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
NMIH NMI Holdings Inc 78.4% $2.13B Insurance - Property & Casualty
KFS Kingsway Financial Services Inc 77.5% $200.76M Auto & Truck Dealerships
BSM Black Stone Minerals LP 77.2% $3.88B Oil & Gas E&P
RDN Radian Group Inc 77% $3.9B Insurance - Specialty
CME Cme Group Inc 76.8% $72.24B Financial Data & Stock Exchanges
TSLX Sixth Street Specialty Lending Inc 76.5% $1.73B Asset Management
AAIC Arlington Asset Investment Corp 76.3% $120.92M REIT - Mortgage

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