EBITDA: Definition, Calculation Formulas, and More

by Anup Maurya
EBITDA: Definition, Calculation Formulas, History, and Criticisms

EBITDA, which stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, is a crucial financial metric used to assess a company’s financial health and operational performance. It was developed in the 1970s by John C. Malone, the former president and CEO of Tele-Communications Inc., and has since become a valuable tool for businesses, investors, and analysts. This article will provide an in-depth understanding of EBITDA, including its definition, importance, calculation, historical context, and criticisms.


Definition and Importance of EBITDA

EBITDA is a measure of a company’s financial performance that serves as an alternative to other metrics such as revenue, earnings, or net income. It allows businesses to focus on their operational profitability by excluding the impacts of non-operating decisions, such as interest expenses, tax rates, or significant intangible assets. By doing so, EBITDA provides a clearer picture of a company’s core operating performance, making it easier to compare the profitability of different companies within the same industry or across industries.

One of the key advantages of EBITDA is its ability to reveal a company’s long-term profitability and its capacity to repay future financing. Moreover, EBITDA can be a useful tool for generating comparisons between different companies and industries, making it valuable for investors, analysts, and business owners. For companies looking to sell or attract new investors, EBITDA is often used to assess and communicate the business’s value.

How is EBITDA Calculated

It is mostly calculated by subtracting a company’s expenses other than interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization from its net income. 

If you are looking for an answer to how to calculate EBITDA, typically, there are two formulas that can be used for the same.

By using this formula, businesses can arrive at a figure that reflects their operational profitability, providing a clearer understanding of their financial performance.

Companies implement these formulas to find out a specific aspect of their business effectively. Being a non-GAAP computation, one can select which expense they want to add to the net income. 

For instance, if an investor wants to check how a company’s financial standing can be affected by debt, they can exclude only depreciation and taxes.

Example of EBITDA Calculation 

Let an example, A Corporation XYZ Income Statement as on 30th March 2019 can be illustrated as an EBITDA example.

ParticularsAmount (Rs.)
Total Revenue25,000,000
Cost of Revenue12,500,000
Operating Expense5,000,000
Selling, General, and Administrative Expenses2,000,000
Interest Expense300,000
Income Tax1,500,000
Income from Operations3,700,000
Net Income3,200,000
Depreciation and Amortization1,000,000

Now, let’s calculate the EBITDA for XYZ Corporation:


So, in this example, the EBITDA for XYZ Corporation for the given period would be $6,000,000. This represents the earnings of the company before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are taken into account.

Historical Context

The history of EBITDA dates back to the 1970s when it was developed by John C. Malone. As the former president and CEO of Tele-Communications Inc., Malone recognized the need for a metric that could accurately measure a company’s financial health and its ability to generate cash flow. Over the years, EBITDA has gained widespread acceptance and has become a standard tool for financial analysis and business valuation.

EBITDA vs net profit

AspectEBITDANet Profit
DefinitionEarnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.Total profit of a company after deducting all expenses from total revenue.
CalculationEBITDA = Net Income + Interest + Taxes + Depreciation + AmortizationNet Profit = Total Revenue – Total Expenses
PurposeMeasures operating performance and cash flow.Indicates overall profitability after accounting for all expenses.
UseFocuses on core operating profitability, facilitates comparisons between companies.Provides a comprehensive view of a company’s overall financial health.
LimitationsDoes not account for all expenses and may overstate cash flow. Not regulated under GAAP.Includes all expenses, can be impacted by one-time events and non-operating costs. Regulated under GAAP.


Despite its widespread use, EBITDA has been the subject of criticism, particularly due to its exclusion of certain expenses. Critics argue that by ignoring expenditure, EBITDA can allow companies to mask problem areas in their financial statements, potentially leading to misleading assessments of a company’s financial health. Additionally, EBITDA is not recognized under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which means companies can interpret the formula and its components in different ways, potentially hiding red flags that could be uncovered during due diligence.


In conclusion, EBITDA is a valuable metric that provides insights into a company’s operational profitability and long-term financial prospects. While it has been widely adopted as a measure of business value, it is important to approach its use with a critical eye and an understanding of its limitations. By considering EBITDA in conjunction with other financial measures and working with trusted financial advisors, businesses can leverage this metric effectively to assess their performance, attract investors, and make informed strategic decisions.By understanding the definition, calculation, historical context, and criticisms of EBITDA, businesses and financial professionals can make more informed decisions and gain a deeper understanding of a company’s financial health and operational performance.

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