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Operating Income vs. Non Operating Income: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 3, 2023
Operating income is the profit earned from a firm's core business operations, while non-operating income is derived from secondary, non-core business activities.

Key Differences

Operating income, also known as operating profit, is the revenue a company earns from its core business activities, minus the costs associated with these activities. This figure is crucial for understanding a company's primary business efficiency. Non-operating income, on the other hand, is the revenue earned from non-core business activities. These can include one-time events or gains, such as selling an asset, and are not tied to the central operations of the business. Operating income gives insight into the company's operational health, while non-operating income reflects additional, often variable, financial gains or losses.
Operating income exclusively reflects the profitability from a company's main business activities. It's a direct indicator of how well the company is managed and how profitable its core business is. Non-operating income, conversely, is not directly related to the primary business activities. It might include income from investments, gains from foreign exchange, or proceeds from asset sales. This income can fluctuate significantly and does not necessarily reflect the company's operational performance.
For financial analysis, operating income is a more reliable measure of a company's long-term viability, as it is derived from the company's main business operations. Non-operating income can be less predictable and may not be sustainable. It's important for investors and analysts to distinguish between these two when evaluating a company's financial health.
To calculate operating income, one subtracts operating expenses, such as wages and cost of goods sold, from gross income. Non-operating income, however, is calculated by considering revenues and expenses outside of the company's main business operations. This can include interest income, dividends received, or gains from asset disposals.
Operating income can influence a company's strategic decisions, focusing on enhancing core business activities and processes. Non-operating income, while beneficial, is often seen as supplementary and less influential in strategic business planning, as it is not directly tied to the company's primary business operations.

Comparison Chart

Source of Income

Core business activities
Secondary, non-core activities


Regular and recurring
Irregular and sporadic


Core business efficiency
Additional financial activities


From core operations revenue minus expenses
From non-core activities like investments


Indicates long-term business health
Provides supplementary financial insight

Operating Income and Non Operating Income Definitions

Operating Income

Operating income reflects the profit a business makes from its core operations.
Despite increased sales, the operating income remained stable due to higher operational costs.

Non Operating Income

Non-operating income encompasses earnings from sources not integral to the business's primary function.
Rental income from company-owned properties is a form of non-operating income.

Operating Income

Operating income, or operating profit, is the total income a company makes from its business operations.
The retail chain's operating income rose sharply due to successful marketing strategies.

Non Operating Income

Non-operating income is the financial gain outside of a company's core business activities.
The windfall from a legal settlement was recorded as non-operating income.

Operating Income

Operating income is the revenue minus the day-to-day expenses of running a business.
The company's operating income increased as they reduced their manufacturing costs.

Non Operating Income

Non-operating income is the revenue from activities not related to a company’s main business.
The sale of old machinery contributed to this year’s non-operating income.

Operating Income

Operating income is the earnings before interest and taxes from primary business activities.
The firm’s operating income provides a clear picture of its manufacturing efficiency.

Non Operating Income

Non-operating income includes earnings from investments, interest, or one-time events.
The company’s non-operating income increased due to profitable stock investments.

Operating Income

Operating income is the profit earned after subtracting operating expenses like wages and rent from gross revenue.
The new product line significantly boosted the company's operating income.

Non Operating Income

Non-operating income is the income from occasional or secondary financial activities.
Profits from foreign currency exchanges were a major part of this year’s non-operating income.


How often is non-operating income recorded?

It's recorded as it occurs, which can be irregular and sporadic.

What is operating income?

Operating income is the profit from a company's main business activities, excluding expenses like wages and cost of goods sold.

Can a company have high non-operating income but low operating income?

Yes, this can happen if a company earns significantly from non-core activities but struggles in its main business.

Does operating income include interest and taxes?

No, operating income is calculated before interest and taxes are accounted for.

Is operating income a good indicator of a company's health?

Yes, it directly reflects the efficiency and profitability of the company's core business.

Do all companies report non-operating income?

Yes, if they have income or expenses outside their core business operations.

Can non-operating income be negative?

Yes, if expenses in non-core activities exceed revenues, non-operating income can be negative.

How is non-operating income different?

Non-operating income comes from activities not directly related to the core business, like investments or asset sales.

Why is separating these incomes important in financial analysis?

It helps in accurately assessing a company's operational efficiency and overall financial health.

How do non-operating incomes affect profitability?

They can provide additional profits or losses, but do not reflect the core business's performance.

Are gains from asset sales considered operating income?

No, they are typically classified as non-operating income.

How do companies improve their operating income?

By increasing efficiency, reducing costs, or boosting sales in their core business.

Do investors focus more on operating or non-operating income?

Investors generally focus more on operating income for long-term investment decisions.

Is depreciation expense included in operating income?

Yes, depreciation is typically an operating expense and thus included in operating income.

Can operating income be influenced by market conditions?

Absolutely, as it is directly related to the company's core business activities.

Can a business survive with low operating income but high non-operating income?

While possible, it's not sustainable long-term as it indicates weak core business performance.

Is operating income the same as EBIT?

Yes, EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) is another term for operating income.

Are royalties received considered operating or non-operating income?

It depends on the business; if royalties are central to the business model, they're operating income, otherwise, non-operating.

Can restructuring costs affect operating income?

Yes, these costs are part of operating expenses and impact operating income.

Does operating income include dividends received?

No, dividends received are usually categorized under non-operating income.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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