Revenue vs. Income: An Overview

Revenue is the total amount of income generated by the sale of goods or services related to the company's primary operations. Revenue is often referred to as the top line because it sits at the top of the income statement. The top line refers to a company's revenues or gross sales. The revenue number is the income a company generates before any expenses are taken out. Therefore, when a company has "top-line growth," the company is experiencing an increase in gross sales or revenue.

Income, or net income, is a company's total earnings or profit. When investors and analysts speak of a company's income, they're actually referring to net income or the profit for the company. Net income is calculated by taking revenues and subtracting the costs of doing business, such as depreciation, interest, taxes, and other expenses.

Revenue

Both revenue and net income are useful in determining the financial strength of a company, but they are not interchangeable. Revenue only indicates how effective a company is at generating sales and revenue and does not take into consideration operating efficiencies which could have a dramatic impact on the bottom line.

Income

The bottom line, or net income, describes how efficient a company is with its spending and managing its operating costs. Income is often considered a synonym for revenue since both terms refer to positive cash flow. However, in a financial context, the term income almost always refers to the bottom line or net income since it represents the total amount of earnings remaining after accounting for all expenses and additional income. Net income appears on a company's income statement and is an important measure of the profitability of a company. 

[Important: Just as revenue is the top line, net income is the bottom line or the "bottom" figure on a company's income statement.]

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What Is The Difference Between Revenue And Income?

Revenue vs. Income: Example

Apple Inc. (AAPL) posted a top-line revenue number of $261.612 for the 12 months of 2018. The company's revenue number represented a 9.38 percent year-over-year increase. Apple posted $59.43 billion in net income for the same period, which represented a 17.63 percent increase year-over-year.

We can see that Apple's net income is smaller than their total revenue since net income is the result of total revenue minus all of Apple's expenses for the period. The example above shows how different income is from revenue when referring to a company's financials.  

Bottom line growth and revenue growth can be achieved in various ways. A company like Apple might experience top-line growth due to a new product launch like the new iPhone, a new service, or a new advertising campaign that lead to increased sales. Bottom-line growth might have occurred from the increase in revenues, but also from cutting expenses or finding a cheaper supplier.

Key Takeaways

  • Revenue is the total amount of income generated by the sale of goods or services related to the company's primary operations.
  • Income or net income is a company's total earnings or profit. 
  • Both revenue and net income are useful in determining the financial strength of a company, but they are not interchangeable.