What is net realizable value?

Definition of Net Realizable Value
Net realizable value (NRV) is the cash amount that a company expects to receive. Hence, net realizable value is sometimes referred to as cash realizable value.

We often find the term net realizable value being associated with the current assets accounts receivable and inventory. While these two assets are initially recorded at cost, there are occasions when the company will collect less than the cost. When that occurs, the company must report the lower of 1) cost, or 2) the net realizable value.

In the case of accounts receivable, net realizable value can also be expressed as the debit balance in the asset account Accounts Receivable minus the credit balance in the contra asset account Allowance for Uncollectible Accounts.

In the context of inventory, net realizable value is the expected selling price in the ordinary course of business minus any costs of completion, disposal, and transportation.

Examples of Net Realizable Value
If Accounts Receivable has a debit balance of $100,000 and the Allowance for Doubtful Accounts has a proper credit balance of $8,000, the resulting net realizable value of the accounts receivable is $92,000. Adjustments to the Allowance account are reported on the income statement as bad debts expense.

Now, let's assume that a company's inventory has a cost of $15,000. However, at the end of the accounting year the inventory can be sold for only $14,000 after it spends $2,000 for packaging, sales commissions, and shipping. Therefore, the net realizable value of the inventory is $12,000 (selling price of $14,000 minus $2,000 of costs to dispose of the goods). In that situation the inventory must be reported at the lower of 1) the cost of $15,000, or 2) the NRV of $12,000. In this situation, the inventory should be reported on the balance sheet at $12,000, and the income statement should report a loss of $3,000 due to the write-down of inventory.

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