Cost Volume Profit Analysis

Things You Must Know

Introduction to Accounting

 Contribution Margin –

Sales revenue less all variable costs
It is the amount available to cover fixed costs and give profit

Less ALL Variable Costs
Contribution Margin
Less ALL Fixed Costs
Net Operating Income/Loss


Sales, variable costs, and contribution margin are expressed on a per unit basis because as volume changes the total $ changes.

Contribution margin per unit = Sales price per unit – all variable costs per unit


Contribution Margin Ratio = Contribution Margin             in total or per unit


The percent of every sales dollar that is available for profit once fixed costs are covered.


Change in Sales $
x Contribution Margin Ratio
= Change in Contribution Margin $

Break Even: Occurs when profit = 0, which occurs when contribution margin is equal to fixed costs 

Break Even for Unit Sold: 

               Fixed Costs____________
Contribution Margin Per Unit


Break Even for Sales $ 

               Fixed Costs_____________
Contribution Margin Ratio (%)

Add the desired profit to the formula to determine required to earn a before tax profit

Sell ? units to earn a profit:

        Fixed Costs + Profit
Contribution Margin Per Unit

 Sales $ of ? to achieve a certain profit: 

        Fixed Costs + Profit
Contribution Margin Ratio (%)


The profit should always be stated in before tax dollars. To convert after tax dollars to before tax dollars use this formula: After tax profit / (1 – tax rate %)

Margin of Safety = Total Budgeted or Current Sales – Break Even Sales

Margin of Safety % = Margin of Safety / Total Budgeted or Current

Operating Leverage: Used to estimate how much profits will change when sales dollars change??

= Contribution Margin =        A factor
    Net Operating Income


Take the factor times the % increase in sales to determine the % increase in profits that should occur

To get the expected income in dollars use this formula:

Operating Leverage Factor
x % increase in sales
= % increase in profits
x current profits
= added profits
+ current profits
= expected profits if sales increase by that %


Sales Mix: The percentage of total sales for each product.

This is important when a company has more than one product.

A change in sales mix can change the total profit.

Different products have a different contribution margin.

Lower sales in products with high contribution margins can reduce total company profits.

Higher sales in products with lower contribution margins can reduce total company profits.

When a company has more than one product CVP analysis is done in the following ways:

1. Using a total company average for the CM ratio:

         Total Contribution Margin for the Company = Total CM %
                    Total Sales for the Company

2. Use the weighted average (W.A.) method:

Compute a weighted average sales price per unit
Compute a weighted average contribution margin per unit
    Then W. A. CM per unit / W.A. Sales per unit = W. A. CM %

Determine if the company should increase fixed costs

Incremental Contribution Margin
less Increase in Fixed Expenses
= Change in Income from the Decision


To get the incremental contribution margin:

Expected Sales$ x % CM Ratio = Expected Contribution Margin
Less Current Sales $ x % CM Ratio = Current Contribution Margin
= Incremental Contribution Margin


Expected Sales in units X CM per unit = Total Expected CM
less Current Sales in units X CM per unit = Current CM
= Incremental CM


Cost Volume Profit Graph:

Put sales $ on the vertical axis and units on the horizontal axis
1) Draw a horizontal line for fixed expenses
2) Chose a volume of sales and put a dot for sales and total expenses
3) Draw a line from the sales dollar plot to the corner (0,0)
4) Draw a line from the total expense plot from the fixed expense line on the vertical axis

Where the two lines cross is the break – even point

The cost volume profit graph is not taught in most managerial accounting classes and the discussion here is very limited. Please see your class notes to determine if you need to know more on this topic.