As a result, analysts can use the DOL ratio to predict how changes in sales will affect the company’s earnings. The conclusion for DOL is that the business must maximize the usage of its operating expenses to offset the consequences of potential future changes in sales. A company with a high DOL coupled with a large amount of debt in its capital structure and cyclical sales could result in a disastrous outcome grant proposals or give me the money! if the economy were to enter a recessionary environment. Next, if the case toggle is set to “Upside”, we can see that revenue is growing 10% each year and from Year 1 to Year 5, and the company’s operating margin expands from 40.0% to 55.8%. Just like the 1st example we had for a company with high DOL, we can see the benefits of DOL from the margin expansion of 15.8% throughout the forecast period.

  1. This concept is used to evaluate the cost structure of a business, not including the costs of financing and taxes.
  2. In other words, Microsoft possesses remarkably high operating leverage.
  3. Operating leverage is the most authentic way of analyzing the cost structure of any business.
  4. The degree of operating leverage calculator is a tool that calculates a multiple that rates how much income can change as a consequence of a change in sales.

Operating Leverage is calculated by dividing sales by earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). The manager must know a company’s capital structure, leverages, and appropriate use of stock and debt. This case study, collected from, details how a management company’s operating and financial Leverage affect it. It also explains the firm’s degree of operating Leverage (DOL) and financial Leverage (DFL). If sales and customer demand turned out lower than anticipated, a high DOL company could end up in financial ruin over the long run. As a result, companies with high DOL and in a cyclical industry are required to hold more cash on hand in anticipation of a potential shortfall in liquidity.

It will show the sensitivity of company profit and how bad it will go when sales drop. Moreover, DOL also helps management to estimate the number of sales require if they want to increase profit. Running a business incurs a lot of costs, and not all these costs are variable. In other words, there are some costs that have to be paid even if the company has no sales.

By contrast, a retailer such as Walmart demonstrates relatively low operating leverage. The company has fairly low levels of fixed costs, while its variable costs are large. For each product sale that Walmart rings in, the company has to pay for the supply of that product. As a result, Walmart’s cost of goods sold (COGS) continues to rise as sales revenues rise.

What is the approximate value of your cash savings and other investments?

It suggests using a resource or source of capital, such as debentures, for which the business must incur fixed costs or financial fees to generate a greater return. Although you need to be careful when looking at operating leverage, it can tell you a lot about a company and its future profitability, and the level of risk it offers to investors. While operating leverage doesn’t tell the whole story, it certainly can help. In the final section, we’ll go through an example projection of a company with a high fixed cost structure and calculate the DOL using the 1st formula from earlier. The direct cost of manufacturing one unit of that product was $2.50, which we’ll multiply by the number of units sold, as we did for revenue. Upon multiplying the $2.50 cost per unit by the 10mm units sold, we get $25mm as the variable cost.

Instant Insight Of A Firm’s Cost Structure

Therefore, based on financial and operational Leverage, this value may be either positive or negative. Each business manager must strike the ideal balance between using debt or equity to finance fixed costs and maximize earnings. Due to the high percentage of fixed expenditures in an organization with high operating Leverage, a significant increase in sales may result in outsized changes in profitability. During the 1990s, investors marveled at the nature of its software business. The company spent tens of millions of dollars to develop each of its digital delivery and storage software programs.

It means 1% change in sales will lead to 0.8% (1% x 0.8) change in operating income. In fact, the relationship between sales revenue and EBIT is referred to as operating leverage because when the sales level increases or decreases, EBIT also changes. It does this by measuring how sensitive a company is to operating income sales changes. Higher measures of leverage mean that a company’s operating income is more sensitive to sales changes.

This includes the key definition, how to calculate the degree of operating leverage as well as example and analysis. Before, jumping into detail, let’s understand some key relevant definitions. Investors can access a company’s risk profile by analyzing the degree of operating leverage.

While the risk-return relationship for different capital structure plans is measured using the financial analysts’ performance metric, Leverage. The changes in financial factors like sales, costs, EBIT, EBT, EPS, etc., are amplified. Since financial and operating leverages are crucial for controlling a company’s capacity to control fixed expenses, adding them together results in the organization’s total Leverage.

A company with a high level of leverage needs profits and revenue that are high enough to compensate for the additional debt it shows on its balance sheet. As said above, we can verify that a positive operating leverage ratio does not always mean that the company is growing. Actually, it can mean that the business is deteriorating or going through a bad economic cycle like the one from the 2nd quarter of 2020. This section will use the financial data from a real company and put it into our degree of operating leverage calculator.

Degree of Operating Leverage Vs. Degree of financial Leverage(DFL)

Operating leverage and financial leverage are two very critical terms in accounting. Both tools are used by businesses to increase operating profits and acquire additional assets, respectively. If the ratio is less than one, the one percent change in sales will lead to less change in operating income.

At Finance Strategists, we partner with financial experts to ensure the accuracy of our financial content. Prior to accepting a position as the Director of Operations Strategy at DJO Global, Manu was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in Houston. He served clients, including presenting directly to C-level executives, in digital, strategy, M&A, and operations projects.


Degree of combined leverage measures a company’s sensitivity of net income to sales changes. Operating income is equal to sales minus variable costs and fixed costs. The DOL measures the how sensitive operating income (or EBIT) is to a change in sales revenue. Businesses with a low DOL will have greater variable costs due to increased sales; therefore, operating income won’t grow as sharply as it would for a business with a high DOL and lower variable costs.

A manufacturing company might have high operating leverage because it must maintain the plant and equipment needed for operations. On the other hand, a consulting company has fewer fixed assets such as equipment and would, therefore, have low operating leverage. We put this example on purpose because it shows us the worst and most confusing scenario for the operating leverage ratio. And the irony of the situation is that there is a tiny margin to adjust yourself by cutting fixed costs in demand fluctuations and economic downturns. This article will walk you through the degree of operating leverage, its relation with operating leverage, illustrations, and the importance of DOL for a firm.

The ability of the company to employ operating expenses to optimize the impact of sales before taxes and interest is referred to in this case study as operating Leverage. However, if revenue declines, the leverage can end up being detrimental to the margins of the company because the company is restricted in its ability to implement potential cost-cutting measures. Or, if revenue fell by 10%, then that would result in a 20.0% decrease in operating income. As an example, if operating income grew from 10k to 15k (50% increase) and revenue grew from 20k to 25k (25% increase), the DOL would be 2.0x. Operating leverage and financial leverage are two different metrics used to determine the financial health of a company. Let’s understand some key definition of operating leverage as well as the degree of operating leverage (DOL).