Rob Holland Assistant Extension Specialist Agricultural Development Center
One of the most common tools used in evaluating the economic feasibility of a new enterprise or product is the break-even analysis. The break-even point is the point at which revenue is exactly equal to costs. At this point, no profit is made and no losses are incurred. The break-even point can be expressed in terms of unit sales or dollar sales. That is, the break-even units indicate the level of sales that are required to cover costs. Sales above that number result in profit and sales below that number result in a loss. The break-even sales indicates the dollars of gross sales required to break-even. It is important to realize that a company will not necessarily produce a product just because it is expected to breakeven. Many times, a certain level of profitability or return on investment is desired. If this objective cannot be reached, which may mean selling a substantial number of units above break-even, the product may not be produced. However, the break-even is an excellent tool to help quantify the level of production needed for a new business or a new product. Break-even analysis is based on two types of costs: fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs are overhead-type expenses that are constant and do not change as the level of output changes. Variable expenses are not constant and do change with the level of output. Because of this, variable expenses are often stated on a per unit basis. Once the break-even point is met, assuming no change in selling price, fixed and variable cost, a profit in the amount of the difference in the selling price and the variable costs will be recognized. One important aspect of break-even analysis is that it is normally not this simple. In many instances, the selling price, fixed costs or variable costs will not remain constant resulting in a change in the break-even.. And these changes...