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What Is Inventory Valuation? Everything You Should Know in 2024

3 minutes

In this article, we explain what inventory valuation is and why it's important. We also provide a 5-step process on how to value inventory, with examples. Read on to learn more.

what is inventory valuation

What Is Inventory Valuation?

Inventory valuation is the method used to determine the cost of goods sold and the value of the stock on hand. This process is vital for businesses as it affects their financial statements, tax obligations, and profitability analysis. 

Example: ABC Electronics Co. recently bought 1,000 gadgets at $10 each, so their inventory is valued at $10,000. This valuation represents the initial cost and doesn't account for additional expenses such as storage, transportation, or potential market value adjustments.

Why Does Inventory Valuation Matter?

Inventory valuation is crucial for a number of reasons. We have listed some of the most common reasons below:

Financial Reporting: Helps in accurate balance sheet presentation, ensuring stakeholders have a clear understanding of a company's assets and liabilities. 

Tax Implications: Determines the taxable income of a business by impacting the cost of goods sold.

Profit Margin Analysis: Affects the cost of goods sold and thus profit margins, dictating how much profit is made on sales.

Decision Making: Assists in pricing, purchasing, and sales strategies by providing accurate cost data.

Cash Flow Management: Influences inventory purchasing and stock management decisions, impacting how much cash is tied up in stock.

Comparability: Enables businesses to compare financials with industry peers, essential for benchmarking performance.

how to value inventory

How Is Inventory Valued?

Different businesses use various methods to value their inventory. Some of these include:

First-In, First-Out (FIFO)

This method values inventory on the assumption that the earliest purchased items are sold first. FIFO ensures that the remaining inventory is valued at the most recent purchase prices, which can be beneficial in inflationary periods.

Last-In, First-Out (LIFO)

LIFO values inventory under the assumption that the latest purchased items are sold first. For inventory valuation, this means that the remaining stock is valued at the earliest purchase prices, which can be advantageous for tax purposes during inflationary periods as it shows a higher cost of goods sold.

Average Cost Method

This method averages out the costs of all inventory items to determine a consistent cost per item. The average cost method tends to even out price fluctuations and provides a moderate inventory value, especially useful in industries with frequent price variations.

How to Value Inventory: Our 5-Step Process

Valuing inventory is a systematic process essential for accurate financial insights. Here’s our simple step-by-step framework:

Step 1: Identify the Valuation Method

Choose a method like FIFO, LIFO, or Average Cost, tailored to your business and industry needs.

Example: GreenLeaf Bookstore selects the FIFO method, considering the chronological order of their book purchases.

Step 2: List Inventory Items

Catalog every item in your stock to create a foundation for your valuation calculations.

Example: SunBloom Fashion has an inventory listing that includes 200 summer dresses at $30 each.

Step 3: Apply Costs

Assign costs to each item using the previously chosen method, determining the basic inventory value.

Example: TechGiant Electronics uses the LIFO method, valuing their latest batch of 500 smartphones at $200 each, totaling $100,000.

Step 4: Factor in Additional Costs

Incorporate other expenses like shipping, handling, and storage to the basic value for a comprehensive inventory worth.

Example: OceanBlue Seafood incorporates an additional $2,000 for cold storage and transportation for their fresh catches.

Step 5: Adjust for Damages or Obsolescence

Deduct the value of items that are unsellable or obsolete, ensuring your inventory value remains accurate.

Example: CityRide Bicycles discovers 3 of their bikes have manufacturing defects, leading to a $600 reduction in inventory value.

how is inventory valued

Case Study

Stellar Sneakers Co. is a shoe retailer looking to value their inventory for the quarter end. Here’s how they implemented our process:

Step 1: Identify the Valuation Method

Stellar Sneakers Co. analyzes their sales and purchase patterns, deciding that the Average Cost Method best represents their inventory fluctuations over the quarter.

Step 2: List Inventory Items

They undertake a thorough stocktake, finding they have 200 sneakers, each purchased at different times and varying costs due to market changes.

Step 3: Apply Costs

By adding up the total costs of the 200 sneakers and dividing by their quantity, they determine an averaged cost of $30 per sneaker.

Step 4: Factor in Additional Costs

Beyond the basic cost of the sneakers, they recognize added expenses from suppliers for shipping and warehouse storage, which cumulatively amount to $1,000.

Step 5: Adjust for Damages or Obsolescence

Through customer returns, they find 10 sneakers with defects or damages. They account for these as losses, equating to a $300 deduction. Their concluded inventory value stands at $7,000.

Inventory valuation is pivotal for businesses to present accurate financials and make informed decisions. We hope you now have a better understanding of what inventory valuation is and how to value inventory efficiently.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our article on how to write off damaged inventory or our article on what inventory carrying cost is.

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