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How can I determine the inventory methods used by other companies in my industry?

Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of Inventory Methods

Inventory methods refers to the order or manner in which a company moves its actual costs out of the current asset inventory and to the cost of goods sold, which is reported on its income statement.

Since the costs of products may be higher when they are reordered/purchased, the order in which their costs are removed from inventory will have an impact on the inventory valuation and the amount reported as the cost of goods sold (and therefore the gross profit, operating income, net income).

The order in which the costs are removed from inventory is referred to as the cost flow assumption. It is important to understand that the cost flow does not have to agree with the order in which the goods are physically removed from inventory.

Examples of Inventory Methods

The following are only a few of the many cost flow assumptions used for valuing inventory:

  • Form 10-K. The Summary is likely the first or second item in the Notes to the Financial Statements.

    Most publicly traded corporations have an Investors Relations link on their website’s home page. On the Investors Relations page you will find a link to the corporation’s annual SEC filings.

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About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has
worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on

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