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EBITDA: A Measure of a Company’s Operating Profitability and Cash Flow

EBITDA is commonly used in financial analysis and valuation to assess a company’s ability to generate earnings from its core operations.

EBITDA is an extension of EBIT that adds back non-cash expenses related to depreciation and amortization to the operating income. Depreciation is the allocation of the cost of tangible assets (like buildings and equipment) over their useful lives, while amortization refers to the allocation of the cost of intangible assets (like patents and trademarks). By excluding these non-cash expenses, EBITDA provides a clearer picture of a company’s operational cash flow. The formula for EBITDA is:

EBITDA formula

EBITDA = EBIT + Depreciation + Amortization

EBITDA is often used to evaluate a company’s ability to generate cash from its operations and to compare companies’ financial performance, especially in cases where companies have different capital structures or levels of debt.

It’s important to note that while EBIT and EBITDA are useful for assessing operational performance, they do not consider the impact of capital expenditures, changes in working capital, or other financing and investing activities. As such, they should be used in conjunction with other financial metrics and information to form a comprehensive understanding of a company’s financial health. Additionally, EBIT and EBITDA are not standardized under accounting rules and can be calculated differently by different analysts or companies.

EBIT & EBITDA limitations

The relevance of EBIT and EBITDA metrics varies significantly based on the specific industries under consideration.

EBIT proves to be a more pertinent indicator of operational efficiency within sectors that have highly capital intensive industries such as Manufacturing, Infrastructure, Oil & Gas, Mining. In contrast, it holds less significance within the Service sector. The reason is highly capital intensive industry adds back lot of D&A expenses distorting it.

Conversely, EBITDA finds its greater utility within industries characterized by minimal capital expenditure requirements to sustain their operations. In such contexts, EBITDA emerges as a valuable gauge for assessing cash flow.

By employing EBIT and EBITDA metrics to compare companies operating within the same industry, we can discern those that encountered operational challenges in the past from those that excelled. Through this analysis, we can subsequently delve into qualitative aspects to identify the underlying factors contributing to these performance disparities.

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