What is Margin of Safety?

Margin of Safety

Share This...

Margin of Safety

In business and finance, the margin of safety is a principle that involves selling products or services at a price higher than what it costs to produce them, which thereby allows for some slack in case of unexpected expenses or market fluctuations. This concept can be applied to a variety of business scenarios, such as pricing, investing, and financial forecasting.

When it comes to financial analysis, the margin of safety can be calculated to determine the difference between the actual (or expected) sales level and the break-even sales level. The break-even point is the sales level at which a company neither makes a profit nor incurs a loss. The margin of safety is typically expressed as a percentage and can be calculated as follows:

Margin of Safety = (Actual Sales – Break-Even Sales) / Actual Sales

The higher the margin of safety, the lower the risk of not covering all your costs if sales drop. A high margin of safety indicates that a company can withstand a decline in sales without incurring losses. Therefore, this metric is important for risk management and strategic planning.

In the context of investing, the margin of safety is a principle popularized by Benjamin Graham, the mentor of Warren Buffet, and it refers to purchasing securities at a price significantly below their calculated intrinsic value. The difference allows investments to be made with minimal downside risk.

Example of Margin of Safety

Let’s use “Cycles Inc.”, the bicycle manufacturer, for the example.

Let’s say Cycles Inc. expects to sell 1,000 bicycles this year. The price of each bicycle is $500, so the total expected sales are $500,000.

After performing a break-even analysis, Cycles Inc. determines that they need to sell 800 bicycles to cover all their fixed and variable costs. So, the break-even sales are 800 bicycles, or $400,000.

To calculate the Margin of Safety:

Margin of Safety = (Actual Sales – Break-Even Sales) / Actual Sales Margin of Safety = ($500,000 – $400,000) / $500,000 Margin of Safety = $100,000 / $500,000 Margin of Safety = 0.20 or 20%

This means Cycles Inc. has a 20% margin of safety. This indicates that sales could decrease by up to 20% (or 200 bicycles) before the company would start to incur losses. This is valuable information for Cycles Inc. as it allows them to understand their risk and make more informed decisions about pricing, cost control, and business expansion.

Other Posts You'll Like...

Want to Pass as Fast as Possible?

(and avoid failing sections?)

Watch one of our free "Study Hacks" trainings for a free walkthrough of the SuperfastCPA study methods that have helped so many candidates pass their sections faster and avoid failing scores...