11.5. Puffing Profit by Excessive Production

Whenever production output is higher than sales volume, be on guard. Excessive production can puff up the profit figure. How? Until a product is sold, the product cost goes in the inventory asset account rather than the cost of goods sold expense account, meaning that the product cost is counted as a positive number (an asset) rather than a negative number (an expense). Fixed manufacturing overhead cost is included in product cost, which means that this cost component goes into inventory and is held there until the products are sold later. In short, when you overproduce, more of your total of fixed manufacturing costs for the period is moved to the inventory asset account and less is moved into cost of goods sold expense for the year.

You need to judge whether an inventory increase is justified. Be aware that an unjustified increase may be evidence of profit manipulation or just good old-fashioned management bungling. Either way, the day of reckoning will come when the products are sold and the cost of inventory becomes cost of goods sold expense — at which point the cost impacts the bottom line.

11.5.1. Shifting fixed manufacturing costs to the future

The business represented in Figure 11-1 manufactured 10,000 more units than it sold during the year. With variable manufacturing costs at $410 per unit, the business expended $4.1 million ...

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