What Is the Breakeven Point (BEP)?
The breakeven point (break-even price) for a trade or investment is determined by comparing the market price of an asset to the original cost; the breakeven point is reached when the two prices are equal.
In corporate accounting, the breakeven point formula is determined by dividing the total fixed costs associated with production by the revenue per individual unit minus the variable costs per unit. In this case, fixed costs refer to those which do not change depending upon the number of units sold. Put differently, the breakeven point is the production level at which total revenues for a product equal total expenses.
- In accounting, the breakeven point is calculated by dividing the fixed costs of production by the price per unit minus the variable costs of production.
- The breakeven point is the level of production at which the costs of production equal the revenues for a product.
- In investing, the breakeven point is said to be achieved when the market price of an asset is the same as its original cost.
Understanding Breakeven Points (BEPs)
Breakeven points can be applied to a wide variety of contexts. For instance, the breakeven point in a property would be how much money the homeowner would need to generate from a sale to exactly offset the net purchase price, inclusive of closing costs, taxes, fees, insurance, and interest paid on the mortgage—as well as costs related to maintenance and home improvements. At that price, the homeowner would exactly break even, neither making nor losing any money.
Traders also apply BEPs to trades, figuring out what price a security must reach to exactly cover all costs associated with a trade including taxes, commissions, management fees, and so on. A company's breakeven is likewise calculated by taking fixed costs and dividing that figure by the gross profit margin percentage.
Stock Market Breakeven Points
Assume an investor buys Microsoft stock at $110. That is now their breakeven point on the trade. If the price moves above $110, the investor is making money. If the stock drops below $110, they are losing money.
If the price stays right at $110, they are at the BEP, because they are not making or losing anything.
Options Trade Breakeven Points
Call Option Breakeven Point Example
For options trading, the breakeven point is the market price that an underlying asset must reach for an option buyer to avoid a loss if they exercise the option. For a call buyer, the breakeven point is reached when the underlying is equal to the strike price plus the premium paid, while the BEP for a put position is reached when the underlying is equal to the strike price minus the premium paid. The breakeven point doesn't typically factor in commission costs, although these fees could be included if desired.
Assume that an investor pays a $5 premium for an Apple stock call option with a $170 strike price. That means the investor has the right to buy 100 shares of Apple at $170 per share at any time before the options expire. The breakeven point for the call option is the $170 strike price plus the $5 call premium, or $175. If the stock is trading below this, the benefit of the option has not exceeded its cost.
If the stock is trading at $190 per share, the call owner buys Apple at $170 and sells the securities at the $190 market price. The profit is $190 minus the $175 breakeven price, or $15 per share.
Put Option Breakeven Point Example
Assume an investor pays a $4 premium for a Facebook put option with a $180 strike price. That allows the put buyer to sell 100 shares of Facebook stock at $180 per share until the option's expiration date. The put position's breakeven price is $180 minus the $4 premium, or $176. If the stock is trading above that price, the benefit of the option has not exceeded its cost.
If the stock is trading at a market price of $170, for example, the trader has a profit of $6 (breakeven of $176 minus the current market price of $170).
Business Breakeven Points
The breakeven formula for a business provides a dollar figure they need to break even. This can be converted into units by calculating the contribution margin (unit sale price less variable costs). Dividing the fixed costs by the contribution margin will provide how many units are needed to break even.
Business Breakeven=Gross Profit MarginFixed Costs
The information required to calculate a business's BEP can be found in its financial statements. The first pieces of information required are the fixed costs and the gross margin percentage.
Assume a company has $1 million in fixed costs and a gross margin of 37%. Its breakeven point is $2.7 million ($1 million / 0.37). In this breakeven point example, the company must generate $2.7 million in revenue to cover its fixed and variable costs. If it generates more sales, the company will have a profit. If it generates fewer sales, there will be a loss.
It is also possible to calculate how many units need to be sold to cover the fixed costs, which will result in the company breaking even. To do this, calculate the contribution margin, which is the sale price of the product less variable costs.
Assume a company has a $50 sale price for their product and variable costs of $10. The contribution margin is $40 ($50 - $10). Divide the fixed costs by the contribution margin to determine how many units the company has to sell: $1 million / $40 = 25,000 units. If the company sells more units than this it will show a profit. If it sells less, there will be a loss.
What Is a Breakeven Point?
A breakeven point is used in multiple areas of business and finance. In accounting terms, it refers to the production level at which total production revenue equals total production costs. In investing, the breakeven point is the point at which the original cost equals the market price. Meanwhile, the breakeven point in options trading occurs when the market price of an underlying asset reaches the level at which a buyer will not incur a loss.
How Do You Calculate a Breakeven Point?
Generally, to calculate the breakeven point in business, fixed costs are divided by the gross profit margin. This produces a dollar figure that a company needs to break even. When it comes to stocks, if a trader bought a stock at $200, and nine months later it reached $200 again after falling from $250, it would have reached the breakeven point.
How Do You Calculate a Breakeven Point in Options Trading?
Consider the following example in which an investor pays a $10 premium for a stock call option, and the strike price is $100. The breakeven point would equal the $10 premium plus the $100 strike price, or $110. On the other hand, if this were applied to a put option, the breakeven point would be calculated as the $100 strike price minus the $10 premium paid, amounting to $90.