Profit Center

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DEFINITION of 'Profit Center'

A branch or division of a company that is accounted for on a standalone basis for the purposes of profit calculation. A profit center is responsible for generating its own results and earnings, and as such, its managers generally have decision-making authority related to product pricing and operating expenses. Profit centers are crucial in determining which units are the most and least profitable within an organization.

BREAKING DOWN 'Profit Center'

The concept of profit centers enables a company's executives and management to determine how best to focus its resources to maximize profitability. In order to optimize profits, management may decide to allocate more resources to highly profitable areas, while reducing allocations to less profitable or loss-making units.

Not all units within an organization can be tracked as profit centers. This is especially applicable to departments that provide an essential service within an organization, but do not generate their own revenues. Some examples of these include the research department within a broker-dealer, the administration arm of a company, and a unit that provides after-sales support in an organization.

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