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Lower of Cost or Market LCM Method Why It s Used and Application

Lower of Cost or Market LCM Method Why It s Used and Application

Lower of Cost or Market (LCM) Method: Why It’s Used and Application

What Is the Lower of Cost or Market (LCM) Method?

The lower of cost or market (LCM) method states that when valuing a company’s inventory, it is recorded on the balance sheet at either the historical cost or the market value. Historical cost refers to the cost at which the inventory was purchased.

The value of a good can shift over time. This is significant because if the price at which the inventory can be sold falls below the net realizable value (NRV) of the item, triggering a loss for the company, then the LCM method can be used to record the loss.

Key Takeaways

  • The LCM method relies on the fact that when investors value a company’s inventory, those assets shall be recorded on the balance sheet at either the market value or the historical cost.
  • Historical cost refers to the cost of inventory at the time it was originally purchased.
  • The LCM method takes into account that the value of a good can fluctuate. Under this scenario, if the price at which the inventory may be sold dips below the net realizable value (NRV) of the item, resulting in a loss, then the LCM method can be used to record the loss.
  • The LCM method is a tenet of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
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Why Is the LCM Method Used?

The LCM method allows companies to record losses by writing down the value of the affected inventory items. This value may be reduced to market value, defined as the middle value when comparing the cost to replace the inventory, the difference between the net realizable value and the typical profit on the item, and the net realizable value of the item. The amount by which the inventory item was written down is recorded under cost of goods sold on the balance sheet.

The LCM method is part of GAAP used in the United States and in international commerce. Almost all assets enter the accounting system with a value equal to acquisition cost. GAAP prescribes many different methods for adjusting asset values in subsequent reporting periods.

In 2017, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued an update to its code and standards that affect companies that use the average cost and last in, first out (LIFO) methods of inventory accounting. Companies that use these two methods of inventory accounting must now use the LCM method to be more consistent with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

Application of the LCM Rule

The LCM rule traditionally applies to companies with products that become obsolete or lose value due to a dwindled current market price. The market price should not be larger or smaller than the net realizable value, which is essentially the projected selling price minus disposal fees.

Other Factors in Applying the LCM Rule

  • Category analysis: The LCM rule may relate to a single product or a broad swath of related products.
  • Hedges: If inventory is hedged by a fair value hedge, the hedge’s effects should be added to the inventory’s cost, which may eliminate the need for LCM adjustments.
  • LIFO layer recovery: A write-down to the LCM can be avoided when evidence suggests that inventory will be restored by year’s end.
  • Raw materials: Raw material costs should not be written down if finished products are projected to sell at or above their costs.
  • Recovery: A write-down to the LCM may be avoided if ample evidence exists that market prices will climb before the sale of inventory.
  • Sales incentives: Potential LCM problems may exist with specific items where yet-to-be expired sales incentives are still in play.
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The LCM rule was recently changed, making things easier for businesses that do not use the retail method or the LIFO method. Under the new guidelines, the measurement can be solely restricted to the lower of cost or net realizable value.

Is the LCM Method Required by GAAP?

Yes, the LCM method is required under GAAP. This method became required as of 2017.

What Is the Meaning of the LCM Method?

The LCM method is used to value inventory by comparing the original cost and the current market price, and recording the cost of inventory by whichever is lower. This method is typically applicable to companies that hold inventories for extended periods, when inventory has declined in cost, or if inventory has become obsolete.

What Inventory Costing Methods Are Allowed by GAAP?

Along with the LCM method, other inventory costing methods allowed by GAAP are:

  • First in, first out (FIFO)
  • Last in, first out (LIFO)
  • Weighted average valuation

The Bottom Line

The LCM method is a conservative accounting principle used to value a company’s inventory. While the LCM method may result in lower profits and lower taxes, it provides a more accurate picture of a company’s financial health. Companies should carefully consider the LCM method when valuing their inventory to ensure that their financial statements are transparent and accurate.

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