Measuring and Reporting Inventories

Read this chapter. For many organizations, inventory represents a large portion of their assets, so it is important to be familiar with measurement and reporting techniques. Inventory is a major cost for many businesses, and a big source of potential opportunity for firms looking to improve their financial results.

Choosing an accounting career

Chapter 7 discusses how companies have a choice in inventory cost methods between specific identification, FIFO, LIFO, and weighted-average. Similarly, one of the greatest benefits of obtaining an accounting degree is the broad range of career choices available. There are over 40 different types of accounting jobs available in public accounting, private industry, and governmental accounting. 

One of the primary reasons many students go into accounting is successful job placement. Accounting majors have been better able to find positions than majors in any of the other business options, with the possible exception of management information systems (MIS). Even the relative demand for MIS majors has diminished recently, while the demand for accounting majors remains strong. We are currently experiencing a shortage of accounting majors across the nation. Another important factor to keep in mind regarding job placement is where you would like to be three to five years from now. Accounting offers an excellent foundation with opportunities for advancement, whereby many accounting graduates make double their entry-level salary in only five years.

Many students pursue an accounting degree because it does not restrict their career opportunities as much as having a different business degree. For example, with an accounting degree, a student can apply for positions in management, marketing, and finance, as well as accounting. In fact, many recruiters in business favor accounting graduates because they recognize an accounting degree as a more difficult business degree to obtain. However, management, marketing, and finance students cannot apply for accounting positions because they lack necessary accounting coursework. In fact, with some additional courses in systems, an accounting major is well equipped to pursue a career in any business field including information systems.

Have you ever taken advantage of a pre-inventory sale at your favorite retail store? Many stores offer bargain prices to reduce the merchandise on hand and to minimize the time and expense of taking the inventory. A smaller inventory also enhances the probability of taking an accurate inventory since the store has less merchandise to count. From Chapter 6 you know that companies use inventory amounts to determine the cost of goods sold; this major expense affects a merchandising company's net income. In this chapter, you learn how important inventories are in preparing an accurate income statement, statement of retained earnings, and balance sheet.

This chapter discusses merchandise inventory carried by merchandising retailers and wholesalers. Merchandise inventory is the quantity of goods held by a merchandising company for resale to customers. Merchandising companies determine the quantity of inventory items by a physical count.

The merchandise inventory figure used by accountants depends on the quantity of inventory items and the cost of the items. This chapter discusses four accepted methods of costing the items: (1) specific identification; (2) first-in, first-out (FIFO); (3) last-in, first-out (LIFO); and (4) weighted average. Each method has advantages and disadvantages.

This chapter stresses the importance of having accurate inventory figures and the serious consequences of using inaccurate inventory figures. When you finish this chapter, you should understand how taking inventory connects with the cost of goods sold figure on the store's income statement, the retained earnings amount on the statement of retained earnings, and both the inventory figure and the retained earnings amount on the store's balance sheet.