## Definition of Gross Margin

Some use the term
*
gross margin
*
to mean the same as
*
gross profit
*
, which is:
*
net sales
*
minus the
*
cost of goods sold
*
. Others use the term
*
gross margin
*
to indicate the gross profit as a percentage of net sales.

The cost of goods sold will consist of both fixed and variable product costs. However, selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) are
*
not
*
part of the cost of goods sold.

## Definition of Contribution Margin

*
Contribution margin
*
is defined as
*
net sales
*
minus both the
*
variable product costs
*
and the
*
variable SG&A expenses
*
. The contribution margin can also be expressed as a percentage of net sales. In that case it is often described as the
*
contribution margin ratio
*
.

## Information for Examples

Let's assume that a company had the following amounts during the past year:

- Net sales of $600,000
- Cost of goods sold of $320,000 ($120,000 variable + $200,000 of fixed)
- Inventories did not increase or decrease
- SG&A expenses of $190,000 ($40,000 variable + $150,000 fixed)

## Example of Gross Margin

The company's gross margin is: net sales of $600,000 minus the cost of goods sold of $320,000 = $280,000. The gross margin or gross profit percentage is: gross profit of $280,000 divided by net sales of $600,000 = 46.7%.

## Example of Contribution Margin

The company's contribution margin is: net sales of $600,000 minus the variable product costs of $120,000 and the variable expenses of $40,000 = $440,000. The contribution margin ratio is 73.3% ($440,000 divided by $600,000).