Dentistry tops profit-margin list for 2008

Dental offices produced the highest profit margin of any private business in the U.S. in 2008, according to data released this week by Sageworks.

The Raleigh, NC-based company specializes in private company financial analysis.

Dental offices topped Sageworks' most recent list of the 10 most profitable industries last year, with a 16.9% net profit margin. Second on the list were accounting, tax preparation, and payroll service business, with a net profit margin of 15.6%. Third were law firms at 13.4%, followed by doctor's offices and other health practitioners at 12%.

"A strong profit margin often reflects solid operations management and also positions these industries to stand in the current downturn where consumer sentiment and spending have hit record lows," the company stated in an e-mail to "Another factor in the sustainability of these industries throughout the downturn is that a number of them are service-oriented, making them more necessary than a typical retail expenditure."

Sageworks uses artificial intelligence and proprietary data analysis software to generate financial data collected from certified public accountants, bankers, and credit analysts who use the data cooperatively in their consulting work with clients.

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