What is a Corporate Profit?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 May 2020
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Corporate profit is the net income earned by a business within a specific period on the economic calendar. Calculating this type of profit is essential not only to individual businesses, but also to economists who pay close attention to the economic growth of a nation’s economy. Looking closely at the amount of profit generated by a given company is also important to investors, since the increase of profits from one economic cycle to the next is one indicator that the business is likely to be a good investment.

There are several different ways to calculate corporate profit. One of the most common approaches is to base the figure on the profits earned from current production. This approach is sometimes known as calculating operating profits, since it is based on active production, with some allowances for replacement of inventory as orders are filled, and the resulting shifts in tax owed on the inventory.

Another approach to determining corporate profits focuses on what is known as the book profits. This strategy focuses on net income generated during the period, less any adjustments for inventory or any depreciation that is incurred during that same period. This model is a relatively simple approach that is in common use in many industries around the world.

A third means of arriving at the corporate profit for a given period is known as after-tax profit. To determine profits using this model, any applicable taxes that apply to the book profits for the period are deducted from the total amount of the corporate profit. Increasingly, this approach is recognized as the most balanced and therefore the most relevant approach to arriving at a realistic figure that is more meaningful for investors.

When utilized as an evaluation by potential investors, the level of corporate profit associated with both an industry and the individual companies within that industry is very important. Ideally, the investor will want to identify the companies within the industry that are increasing in profitability from one period to the next. This can be particularly important if the industry as a whole is somewhat stagnant in terms of economic growth, or is actually posting a loss of profits overall. By identifying the companies that are earning the highest amount of profits in whatever economic climate prevails, the chances of buying stock that consistently earns reasonable dividends is greatly increased.

On a national scale, assessing corporate profit is very important to identifying trends within the general economy. Carefully analyzing the available data related to changes in the gross domestic product, shifts within the industries that underpin the economy, and the pattern of growth or decline over recent periods can often make it possible to accurately project an upcoming period of recession or inflation. In turn, industries and governments can take steps to minimize the negative impact of these upcoming economic shifts and minimize damage to the national economy.

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