What Is Net Realizable Value (NRV)?

Net realizable value (NRV) is a valuation method, common in inventory accounting, that considers the total amount of money an asset might generate upon its sale, less a reasonable estimate of the costs, fees, and taxes associated with that sale or disposal.

Key Takeaways

  • Net realizable value (NRV) accounts for the value of an asset in terms of the amount it would receive upon sale, minus selling costs.
  • NRV is a conservative method used by accountants to ensure the value of an asset isn't overstated.
  • It is a common method used to evaluate accounts receivable and inventory, and is also used in cost accounting.
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Net Realizable Value

Understanding Net Realizable Value

NRV is a common method used to evaluate an asset's value for inventory accounting. Two of the largest assets that a company may list on a balance sheet are accounts receivable and inventory. NRV is used to value both of these asset types. NRV is a valuation method used in both generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and international financial reporting standards (IFRS).

GAAP requires that certified public accountants (CPAs) apply the principle of conservatism to their accounting work. Many business transactions allow for judgment or discretion when choosing an accounting method. The principle of conservatism requires accountants to choose the more conservative approach to all transactions. This means that the accountant should use the accounting method that generates less profit and does not overstate the value of assets.

NRV is a conservative method for valuing assets because it estimates the true amount the seller would receive net of costs if the asset were to be sold.

The following steps should be taken to calculate NRV:

  • Determine the expected selling price of an asset
  • Determine all the costs associated with the eventual sale of the asset
  • Calculate the difference between the expected selling price of an asset and the costs associate with its sale

The formula for determining net realizable value (NRV) is:

NRV = Expected selling price - Total production and selling costs

Examples of Uses for Net Realizable Value

Accounts Receivable

An accounts receivable balance is converted into cash when customers pay their outstanding invoices, but the balance must be adjusted down for clients who don’t make payment. NRV for accounts receivable is calculated as the full receivable balance less an allowance for doubtful accounts, which is the dollar amount of invoices that the company estimates to be bad debt.

Inventory

GAAP rules previously required accountants to use the lower of cost or market (LCM) method to value inventory on the balance sheet. If the market price of inventory fell below the historical cost, the principle of conservatism required accountants to use the market price to value inventory. Market price was defined as the lower of either replacement cost or NRV.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the independent organization that establishes GAAP standards, issued an update in 2015 to its code that changed the inventory accounting requirements for companies, provided they do not use last-in-first-out (LIFO) or retail methods. Companies must now use the lower of cost or NRV method, which is more consistent with IFRS rules. In essence, the term "market" has been replaced with "net realizable value."

When a company buys inventory, it may incur extra costs to store or prepare the goods for sale. The costs associated with storing inventory are referred to as the carrying cost of inventory. Assume, for example, a retailer purchases large pieces of expensive furniture as inventory, and the company has to build a display case and hire a contractor to carefully move the furniture to the buyer's home. These extra costs are subtracted from the selling price to compute the NRV.

Cost Accounting

Cost accounting is a heuristic method used by some firms to account internally for costs associated with various business activities.

NRV is used to account for such costs when two products are produced together in a joint costing system until the products reach a split-off point. Each product is then produced separately after the split-off point, and NRV is used to allocate previous joint costs to each of the products. This allows managers to calculate the total cost and assign a sale price to each product individually.

How to Calculate Net Realizable Value?

Net realizable value (NRV) is is a common method used to evaluate an asset's value for inventory accounting. It is found by determining the expected selling price of an asset and all the costs associated with the eventual sale of the asset, and then calculating the difference between these two. To put it in formulaic terms, NRV = Expected selling price - Total production and selling costs.

What Are Some Examples of NRV Usage?

NRV for accounts receivable is calculated as the full receivable balance less an allowance for doubtful accounts, which is the dollar amount of invoices that the company estimates to be bad debt. NRV is also used to account for costs when two products are produced together in a joint costing system until the products reach a split-off point. Each product is then produced separately after the split-off point, and NRV is used to allocate previous joint costs to each of the products. GAAP rules previously required accountants to use the lower of cost or market (LCM) method to value inventory on the balance sheet. This was updated in 2015 to where companies must now use the lower of cost or NRV method, which is more consistent with IFRS rules. In essence, the term "market" has been replaced with "net realizable value."

What Is Accounting Conservatism?

Accounting conservatism is a principle that requires company accounts be prepared with caution and high degrees of verification. These bookkeeping guidelines must be followed before a company can make a legal claim to any profit. The general concept is to factor in the worst-case scenario of a firm’s financial future. Uncertain liabilities are to be recognized as soon as they are discovered. In contrast, revenues can only be recorded when they are assured of being received.