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Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization. Explanation EBITDA.


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What is EBITDA? Description

EBITDA stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. EBITDA came into wide use among private capital firms, wanting to calculate what they should pay for a business.

Calculation of EBITDA. Formula

      Net Sales

-     Operating Expenses


      Operating Profit (EBIT)

+    Depreciation Expenses

+    Amortization Expenses




The private capital firms that originally employed EBITDA as a useful valuation tool removed interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization from their earnings calculations in order to replace them with their own presumably more precise numbers:

  • They removed Taxes and Interest because they wanted to substitute their own tax-rate calculations and the financing costs they expected under a new capital structure.
  • Amortization was excluded because it measured the cost of intangible assets acquired in some earlier period, including goodwill, rather than any current expenditure of cash.
  • Depreciation, an indirect and backward-looking measure of capital expenditure, was excluded and replaced with an estimate of future capital expenditure.

Later, many public companies, analysts and journalists have urged investors to also use EBITDA to measure the cash which public companies generate. EBITDA is often compared with cash flow, because it rightfully adds back to net income two major expense categories that have no impact on cash: depreciation and amortization.

Why EBITDA can be misleading

Yet EBITDA is a very poor and even misleading mechanism if it is used to approximate cash flows of public companies! Why?

  1. It excludes taxes and interest, which are real cash items and not at all optional. A company must of course pay its taxes and loans.
  2. It does not exclude all non-cash items. Only depreciation and amortization are excluded. Among the non-cash items not adjusted for in EBITDA are bad-debt allowances, inventory write-downs, and the cost of stock options granted.
  3. Unlike proper measurements of cash flow, EBITDA ignores changes in working capital. Additional investments in working capital consume cash.
  4. Finally, the main flaw of EBITDA is in the E (Earnings). If a public company has over- or under-reserved for warranty costs, or for restructuring expenses, or for bad-debt allowances, its earnings will be skewed. Its EBITDA will be misleading. If it has recognized revenue prematurely or disguised ordinary costs as capital investments, its reports are suspect. If it has inflated revenue through round-trip asset trades, the E is of no informational value.

Book: Steven M. Bragg - Business Ratios and Formulas : A Comprehensive Guide -

Book: Ciaran Walsh - Key Management Ratios -

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortizati Forum (5 topics) Help
  Calculate the EBITDA on a US GAAP basis
Can anyone help me? I need to calculate the EBITDA on a US GAAP basis, i'm using Mexican GAAP. Is there is a diferent formula to calculate it?...
  The meaning of the A in EBITDA
In this topic EBITDA I understand EBITD but what is the meaning of the A ?...
  EBITDA helps in merger and acquisition
Just to shed some light on EBITDA and EBIT, they help in merger and acquisition as they reveal the earning capacity of a company....
  EBITDA for Aluminium Manufacturer
Can anyone please suggest me how do we calculate EBITDA for aluminium manufacturing company? Or is it correct to say quantity*NEP-total cost=EBITDA?
WHERE NEP=net effective premium.....
  EBITDA growing in Europe
A recent PwC survey based on analysis of 2,800 European financial statements found the following slightly growing percentages of companies of using EBITDA or similar measures (EBITA, EBITAE and EBITDAE - last E is Exceptionals) in the financial state...

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Compare with EBITDA:  EBIT  |  P/E Ratio  |  PEG Ratio  |  Relative Value of Growth  |  Economic Value Added  |  Economic Margin  |  Cash Ratio  |  Current Ratio  |  Earnings Per Share  |  Return on Equity  |  Return on Invested Capital  |  Market Value Added  |  CFROI  |  Fair Value  |  TSR  |  Seven Signs Of Ethical Collapse

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