Reporting and Interpreting Cost of Goods Sold and Inventory
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
Inventory often is one of the largest amounts listed under assets on the balance sheet which means that it represents a significant amount of the resources available to the business. The inventory may be excessive in amount, which is a needless waste of resources; alternatively it may be too low, which may result in lost sales. Therefore, for internal users inventory control is very important. On the income statement, inventory exerts a direct impact on the amount of income. Therefore, statement users are interested particularly in the amount of this effect and the way in which inventory is measured. Because of its impact on both the balance sheet and the income statement, it is of particular interest to all statement users.
Fundamentally, inventory should include those items, and only those items, legally owned by the business. That is, inventory should include all goods that the company owns, regardless of their particular location at the time.
The cost principle governs the measurement of the ending inventory amount. The ending inventory is determined in units and the cost of each unit is applied to that number. Under the cost principle, the unit cost is the sum of all costs incurred in obtaining one unit of the inventory item in its present state.
Goods available for sale is the sum of the beginning inventory and the amount of goods purchased during the period. Cost of goods sold is the amount of goods available for sale less the ending inventory.
Beginning inventory is the stock of goods on hand (in inventory) at the start of the accounting period. Ending inventory is the stock of goods on hand (in inventory) at the end of the accounting period. The ending inventory of one period automatically becomes the beginning inventory of the next period.
Average cost–This inventory costing method in a periodic inventory system is based on a weighted-average cost for the entire period. At the end of the accounting period the average cost is computed by dividing the goods available for sale in units into the cost of goods available for sale in dollars. The computed unit cost then is used to determine the cost of goods sold for the period by multiplying the units sold by this average unit cost. Similarly, the ending inventory for the period is determined by multiplying this average unit cost by the number of units on hand.
FIFO–This inventory costing method views the first units purchased as the first units sold. Under this method cost of goods sold is costed at the oldest unit costs, and the ending inventory is costed at the newest unit costs.
LIFO–This inventory costing method assumes that the last units purchased are the first units sold. Under this method cost of goods sold is costed at the latest unit costs and the ending inventory is costed at the oldest unit costs.
Specific identification–This inventory costing method requires that each item in the beginning inventory and each item purchased during the period be identified specifically so that its unit cost can be determined by identifying the specific item sold. This method usually requires that each item be marked, often with a code that indicates its cost. When it is sold, that unit cost is the cost of goods sold amount. It often is characterized as a pick-and-choose method. When the ending inventory is taken, the specific items on hand, valued at the cost indicated on each of them, is the ending inventory amount.
The specific identification method of inventory costing is subject to manipulation. Manipulation is possible because one can, at the time of each sale, select (pick and choose) from the shelf the item that has the highest or the lowest (or some other) unit cost with no particular rationale for the choice. The rationale may be that it is...
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