 6.4% 18
Financial Data & Stock Exchanges 46.8% 10
Food Distribution 2.8% 9
Footwear & Accessories 11.4% 11
Furnishings, Fixtures & Appliances 9.8% 19
Gambling 13.7% 11
Gold 24.2% 27
Grocery Stores 6.2% 10
Healthcare Plans -5% 12
Health Information Services -12.3% 33
Home Improvement Retail 8.2% 7
Household & Personal Products 10.8% 24
Industrial Distribution 9.6% 17
Information Technology Services 11.9% 54
Insurance Brokers 16.1% 12
Insurance - Diversified 20.2% 11
Insurance - Life 13.5% 16
Insurance - Property & Casualty 11.3% 36
Insurance - Reinsurance 15.5% 7
Insurance - Specialty 29.3% 16
Integrated Freight & Logistics 10.1% 15
Internet Content & Information 4% 36
Internet Retail 6.7% 22
Leisure 9.2% 25
Lodging 16.6% 9
Luxury Goods 10.4% 5
Marine Shipping 23.9% 24
Medical Care Facilities -16.1% 39
Medical Devices -65.1% 103
Medical Distribution 3.1% 7
Medical Instruments & Supplies -61.6% 45
Metal Fabrication 12.1% 13
Mortgage Finance 26.7% 17
Oil & Gas Drilling 33.2% 6
Oil & Gas E&P 53.6% 65
Oil & Gas Equipment & Services 16.5% 44
Oil & Gas Integrated 24.7% 7
Oil & Gas Midstream 44.4% 37
Oil & Gas Refining & Marketing 9.9% 18
Other Industrial Metals & Mining 6.3% 15
Packaged Foods 9.5% 42
Packaging & Containers 14% 22
Paper & Paper Products 4.3% 5
Personal Services 18.3% 11
Pharmaceutical Retailers -18% 8
Pollution & Treatment Controls 7.1% 7
Publishing 13.7% 7
Railroads 14.7% 8
Real Estate - Development 34.7% 10
Real Estate Services 8.6% 24
Recreational Vehicles 10.3% 15
REIT - Diversified 61.7% 17
REIT - Healthcare Facilities 55.8% 16
REIT - Hotel & Motel 31.3% 15
REIT - Industrial 68.4% 16
REIT - Mortgage 38.3% 35
REIT - Office 41.5% 24
REIT - Residential 64.9% 19
REIT - Retail 69% 21
REIT - Specialty 45.2% 15
Rental & Leasing Services 32.8% 20
Residential Construction 14.6% 21
Resorts & Casinos 21.9% 18
Restaurants 12.7% 41
Scientific & Technical Instruments 11.3% 24
Security & Protection Services 15.9% 14
Semiconductor Equipment & Materials 16% 26
Semiconductors 13.1% 64
Software - Application 0.6% 192
Software - Infrastructure 5.8% 89
Solar -6.2% 13
Specialty Business Services 14.6% 26
Specialty Chemicals 14.2% 46
Specialty Industrial Machinery 16.4% 73
Specialty Retail 8.7% 42
Staffing & Employment Services 9.7% 23
Steel 9.3% 15
Telecom Services 21.5% 33
Textile Manufacturing 2.8% 4
Thermal Coal 34.8% 9
Tobacco 20.2% 6
Tools & Accessories 15.6% 11
Travel Services 16.1% 14
Trucking 17.1% 12
Utilities - Diversified 35.4% 15
Utilities - Regulated Electric 35.1% 25
Utilities - Regulated Gas 29.6% 14
Utilities - Regulated Water 45.5% 12
Waste Management 14.6% 12

As an example, the REIT - Retail industry has an average EBITDA margin of approximately 69%, whereas the REIT - Industrial industry has an average EBITDA margin of around 68.4%. In contrast, the Biotechnology industry has an average EBITDA margin of about -219.1%, and the Diagnostics & Research industry has an average EBITDA margin of around -99%.

Please note that these figures are based on industry averages and can vary significantly depending on the specific company, its size, location, competition, and other factors.

Industries with highest EBITDA margin

You can explore the top industries with the highest EBITDA margin in the chart and table below. The chart allows you to apply additional sector-based filters to the industries, enabling you to explore a breakdown of the industries with the highest EBITDA margin within each sector.

Industry Average EBITDA margin Number of companies
REIT - Retail 69% 21
REIT - Industrial 68.4% 16
REIT - Residential 64.9% 19
REIT - Diversified 61.7% 17
REIT - Healthcare Facilities 55.8% 16
Oil & Gas E&P 53.6% 65
Financial Data & Stock Exchanges 46.8% 10
Utilities - Regulated Water 45.5% 12
REIT - Specialty 45.2% 15
Oil & Gas Midstream 44.4% 37

Industries with lowest EBITDA margin

Industries with the lowest EBITDA margin are shown in the following chart and table. You can use the chart to group industries by sector and find the ones with the lowest EBITDA margin in each sector.

Industry Average EBITDA margin Number of companies
Biotechnology -219.1% 518
Diagnostics & Research -99% 67
Drug Manufacturers - Specialty & Generic -66.6% 50
Medical Devices -65.1% 103
Medical Instruments & Supplies -61.6% 45
Pharmaceutical Retailers -18% 8
Medical Care Facilities -16.1% 39
Health Information Services -12.3% 33
Consumer Electronics -7.4% 12
Solar -6.2% 13

Industry Overview of EBITDA Margin

Industries operate under vastly different conditions, leading to significant variations in EBITDA margins. Factors such as capital intensity, market maturity, competitive dynamics, and regulatory environments play critical roles in shaping these differences. Understanding why and how these margins vary by industry is essential for stakeholders, including investors, managers, and analysts, to make informed decisions.

For instance, industries that require heavy capital investment upfront, like manufacturing, often have lower EBITDA margins due to higher depreciation costs. Conversely, tech companies, especially in software, can boast higher margins due to lower variable costs and scalable business models.

High EBITDA Margin Example: A Leading Software Company

Consider a leading software company that has developed a widely used business application. Due to the scalability of its software and the absence of significant variable costs beyond initial development, the company enjoys an EBITDA margin of over 40%. Its success stems from its ability to distribute the software globally without substantial additional costs, coupled with strong demand and the ability to maintain premium pricing.

Low EBITDA Margin Example: A Traditional Manufacturing Firm

In contrast, a traditional manufacturing firm specializing in heavy machinery faces EBITDA margins of around 10%. The firm's capital-intensive nature and high operating expenses, including costs associated with maintaining and updating manufacturing plants and equipment, significantly impact its operational efficiency. Despite a strong market position, the high cost of goods sold and depreciation expenses erode its EBITDA margin.

Investment Considerations

When evaluating investment opportunities, investors consider EBITDA margin as a key metric to assess a company's operational efficiency and overall financial health and compare it against industry peers. However, while high EBITDA margins can indicate strong operational performance, investors should also be aware of the limitations of this metric. EBITDA does not account for the cost of capital investments or future expenses required for growth. Therefore, an analysis that includes EBITDA margins should be part of a broader investment evaluation framework, which considers other financial metrics, market conditions, and company-specific growth prospects.

The variability of EBITDA margins across industries, influenced by factors such as operational efficiency, market dynamics, and regulatory environments, necessitates a nuanced approach to financial analysis. By benchmarking against industry standards and considering the broader economic and competitive context, analysts, investors, and managers can gain deeper insights into a company's performance and prospects.