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  • Writer's pictureMatt Ting

What is the Break-Even Point? (Formula and Calculation)

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What is the Break-Even Point?

The break-even point is a crucial financial milestone that signifies the point at which a company's total revenues equal its total expenses, resulting in neither profit nor loss.

In simpler terms, it's the point where a business covers all its costs, and any additional sales or revenue generated beyond this point contributes to profit.

Break-Even Analysis Graph
Source: Shopify

Break-Even Point Formula

To calculate the break-even point, you need to consider a few key components: revenue per unit, fixed costs, and variable costs.

Revenue per Unit is the amount of money that a company earns per unit sold. This may simply be the price of the unit.

Fixed Costs are expenses that remain constant, such as rent, salaries, and insurance. Variable Costs, on the other hand, fluctuate with the level of production or sales, including materials, labor, and direct production costs.

The formula to calculate the break-even point is:

Break-Even Point (BEP) = Fixed Costs / (Revenue per Unit - Variable Cost per Unit)

Break-Even Point Calculator/Exercise

Let's further explore this concept in this free Excel model, which provides a template to conduct break-even analysis.

You can use this template to quickly assess at which point a company can cover its total costs.

Break-Even Analysis Excel

Let's walk through this financial example to better understand the break-even analysis. Let's say we have a company with the following characteristics:

  • Revenue per Unit: $50.00

  • Variable Cost per Unit: $20.00

  • Fixed Costs: $30,000

What is the break-even point? What is the net profit or loss at this point?

We can calculate this by first computing the contribution margin, which is Revenue per Unit - Variable Cost per Unit.

  • Contribution Margin: Revenue per Unit - Variable Cost per Unit: $50.00 - $20.00

  • Contribution Margin: $30.00

Then, we would divide the Fixed Costs by the Contribution Margin. The Contribution Margin is essentially the gross profit we make per sale.

  • Break-Even Point: Fixed Costs / Contribution Margin

  • Break-Even Point: $30,000 / $30.00 = 1,000 units

Therefore, this company would need to sell 1,000 units in order to cover its costs.

Above 1,000 units, this company would be generating a profit. Below 1,000 units, this company would be generating a loss.

Said differently, the net profit at this break-even point of 1,000 units is $0.

If you're interested in modeling out this problem yourself, check out our free break-even analysis Excel model.

Real-World Applications

Imagine a startup company that incurs significant upfront costs, such as product development and marketing expenses. In its early days, the company is operating at a loss as it ramps up production and acquires customers.

The break-even point becomes a critical goal for the startup because once it reaches that point, it will start generating profit.

Break-Even Infographic
Source: Napkin Finance

Let's look at a manufacturing company as another example. By analyzing the break-even point, this company can determine how many units it needs to produce and sell to cover its manufacturing and operational costs. This information is invaluable in setting pricing strategies and making production decisions.

Break-Even Analysis Tools

In finance, there are various tools and methods used for break-even analysis. Sensitivity analysis, for instance, helps professionals assess how changes in variables like selling price or production costs impact the break-even point. This sensitivity analysis enables better decision-making in an ever-changing business environment.

However, it's essential to recognize that break-even analysis comes with limitations and assumptions. It assumes that fixed and variable costs remain constant, which may not always be the case in the real world. Seasonal fluctuations, economic changes, and shifts in consumer demand can all affect the accuracy of break-even analysis.

Practical Tips for Corporate Finance Professionals

For corporate finance professionals, mastering the break-even point can be a game-changer. By optimizing pricing strategies to reach the break-even point sooner, companies can enhance profitability.

Additionally, cost-cutting measures and efficiency improvements can lower the break-even threshold, allowing businesses to weather economic downturns more effectively.

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