Finance Formulas / July 20, 2018 / Iliana Williamson
Contribution margin is the sales price minus total variable costs, where variable costs might include materials, labor or overhead. For example, Company XYZ sells a product for $100 each. The company incurs a unit variable direct material expense of $12, unit variable labor expense of $25, $10 of variable overhead per unit and $8 of fixed overhead per unit.
Total debt to total assets is a measure of the company's assets that are financed by debt, rather than equity. This leverage ratio shows how a company has grown and acquired its assets over time. Investors use the ratio to not only evaluate whether the company has enough funds to meet its current debt obligations, but to also assess whether the company can pay a return on their investment. Creditors use the ratio to see how much debt the company already has and if the company has the ability to repay its debt, which will determine whether additional loans will be extended to the firm.
For example, an investor starts her own business with $100,000 and earns $120,000 in profits during the first year. Her accounting profit is $20,000. But that same year, she could have earned an income of $45,000 working as an employee for ABC Corporation. The investor’s economic profit for the year is actually a loss of $25,000.
Contribution margin is used by management when making pricing decisions. This is especially true in special pricing or special order situations where fixed costs are sunk costs and should not be factored into the decision whether to accept or reject. Negative or low contribution margins indicate a product line or business segment may not be profitable.
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