What Is the Difference Between Operating Income vs. Net Income?

by Neil Kokemuller; Updated September 26, 2017
Woman with financial advisor

Operating income is the profit a company makes from its primary business activities. Net income is the bottom-line income, or final profit, achieved after all revenue and expense-related activities are evaluated during a given period.

Operating Income Basics

To calculate operating income, you subtract operating expenses, such as costs of goods sold and selling, general and administrative expenses, from revenue in a given period. If revenue equals $150,000 and operating expenses equal $100,000, your operating income is $50,000. Operating income is viewed as a critical sign of financial health in a business. It also signals to shareholders, creditors and company leaders what income the company is likely to maintain through regular business activities.

Net Income Basics

Net income is operating income plus any irregular revenue, and minus any irregular expenses. Investment or asset sales are examples of irregular revenue. Legal fees are a common irregular expense. While these expenses lower net income, they don't impact ongoing business activities. Therefore, net income is a company's true income for a specific period, but operating income often is more significant for future projections.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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