The marketing the difference between a profit center and an investment center is also helps understand what the customer needs. As a result, the organization stops doing what doesn’t generate profits and starts doing more of what develops. If actual costs are greater than standard costs, variance is unfavorable. While a Profit Center handles revenues and costs, the Investment Center manages revenues, costs, and assets. The difference between the Investment Center and the Profit Center is that it takes care of revenues, costs, and assets, while the Profit Center deals with revenues and costs.


A cost center is a function within an organization that does not directly add to profit but still costs an organization money to operate. Unlike a profit center, an investment center might invest in activities and assets that are not necessarily related to the company’s operations. It could be investments or acquisitions of other companies enabling diversification of the company’s risk. A new trend is the proliferation of venture arms within established corporations to enable investments in the next wave of trends through acquiring stakes in startups. While the profit centre is responsible for both the costs and revenue.

An extension of the profit center where revenues and costs are calculated is what is referred to as an investment center. However, the assets used are just measured and compared to the profit earned in an investment center. The objective of the cost centre is to ascertain and control cost.

Understanding Profit Centers

A skincare conglomerate owns a skin care manufacturing division, a skincare retail division, and a skincare service division. The skincare manufacturing division manufactures skincare products and sells these products to retailers. They are responsible for investing in manufacturing assets, generating revenue through product sales, and controlling costs. They are given a residual income target that they must meet.

Since the responsibilities of the department are only to hire, fire, and train employees within the company, they are a cost center. The department has no responsibility for generating a profit and only has the responsibility of serving its function within the budget. The retailer’s IT department installs, maintains, monitors, and protects all technological systems.

Whether to operate business units as profit centers or investment centers often depends on the attitude of the top management, nature of the business and industry practices. A profit center is a division or a branch of a company that is considered to be a standalone entity. A profit center is responsible for generating its own results where the managers generally have decision-making authority related to the product, pricing, and operating expenses.

Real World Examples of Profit Centers

Marginal analysis is an examination of the additional benefits of an activity when compared with the additional costs of that activity. Companies use marginal analysis as to help them maximize their potential profits. Let’s have a look at the four main objectives of investment centers. What are those basis on which any plant or dept is decided to be a profit center fund center or cost center. While the cost centre is not autonomous, the profit centre is autonomous.

  • Investment centers are increasingly important for firms as financialization leads companies to seek profits from investment and lending activities in addition to core production.
  • Hence, the subdivision of the factory into a number of departments becomes essential.
  • Companies evaluate the performance of an investment center according to the revenues it brings in through investments in capital assets compared to the overall expenses.
  • An investment center is different from a cost center, which does not directly contribute to the company’s profit and is evaluated according to the cost it incurs to run its operations.
  • Profit MarginsProfit Margin is a metric that the management, financial analysts, & investors use to measure the profitability of a business relative to its sales.
  • Cost centers are often departments that only provide support to the organization as a whole.

As a result, the organization won’t develop any new products or innovate on their current products/services. Eric Sottile has a bacholors degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky and a bachelors degree in finance from the University of Kentucky. Eric works for a public accounting firm and has passed his CPA exams with an average score of 94. The financing arm of an automobile maker or department store is a common example of an investment center. It helps ascertain whether some of the business’s resources may potentially become too costly for the firm or not. Parent CompanyA holding company is a company that owns the majority voting shares of another company .

So a cost center helps a company identify the costs and reduce them as much as possible. At the retailer Walmart, different departments selling different products could be divided into profit centers for analysis. For example, clothing could be considered one profit center while home goods could be a second profit center.


Revenues are important for a company because it is what keeps a business going. Since cost centers aren’t responsible for generating any revenue, the revenue from the profit and investment centers must cover the costs of the cost center. Divisional managers in investment centers may be highly motivated than managers in profit centers due to their authority in decision making.

generate revenues

Each operation is run as a profit center in its native nation, with divisional managers in charge of all choices regarding costs and revenues. A Profit Center is a company’s branch or division that is seen as existing independently. The administrators of a profit center can typically make decisions on the product, pricing, and operating costs.

The difference between cost center and profit center

When the actual quantity is more than the standard quantity, the variance would be unfavorable and vice-versa. Can be done in two ways – first through price variance and then through quantity variance. She has 20+ years of experience covering personal finance, wealth management, and business news.

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Let’s briefly recap what we’ve learned about cost centers, profit centers, and investment centers. Businesses consist of a number of different departments, and the company should evaluate the managers of each department based on the factors that they can control. An investment center also incurs costs and earns revenue, but the manager of an investment center also has control over the investments that it makes to earn profits for its department or division. For example, MN Books has a discount division and a division that sells textbooks to schools.

This company also generally controls the management of that company, as well as directs the subsidiary’s directions and policies. Calculate Windfall ProfitA windfall profit is a sudden income or profit of abundant and unexpected nature. This can happen due to winning a handsome lottery compensation or inheritance of wealth not expected or demand-supply problems where certain goods/services/commodities are in significant demand. Maximizing RevenuesRevenue maximization is the method of maximizing a company’s sales by employing methods such as advertising, sales promotion, demos and test samples, campaigns, references. There will be no branding or marketing department which means that the company will keep producing products, but no one will know about the products or the company.

These centres act as auxiliary units to the production cost centre. For example Canteen, Maintenance shop, Toolroom, Accounts, Power House, etc. Think of a situation when the whole factory is treated as a single unit for both budgeting and cost control purposes. What a mess it could be to compare the standards with the actual figures. In this situation, the desired objective will not be achieved. Hence, the subdivision of the factory into a number of departments becomes essential.

Comparing return on investment and residual income Helena Corporation operates three investment centers. The following financial statements apply to the investment center named Bowman Division.’s investor relations website provides operating and financial information to investors and other interested parties. Is this responsibility center classified as a cost center, revenue center, profit center, or investment center? Because they are not allowed to make investment decisions, profit centre divisional managers have less autonomy than investment centre managers. Managers of the investment centre division have a great degree of autonomy because they are allowed to make investment decisions.

If investing in alternative financial vehicles, then the investment can be susceptible to market volatility. Horizontal IntegrationHorizontal Integration is a merger that takes place between two companies operating in the same industry. These companies are usually competitors and merge to gain higher market power and economies of scale, an extensive customer base, higher pricing power, and lower employment cost. While Budgeting refers to planning the business revenues & expenditures for a specified period, Forecasting means predicting the future outcomes by analyzing historical & present trends.

Moreover, unlike a profit center, investment centers can utilize capital in order to purchase other assets. An investment center is a profit center that also handles revenue and cost-related choices in addition to investment-related ones. Business units known as “investment centers” are able to use capital to increase a company’s profitability. An investment center is different from a cost center, which does not directly contribute to the company’s profit and is evaluated according to the cost it incurs to run its operations. The performance of a profit center is evaluated based on profitability, whereas the performance of an investment center is evaluated based on the ROI of the investments made. The decision-making process and the time horizon are also different for both centers.

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To accumulate cost, we treat each such activity as a cost centre. And to calculate the cost of production of the respective cost centre, all the costs related to that particular activity would be accumulated separately. Return On AssetsReturn on assets is the ratio between net income, representing the amount of financial and operational income a company has, and total average assets. The arithmetic average of total assets a company holds analyses how much returns a company is producing on the total investment made.