What is the Operating Ratio Formula?
The operating ratio formula is the ratio of the company’s operating expenses to net sales, where operating expenses include administrative expenses, selling and distribution expenses, cost of goods sold, salary, rent, other labor costs, depreciation, etc. It is also called the operating cost ratio or operating expense ratio. The ratio is generally expressed in percentage terms. The lesser the operating ratio, the better it is for the company. It is because a lower ratio indicates it is carrying out its operations efficiently.
The cost of goods sold is added to operating expenses to find out the operating ratio.
Explanation
In order to calculate the operating ratio in case the operating expenses include the cost of goods sold, the following steps are to be undertaken.
Step 1: Aggregate all the operating expenses.
Step 2: Find out the net sales. In order to find net sales, certain items such as goods returned are deducted from the gross sales.
Step 3: Use the following to find the operating ratio:
Operating Ratio Formula = Operating Expenses / Net Sales * 100
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In certain cases, the cost of goods sold is given separately from operating expenses. In such cases, the cost of goods sold is added to operating expenses.
Calculation of Operating Ratio
The following examples will give us more clarity on the subject matter.
Example #1
The net sales for Blue Trust Inc. are $5,000. The operating expenses are $3,000. The cost of goods sold, which are not included in the operating expenses, is $1,000. Calculate the operating ratio for the company.
Solution
Use the belowgiven data for calculation of the operating ratio
 Operating Expenses: 3000
 Cost of Good Sold: 1000
 Net Sales: 5000
Therefore, the calculation of operating ratio is as follows,
=(3000+1000)/5000
 The operating ratio for Blue Trust Inc. is 80%.
Example #2
The Cost Accountant of Radley Inc. was going through its records. He found out that the following expenses were incurred in January:
 Sales & Marketing Expenses: $400
 Salary: $1,000
 Repair & Maintenance Costs: $500
 Direct Material: $600
 Direct Labor: $1,200
 Office Supply Costs: $300
 Rent of Factory: $500
The sales were $11,000, and the sales returns were $1,000. Calculate the operating ratio.
Solution
First, we need to calculate Net sales
Net sales
 = $11,000 – $1,000
 Net Sales = $10,000
Operating Expenses
=$400+$1000+$500+$600+$1200+$300+$500
 Operating Expenses = 4500
Therefore, the calculation of operating ratio is as follows,
=4500/10000*100%
Note
Interest expenses are not added as they are not operating expenses.
Example #3
An Economist is comparing the operating ratios of different firms in the same industry. He gets the following data: Calculate the operating expenses for each of these firms. Which firm has the highest degree of operating efficiency?
Firm  Net Sales  Operating Ratio 
A  $50,000  60% 
B  $10,000  70% 
C  $40,000  50% 
D  $10,000  80% 
E  $100,000  70% 
F  $600  70% 
G  $20,000  40% 
Solution
Therefore, Operating Expenses can be calculated using the below formula as,
Operating Expenses = Operating Ratio * Net Sales
=60%*$50000
 Operating Expenses = 30000
Similarly, we can calculate operating expenses for firms B, C, D, E, F, and G.
The firm with the lowest operating ratio has the highest degree of operating efficiency. Firm G has the lowest operating ratio from these firms. Hence, firm G has the highest degree of operating efficiency.
Calculator
You can use this calculator
Operating Expenses  
Net Sales  
Operating Ratio Formula  
Operating Ratio Formula= 



Relevance and Uses
 If the operating ratio shows an increasing trend over a period, it is considered to be a negative sign for the company. It may indicate that the cost control system is not working well or is absent. In such a scenario, the company needs to improve its system of cost control. It will ensure that the margins of the company will increase over time.
 A decline in the operating ratio over a period is viewed as a positive sign. It indicates that operating expenses account for a lesser percentage of net sales, which implies that the company is working more efficiently.
 Interfirm comparison of an operating ratio is to be made as it will help in comparing the efficiency of two companies in the same industry. Norms differ from industry to industry. Thus, a high ratio for a particular industry may not be the case for another industry.
 One of the limitations of this ratio is that it does not consider debt and interest payments. In other words, this ratio is not affected by the capital structure of the company. Thus, two companies, say the first one is debtfree, and the other one is highly leveraged, will have the same operating ratio if their operating expenses are the same. Thus, while carrying out analysis, the debtequity ratio has to be used in conjunction with the operating ratio.
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