Profits left after deductions.
Used inter-changeably with profits, earnings are measured at several different levels. On their own, they mean profits after all deductions, including tax, meaning they will either be distributed as dividends to shareholders or retained in the business to help fund future investments.
Another very common form is EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), which is used as a proxy for cash generation ? particularly where a company has made large up-front investments in the past.
Another often used option is EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Tax), which indicates pre-tax returns for all providers of finance and EBT (Earnings Before Tax) – pre-tax earnings for shareholders.