Return on sales (ROS)

Alternative names: operating profit margin ev multiple operating margins

What is return on sales

Return on sales is ratio that is used to estimate company operating performance and efficiency. It indicates how much of each dollar of total revenues is left over after both costs of goods sold (like raw material, wages etc.) and operating expenses are subtracted after paying for cost of production (but before interests and taxes). It is the profit realised from standard business operations and does not include unique or one-off transactions. Return on Sales is very similar to profit margin and it uses almost the same formula, the only difference is that profit margins is always represented as percentage number while return on sales is represented as ratio.

How to calculate return on sales (formula)

The formula for calculating return on sales:

Return on sales = Operating Earnings / Revenue

The revenue and operating profit can be found on the company’s income statement. Some versions of the formula might use net sales instead of revenue, the difference being that net sales number is adjusted for returns and allowances.

What is a good return on sales (ROS) number

Since return on sales is an efficiency and profitability measure, generally the higher the ratio number the better. An increasing return on sales number will demonstrate that the company is becoming more efficient, and decreasing ratio will indicate that the company is becoming less profitable. Decreasing ROS numbers are not always bad as in some situations, a lowering return on sales can be because the business is using its resources to generate growth, which can be reflected in increased revenue numbers.

Stocks with high ROS ratios

Name Return on sales Marketcap Industry
AEL American Equity Investment Life Holding Co 79.6% $3.54B Insurance - Life
CME Cme Group Inc 79.4% $65.46B Financial Data & Stock Exchanges
BXSL Blackstone Secured Lending Fund. 79.4% $4.08B Asset Management
RDN Radian Group Inc 79.3% $3.41B Insurance - Specialty
ITOS iTeos Therapeutics Inc 78.7% $693.01M Biotechnology
ARCC Ares Capital Corp 77.6% $9.1B Asset Management
DMLP Dorchester Minerals Lp 77.3% $1.03B Oil & Gas E&P

Why is return on sales useful

Return on sales is used by business analyst and investors to analyse a single company’s efficiency over time (to look for trends), as well as to compare companies in the same industries against one another.
Businesses in different industries (with different business models) have very different ROS ratio, so when comparing metrics we should always benchmark agains the relevant industry and business type.

Related terms