When you study a company as a possible investment for your portfolio, you probably examine factors such as its debt and cash levels, the growth rates of its revenue and earnings, its profit margins, its return on equity, and its price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Those are all good to look at.

Another worthwhile measure to check out is this: profit per employee -- or, alternatively, revenue per employee. Here's a look at why you might want to assess a company's profit or revenue per employee, along with a list of companies with high and low scores in that metric.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Revenue per employee

Looking at how much revenue a company generates per worker can tell you a lot. It's a measure of efficiency, for starters, as a high number means the company is able to bring in a lot of sales with relatively few workers. Comparing a company's revenue per employee with that of its peers can also let you see which company seems to be more efficient. After all, if you need a lot more workers to achieve the same revenue result as a rival, that means you're paying a lot more in salary and benefits, not to mention overhead related to those workers, such as space in offices and/or other worksites. It's not always worth comparing a company's number to other companies in different industries, as some industries simply require more or fewer workers.

It's also informative to check how a company's revenue per worker has changed over time. If the number is growing, the company is getting more efficient and workers more productive. If it's shrinking, you might want to look into why that might be happening.

Revenue numbers for companies can be found in financial statements issued quarterly by publicly traded companies -- on the income statement. (Note that some use the word revenue while others say sales -- they refer to the same thing.) It can be a bit trickier to find the number of employees. The number might be included in quarterly earnings reports or even on the website or in the company's boilerplate section at the end of a press release. You can usually find it in the company's annual 10-K report, too. Searching for the word "employees" or "associates" is usually productive.

Who brings in the most and least per worker?

So which businesses bring in the most money per worker? Here are lists of the top and bottom 10 companies in the U.S., presented by the folks at smallbusinessprices.co.uk in 2020. (Their methodology: "Using a seedlist from Fortune 500 and Share.com, we were able to look at the top performing companies' revenue figures and compared this to their number of employees.")

Here are the companies with the highest revenue per employee:

Company

Annual Revenue

Employees

Revenue per Employee

A-Mark Precious Metals

$7.6 billion

184

$41.3 million

StoneX Group

$27.6 billion

1,701

$16.2 million

Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)

$120 billion

7,400

$16.2 million

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (Freddie Mac)

$73.6 billion

6,621

$11.1 million

Valero Energy 

$111.4 billion

10,261

$10.9 million

PBF Energy

$27.2 billion

3,266

$8.3 million

AmerisourceBergen 

$167.9 billion

20,500

$8.2 million

Phillips 66 

$114.2 billion

14,200

$8.0 million

World Fuel Services 

$39.8 billion

5,000

$8.0 million

NGL Energy Partners

$17.3 billion

2,400

$7.2 million

Data source: Smallbusinessprices.co.uk, using data from the Fortune 500 and Share.com.

And here are the U.S. companies with the lowest revenue per employee:

Company

Annual Revenue

Employees

Revenue per Employee

Yum China Holdings 

$8.4 billion

450,000

$18,700

Darden Restaurants 

$8.1 billion

180,656

$44,726

ABM Industries 

$6.4 billion

140,000

$46,016

Hilton Worldwide Holdings

$8.9 billion

169,000

$52,698

Cognizant Technology Solutions 

$16.1 billion

281,600

$57,262

Aramark 

$15.8 billion

227,200

$69,497

Starbucks

$XX billion

291,000

$84,947

Synnex 

$XX billion

231,600

$86,588

Hanesbrands

$XX billion

68,000

$100,059

McDonald's

$XX billion

210,000

$100,120

Data source: Smallbusinessprices.co.uk, using data from the Fortune 500 and Share.com.

A colorful gauge labeled productivity is pointing to excellent.

Image source: Getty Images.

Profits per employee

It can also be informative to check out profits per employee, and some investors prefer such numbers, because while a company might generate massive revenue, that doesn't necessarily translate to massive profits.

Below are profits per worker for a bunch of high-profile tech companies.

Company

Annual Profit

Employees

Profit per Employee

Facebook

$18.5 billion

44,942

$411,308

Apple

$55.3 billion

137,000

$403,328

Alphabet

$34.3 billion

118,899

$288,842

Microsoft

$39.2 billion

144,000

$272,500

Lam Research 

$2.2 billion

10,700

$204,804

NVIDIA

$2.8 billion

13,775

$202,976

Intel

$21.0 billion

110,800

$189,964

Booking Holdings

$4.9 billion

26,400

$184,280

Micron Technology

$6.3 billion

37,000

$170,622

Texas Instruments

$5.0 billion

29,768

$168,537

Data source: Fortune.com, using data by Tipalti. 

As you study companies to see which ones might deserve berths in your portfolio, take a look at revenue -- and/or profit -- per employee to see how efficient and productive they are.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.