Net Realizable Value of Inventory: Definition & Method

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebekiah Hill

Rebekiah has taught college accounting and has a master's in both management and business.

Calculating inventory value is essential for correct reporting in accounting records. In this lesson, we are going to discuss what net realizable value is and why it plays an important role in inventory valuation.

NRV Defined

Bo owns a retail store that caters to hunters and fisherman. He always tries to keep the store stocked with the most up-to-date hunting and fishing equipment that there is out there. Running out of something just isn't an option in his book. That idea may be a good thing, but in the end, it also means that he carries quite a bit of inventory that must be valued at the end of an accounting period.

Do you know how inventory is valued? It may surprise you to know that it isn't valued at the wholesale or retail cost. It's valued based on something called the net realizable value. The net realizable value, also known as NRV, is the return that you would expect to get on an item after the item has been sold and the cost of selling that item has been subtracted.

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  • 0:01 NRV Defined
  • 0:54 NRV Calculated
  • 2:49 Importance of NRV
  • 7:09 Lesson Summary
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NRV Calculated

Calculating NRV is fairly simple. You simply take the selling price of an item and you subtract any costs that you incurred getting that item ready for sale. So, let's look at an example:

Bo has deep sea fishing rods that he plans to sell for $120. It is going to cost him $4 to package the rods to get them ready to be sold. Since NRV = selling price - selling cost, then NRV = $120 - $4. So, the NRV of the deep sea fishing rods is $116.

One very important thing that you must realize at this point, though, is that NRV and profit are not the same. We have already said that NRV is the selling price of an item minus any costs associated with selling that item. Profit is the amount of money that is made in excess of the purchase cost of an item. Do you see the difference? The NRV is based on selling price and profit is based on purchase price.

So, let's look at another example to clarify this concept.

I have a car lot. I purchased a car for $12,000 and plan to resell that car for $16,000. It's going to cost me $250 to get the car ready for sale, and the commission that the employee who sells the car will make is $400. So, what is the NRV of this car?

To answer this question, I need to know two things: the selling price and selling cost. The selling price is $16,000. The costs that are associated with the sale are $250 + $400, which equals $650. Now, I need to subtract the costs from the sales price. So, $16,000 - $650 = $15,350.

Importance of NRV

Now that you know what NRV is and how to calculate it, let's talk about why it's so important. Any business that carries any kind of inventory has to value that inventory. The manner in which inventory is valued is specified by generally accepted accounting principles, which are also known as GAAP. GAAP are the guidelines for financial reporting and recording, and they're established by the Financial Accounting Standards Board.

GAAP requires that inventory be valued at the lower of cost or market. The lower of cost or market (LCM) means that inventory is valued at the lower of the total cost of purchasing the material or the current market replacement cost. As the definition states, cost is the total price of purchasing an item. Market is the replacement cost.

So, here is where the NRV comes into play. When determining the market price for LCM, there are certain restrictions that apply. The market price can't be higher than the market ceiling nor lower than the market floor. The market ceiling of a product is the NRV. The market floor is the NRV minus the normal profit that is expected to be received from the sale of the inventory item. So, if the market price of an item falls between these two figures, then it is deemed an acceptable price. If the market price is above the ceiling, then the price to be used for the LCM comparison is the NRV. If the market price is below the NRV, then the market floor is the price used for the comparison.

I know that's a lot of information to try to absorb, so we're gonna use an example to help you out.

Look back at Bo and the deep sea fishing rod and reels. The rod and reels cost Bo a total of $78 each. But he sells those for $120 each. The total profit that Bo expects to make off of each rod and reel is $42. The current market replacement cost for the rod and reels is $118. The NRV of the rods and reels is $116. What are the prices that Bo will use when trying to decide the lower of cost or market?

First, we know that the price that is associated with cost will be $78. The current market price is $118. However, is this the market price that should be used for comparison? At this point, we don't know. We are going to have to figure the market ceiling and market floor. The market ceiling is the same as the NRV, which is $116. The market floor is the NRV minus expected profit. So, to figure that, we would take the NRV of $116 and subtract the $42 that Bo expects to make off of each rod and reel. That makes the market floor be equal to $74.00.

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