Selling, General & Administrative Expense - SG&A

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DEFINITION of 'Selling, General & Administrative Expense - SG&A'

Reported on the income statement, it is the sum of all direct and indirect selling expenses and all general and administrative expenses of a company.

Direct selling expenses are expenses that can be directly linked to the sale of a specific unit such as credit, warranty and advertising expenses. Indirect selling expenses are expenses which cannot be directly linked to the sale of a specific unit, but which are proportionally allocated to all units sold during a certain period, such as telephone, interest and postal charges. General and administrative expenses include salaries of non-sales personnel, rent, heat and lights.

BREAKING DOWN 'Selling, General & Administrative Expense - SG&A'

High SG&A expenses can be a serious problem for almost any business. Examining this figure as a percentage of sales or net income compared to other companies in the same industry can give some idea of whether management is spending efficiently or wasting valuable cash flow. For example, in the television industry businesses that depend on a great deal of advertising must carefully monitor their marketing expenses. A good management team will often attempt to keep SG&A expenses under tight control and limited to a certain percentage of revenue by reducing corporate overhead (i.e. cost-cutting, employee lay-offs).

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