What is EBITDA?

Meaning of EBITDA

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) is a measure of a company’s financial performance, acting as an alternative to other metrics like revenue, earnings or net income. Though often shown on an income statement.

When evaluating the performance of a company, EBITDA is commonly used as a metric. Essentially, EBITDA is used to assess the underlying profitability of the operating businesses alone, i.e., how much profit is generated by the business through the provision of services, the sale of goods, and so on during a given time period. Due to the fact that the cost items excluded from the EBITDA computation are largely independent of the operating business, this type of analysis is useful for gaining an understanding of just how profitable the operating business is on its own: For example, the interest payments are determined by the company's financing structure, tax payments in the relevant jurisdictions, interest payments, depreciation on the asset base and depreciation policy chosen, and amortization on takeover history, which has an impact on goodwill, among other factors. EBITDA is a commonly used metric to determine the value of both private and public companies. In an attempt to present EBITDA as a measure of the underlying profitability of the operating business, EBITDA is frequently adjusted for extraordinary expenses, that is, expenses that the company believes do not occur on a regular basis, in the financial statements. These adjustments can include bad debt expenses, any legal settlements that have been paid, acquisition costs, charitable contributions, and the salaries of the owner or members of his or her family. The metric that is produced as a result is referred to as adjusted EBITDA or EBITDA before exceptional.

If a company's EBITDA is negative, it indicates that it is experiencing fundamental difficulties with profitability. However, a positive EBITDA does not necessarily imply that the business is profitable or that it generates cash. The reason for this is that cash generation in a business is dependent on EBITDA, in addition to other factors such as capital expenditures (which are required to replace assets that have failed), taxes, interest, and changes in Working Capital.

Here are five main components to the EBITDA equation.

Earnings- It actually refers to net profit or simply net income. Located at the bottom of the income statement, this is the company's net profit at its most basic level of operation.

Taxes- The amount of tax owed varies from year to year and from business to business. This is frequently determined by the industry, location, and size of the organization. On the income statement, this figure is typically found in the non-operating expenses section, which is a subset of the operating expenses section.

Interest Expense- Interest expense varies from company to company and from industry to industry, just as it does with taxes. Companies in more capital-intensive industries are more likely than their counterparts in less capital-intensive industries to have higher interest expenses on their income statements. Additionally, this expense can be found in the section titled "non-operating expenses."

Depreciation and Amortization- Expenses that appear in the operating expense section of the income statement are incurred to allocate the cost of a capital asset during the period and to record the asset's usage.


The EBITDA metric is frequently used as a proxy for cash flow in financial statements. This method can provide an analyst with a quick estimate of the value of a company, in addition to a valuation range, by multiplying the value of the company by a valuation multiple derived from equity research reports, industry transactions, or mergers and acquisitions.

Additionally, when a company is not making a profit, investors can use EBITDA to evaluate the performance of the company. This metric is widely used by private equity firms because it is extremely useful for comparing similar companies in the same industry, which is where it originated. It is used by business owners to compare their own performance to that of their competitors.

Limitations Of EBITDA

As a measure of financial performance, EBITDA does not fall under the purview of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) as it does for other financial measures. Because EBITDA is considered a "non-GAAP" measure, the method by which it is calculated can differ from one company to the next. It is not uncommon for companies to place greater emphasis on EBITDA than on net income because it is more flexible and can draw attention away from other areas of concern in the financial statements.

When a company begins to report EBITDA prominently for the first time after not previously doing so, this is a significant red flag for investors to look out for. This can occur when a company has taken on a large amount of debt or is experiencing an increase in its capital and development costs. In this situation, earnings before interest and taxes (EBITDA) can serve as a diversion for investors and be misleading.