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In The Black

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In the black means to be profitable. The term in the black comes from the tradition of showing positive numbers in black, and negative numbers in red. In the black is often used when a company has moved from net loss to net profit, or vice versa. Thus a stock analyst might write "After spilling red ink in 200X and 200Y, the company has been in the black since 200Z." In the black is an ambiguous term. It usually means net income, but used loosely, it could also mean operating or pretax income. Further, a company that records $1 million in profits and a company that makes $1 billion in profit are both "in the black." Thus, the expression in the black is best avoided, except perhaps as an attention-grabbing device, as in a headline.

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