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Economic Profit

The difference between total revenue and the opportunity cost associated with the revenue generated

What is Economic Profit?

Economic profit (or loss) refers to the difference between the total revenue and the opportunity cost associated with the revenue generated. Opportunity cost is the cost of an opportunity foregone, i.e., given up in order to pursue another one.


Economic Profit


For example, assume a company needs to make significant changes in their business model in order to survive in the market and beat the competition. After a review of their business model, the manager suggests that the company can survive if it adopts either of two feasible options: cost-cutting or the introduction of new product lines.

Management decides to go forward with cost-cutting. In such a case, the potential earnings that could be generated by introducing a new product are given up in exchange for the increased profits realized by cutting costs. Choosing not to pursue developing new product lines represents a lost opportunity. Hopefully, the company has done careful cost-benefit analysis and discovered that the largest potential profit increase will be derived from reducing  operating costs.


Advantages of Economic Profit


1. Helps weigh all opportunities

Economic profit is an excellent way to weigh various opportunities that a business has, and select the best and the most profitable option. It helps assess each and every opportunity in order to make an informed decision.


2. Measures success

Economic profit, along with accounting profit, is an excellent way to measure a company’s success. If all potential opportunities were carefully assessed and an informed decision was made, economic profit is an excellent way of showing how the company is doing better than it would’ve had it gone forward with any other option.


3. Measures efficiency

While accounting profit measures the profitability of a business, economic profit is an excellent way to measure the business’ efficiency, specifically its efficiency in resource allocation.


Disadvantages of Economic Profit


1. Does not account for several important financial aspects

While economic profit is an excellent way to measure a company’s success, it is not an accurate and complete measure of a company’s profitability. This is because it does not necessarily include all important financial aspects and transactions that may occur during a given time frame.


2. Difficult to estimate

The opportunity cost of any business activity not pursued is difficult to estimate accurately. Therefore, it is difficult to accurately estimate economic profit.


Additional Resources

CFI is the official provider of the Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program, designed to transform anyone into a world-class financial analyst.

To keep learning and developing your knowledge of financial analysis, we highly recommend the additional CFI resources below:

  • Economic Value Added
  • Financial Accounting Theory
  • Profitability Ratios
  • Return on Assets (ROA)

Financial Analyst Certification

Become a certified Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)® by completing CFI’s online financial modeling classes!