Top-line & Bottom-line

Definition: Top line and bottom line are the terms used by finance professionals to indicate a company's revenue and its profits respectively. The terms originate from a financial statement called as 'Income-statement' or 'Profit and Loss Statement'. This statement typically starts with companies revenue for a period (quarter or year), and companies total revenue is the first line in that statement hence it is called as the top line number or just top line. The income statement has companies net profits and earnings per share towards the end of the statement and hence it is normally referred as the bottom line.

Explanation of topline & bottom-line:

We come across terms like top-line driven strategy or bottom line driven strategy to indicate how a company operates. Companies in their growth phase typically use top line driven strategy to gain market share. Consider the example of Amazon.com which is famous for its top line driven strategy. The company does not seem to care much for the profits it generates but has consistently achieved high revenue growth over last decade. This contrasts with a company like HP which recently announced a lot cost-cutting majors like employee head-count reduction, reduction in advertising & promotional spending etc. All such actions are part of bottom-line driven strategy where a company tries to be profitable at its current revenue base.


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