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What is Net Realizable Value?

What is Net Realizable Value?

Net Realizable Value Definition

Net Realizable Value (or net realisable value) is a financial accounting principle in inventory and accounts receivable. It represents the goods and services' estimated selling price minus estimated completion, transportation, and disposal cost.

NRV is an important generally accepted accounting principle (GAAP) for ensuring assets are not overstated on the balance sheet

According to the conservatism principle in cost accounting, assets should be recorded at a lower cost or net realizable value. If an asset's NRV is lower than its estimated cost, the asset value must be written to reflect losses.

NRV is relevant for businesses with inventory that is subject to spoilage, obsolescence, or changes in fair market value. 

Net realizable value provides reasonable assurance to stakeholders by estimating the inventory selling price minus any associated costs, improving financial reporting accuracy. It's also used to evaluate accounts receivable collections.

Lower Cost and Market Method

The Lower Cost and Market Method (LCM) and net realizable value are two important concepts used in accounting to evaluate inventory. 

These ensure that the inventory is not reported at an amount more significant than the company expects to earn by selling it. 

The lower cost and market method compares the original inventory cost with its current market value. The vital action here is the comparison. You take the inventory cost and compare it with the market price. 

If the market price is below the cost, then report the inventory at this lower market price. 

This method ensures that if the inventory's present value goes down, the financial statements reflect it. 

Net Realizable Value Formula

The formula for calculating net realizable value is straightforward. It is given by:

NRV = Estimated Selling Price − (Costs of Completion + Costs of Disposal and Transportation)

  • Estimated Selling Price: This is the amount you expect to receive from selling the asset. It should be based on current market conditions.
  • Selling Cost: You'll incur these costs to prepare the asset for sale. For instance, if it's inventory, this could include costs for final manufacturing steps, labor, or additional materials.
  • Disposal and Transportation Costs: These include all the costs associated with selling and delivering the asset to the customer, such as shipping, handling, and any sales commissions.

Using this formula, you can estimate the ending inventory from an asset sale after accounting for selling costs. This calculation is vital in financial reporting to ensure that assets are not overstated on the balance sheet.

Net Realizable Value Example

Let's consider a simple example of how NRV is calculated for inventory.

Scenario: Dell Inc produces laptops. 

Because of a market trend change, the selling price of their laptops have dropped. The company needs to calculate the NRV for a batch of these laptops.


  • The company has 100 laptops in stock.
  • The estimated selling price per laptop is now $150.
  • Completing each laptop (like finishing touches) costs $10.
  • Packaging and transporting each laptop are estimated at $5 per laptop.


Total Estimated Selling Price:

  • $150 per laptop × 100 laptops = $15,000

Total Completion Costs:

  • $10 per laptop × 100 laptops = $1,000

Total Disposal Costs and Transportation:

  • $5 per laptop × 100 laptops = $500

Net Realizable Value:

  • NRV = Total Estimated Selling Price - (Total Costs to Complete + Total Disposal Costs and Transportation)
  • NRV = $15,000 - ($1,000 + $500)
  • NRV = $15,000 - $1,500
  • NRV = $13,500

So, the Net Realizable Value of the laptop inventory is $13,500. This is the amount the company expects to realize from selling these laptops after accounting for additional costs. This value would be used in a financial statement to report the inventory value.

Net Realizable Value Uses

  • Determining the inventory fair value: Accountants use NRV to calculate the inventory worth, subtracting the completion cost and selling expenses from the selling price.
  • Guiding pricing decisions: Businesses apply NRV to make informed decisions on product pricing, ensuring prices cover costs and expenses.
  • Assessing asset impairment: NRV helps evaluate whether assets have lost value, guiding decisions on asset impairment or write-downs.
  • Financial reporting accuracy: Companies rely on NRV for accurate financial reporting, ensuring assets are not overstated on the balance sheet.
  • Compliance with accounting standards: NRV is essential for compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
  • Managing write-offs: NRV aids in determining the amount to write off for inventory that cannot be sold at a profit.
  • Evaluating profitability: By calculating NRV, businesses can assess the profitability of their products or inventory value.
  • Making inventory adjustments: NRV adjusts the asset value on the balance sheet to reflect the realizable value.
  • Conducting cost analysis: It helps perform cost analyses, especially for determining the lower cost or inventory market value.
  • Supporting audit processes: Auditors use NRV to verify the inventory valuation accuracy and compliance with accounting standards.
  • Estimating collectible amounts: NRV is crucial for estimating the accounts receivable amount a company can realistically expect to collect, factoring in potential defaults or non-payments.
  • Adjusting accounts receivable balance: NRV is used to adjust the accounts receivable balance on the balance sheet to reflect a more accurate value that can be realized by estimating doubtful accounts.
  • Joint cost: Net realizable value is used to assess the final value of products after allocating common costs, ensuring that the valuation reflects the estimated selling price minus the completion costs and disposal.
  • Replacement Cost: Net realizable value helps determine the lower cost or market for inventory valuation by comparing the estimated selling price minus disposal costs against the inventory's replacement cost.

Note: In inventory accounting, NRV ensures the reported inventory value is not overstated by reflecting the estimated selling price minus any costs to sell or prepare the inventory.

Benefits of NRV Calculation 

Calculating net realizable value offers several benefits, particularly in financial reporting and management decision-making. It is a key metric for risk professionals such as a chartered financial analyst, by enabling them to assess potential inventory losses and mitigate financial risks effectively.

  • Accurate Asset Valuation: NRV analysis helps ensure that assets like inventory account and accounts receivable are reported at actual value on the balance sheet. This is crucial for stakeholders like investors, creditors, and analysts who rely on financial statements such as the income statement.
  • Compliance with Accounting Standards: Many accounting frameworks, such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards, require that inventory item and other assets be reported at a lower cost or NRV. 
  • Risk Management: By regularly calculating NRV, a company can identify and manage financial risks related to obsolete inventory, price declines, or excess costs. This approach can lead to better inventory management and reduced losses from unsellable or devalued stock.
  • Improved Inventory Management: Understanding the NRV of inventory can inform decisions about production, pricing, and sales strategies. It can help a company decide whether to discount, continue producing, or discontinue certain products.
  • Better Financial Planning and Analysis: NRV provides valuable insights into cash flow and financial planning and analysis. It helps in cash flow management, cash flow forecasting, evaluating product profitability, and making budgetary decisions.
  • Enhanced Credibility and Transparency: Accurate reporting of asset values enhances the credibility of a company's financial statements. This transparency can build trust among investors, lenders, and other stakeholders.
  • Loss Recognition: If an asset's NRV is lower than its cost, recognizing this loss immediately helps reflect the company's financial position more accurately. This early recognition can prevent sudden and unexpected losses in future economic periods.
  • Decision Making for Receivables: When applied to accounts receivable, NRV aids in assessing the amounts collectability. This can lead to more effective net terms, credit policies, and accounts receivable management.
  • Strategic Business Decisions: Information on NRV can inform broader business strategies, including product development, market positioning, and competitive tactics. It helps understand the profitability and segment visibility. 

Note: Net realizable value is crucial in supplier management since it influences decisions regarding inventory purchases and supplier terms negotiation.

Net Realizable Value Challenges

  • Selling Price Estimation: Determining the expected selling price involves forecasting future market conditions, which can be uncertain. A market price can fluctuate because consumer demand changes, economic conditions, competition, or technological advancements. These changes make it difficult to predict the selling price.
  • Cost Assessment: Estimating the completion, disposal, and transportation costs also involves some uncertainty. Costs can vary due to material price, labor cost, or overhead changes, and external factors like shipping rates and tariffs. Accurately forecasting these costs can be challenging, especially over extended periods.
  • Obsolete or Slow-Moving Inventory Valuation: For items that are obsolete, slow-moving, or otherwise impaired, estimating a realistic selling price can be complex. Such items must be discounted heavily to sell, or they will not have a market at all.
  • Subjectivity and Judgment: NRV calculation requires significant judgment and subjectivity, especially in the absence of active markets for goods or services. This leads to inconsistencies and a lack of comparability between companies.
  • Regulatory and Compliance Issues: Ensuring compliance with accounting standards and regulations is crucial. Different accounting frameworks will have varying requirements regarding the calculation and NRV reporting, which can complicate the process for companies operating in multiple jurisdictions or under different accounting standards.
  • Revaluation Frequency: Market conditions and costs can change frequently, requiring a regular NRV assessment. This can be resource-intensive and requires systems to track and update values regularly.
  • Impact on Financial Statements: Incorrect NRV estimation can significantly affect the financial statements, leading to inventory and receivables overvaluation or undervaluation. This can affect profitability, asset valuation, and critical financial KPIs, potentially misleading stakeholders.
  • Inventory Diversity: For businesses with a wide range of products, each with different costs and market conditions, calculating NRV can be complex and time-consuming. Unique items can require individual assessment, adding to the workload.


What is an example of net realizable value?

For example, if a company estimates it can sell a product for $100 but it costs $20 to manufacture and distribute, the net realizable value would be $80.

What is the meaning of realizable value?

The asset realizable value refers to the amount it can be sold for under current market conditions, minus any selling expenses.

What is net realizable value and fair value?

Net realizable value is the asset's estimated selling price minus the costs for sale. Fair value is the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date.

What is accounting conservatism?

Accounting conservatism is a principle where uncertainties and potential losses are recognized immediately, but gains are only recognized when certain.

Is net realizable value the same as selling price?

No, net realizable value is not always the same as the selling price because it considers the selling price minus any associated costs to make the sale.

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