Overstating (O) or understating (U) inventory has an effect not only on the balance sheet but also on reported income and cash flow. O and U occur when the purchase price and value of inventory change over time. Let's take, for example, a company that trades scrap steel.
The best way to illustrate O and U is to do it through an example.
|COGS = beginning inventory + purchases - ending inventory|
If the price of a company's inputs (such as steel, lumber, etc.) is rising:
- COGS will be understated.
- Income will be overstated.
- The company will pay more income tax and have a lower cash flow.
- Assets on the balance sheet will be more reflective of the actual market value.
- Working capital and current ratio will be increased.
- COGS will be more reflective of current market environment.
- Income will be lower.
- The company will pay less income tax and cash flow would be higher.
- Assets would be understated and not reflective of its market value.
- Working capital and current ratio will be decreased.
- Since it's an average, it would be in between LIFO and FIFO
Specific identification method
If this method is used, it is extremely hard to tell, since each product has been accounted for individually. Questions of the effect of prices are common in CFA exams as well as most basic accounting exams but often overlooked. This example of rising prices (inflationary environment) can be viewed in various ways: Under FIFO, while the company will pay more in taxes, investors may overlook this due to the increase in income and working capital. Under LIFO, the lower income scenario may be only temporary and reverse in the next reporting period when they sell the inventory that was acquired before the rising price scenario.
COGS = beginning inventory + purchases - ending inventory
In the past, exam questions typically focus on differences between LIFO and FIFO, but don't rely on the past.
InvestingWe explain why Last-In-First-Out is banned under IFRS
InvestingBy using LIFO (last in, first out) when prices are rising, companies reduce their taxes and also better match revenues to their latest costs.
InvestingDiscover how to analyze a company's inventory by understanding different types of inventory and doing a quantitative and qualitative assessment of inventory.
Small BusinessA company that uses the first in, first out inventory valuation method will sell, use, or dispose of assets that it produced or acquired first.
InvestingWhether a company chooses FIFO or LIFO has important implications for the bottom line and for tax liability.
InvestingDays Sales of Inventory, also called Days Inventory Outstanding, is a key financial measurement of a company's performance pertaining to inventory management. In simple terms, it tells how many ...
Small BusinessHere we offer some cost-saving measures to strengthen your business even when the market is weak.
InvestingCompanies have ways of manipulating their balance sheets that investors should be aware of.
InvestingThree useful indicators for measuring a retail company's efficiency are its inventory turnaround times, its receivables and its collection period.
InvestingAn overview of the two primary inventory accounting systems.