Long-Term Investments

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What are 'Long-Term Investments'

A long-term investment is an account on the asset side of a company's balance sheet that represents the company's investments, including stocks, bonds, real estate and cash, that it intends to hold for more than a year. The long-term investment account differs largely from the short-term investment account in that the short-term investments will most likely be sold, whereas the long-term investments may never be sold.

BREAKING DOWN 'Long-Term Investments'

A common form of long-term investing occurs when company A invests largely in company B and gains significant influence over company B without having a majority of the voting shares. In this case, the purchase price would be shown as a long-term investment.

When a holding company or other firm purchases bonds or shares of common stock as investments, the decision about whether to classify it as short-term or long-term has some fairly important implications for the way those assets are valued on the balance sheet. Short-term investments are marked to market, and any declines in value are recognized as a loss. However, increases in value are not recognized until the item is sold. Therefore, the balance sheet classification of an investment – whether it is long-term or short-term – has a direct impact on net income reported on the income statement.

Held to Maturity Investments

If an entity intends to keep an investment until it has matured and the company can demonstrate the ability to do so, the investment is noted as being "held to maturity." The investment is recorded at cost, although any premiums or discounts are amortized over the life of the investment. The long-term investment may be written down to properly reflect an impaired value. However, there may not be any adjustment for temporary market fluctuations. Because investments must have an end date, equity securities may be not be classified as held to maturity.

Available for Sale and Trading Investments

Investments held with the intention of resale for a short-term profit are classified as current investments. A trading investment may not be a long-term investment. However, a company may hold an investment with the intention to sell in the future. These investments are classified as "available for sale" as long as the anticipated sale date is not within the next 12 months. Available for sale long-term investments are recorded at cost when purchased and subsequently adjusted to reflect their fair values at the end of the reporting period. Unrealized holding gains or losses are kept as "other comprehensive income" until the long-term investment has been sold.

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