ACCA MA Management Accounting

ABSORPTION COSTING – Explained

ABSORPTION COSTING
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ABSORPTION COSTING – Explained

Absorption costing, also known as full costing, is a managerial accounting technique that involves allocating all costs—both fixed and variable—to products or services. This method provides a more comprehensive understanding of the total cost involved in producing goods or delivering services by incorporating not just the direct costs but also the indirect costs. The primary goal of absorption costing is to aid management in making informed decisions regarding pricing, inventory valuation, cost control, and profitability analysis.

Understanding Absorption Costing

At its core, absorption costing recognizes that the cost of producing goods or delivering services comprises both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are those that can be easily traced to a specific product or service, such as direct materials, direct labor, and direct expenses. Indirect costs, on the other hand, are those that are not directly attributable to a specific product or service but are necessary for the overall operation of the business. Examples of indirect costs include rent, utilities, depreciation, insurance, and supervisory salaries.

By allocating both types of costs to products or services, absorption costing provides a more complete picture of their true economic cost. This information is invaluable to management for several reasons:

Decision-making:

Absorption costing helps managers make informed decisions about pricing strategies, product mix, and make-or-buy choices. By understanding the full cost of producing goods or delivering services, managers can set prices that cover all expenses and ensure profitability.

Inventory Valuation:

Under absorption costing, the value of ending inventory and cost of goods sold (COGS) includes both variable and fixed manufacturing overhead costs. This impacts the valuation of inventory on the balance sheet and the calculation of gross profit on the income statement.

Cost Control:

Absorption costing facilitates cost control by allocating costs to specific products, departments, or activities. This allows managers to identify areas of inefficiency or unnecessary expenses and take corrective actions to improve profitability.

Profitability Analysis:

By allocating all costs to products or services, absorption costing enables managers to analyze the profitability of different product lines, customers, or segments of the business accurately. This information guides strategic decisions and resource allocation.

Key Elements of Absorption Costing

Absorption costing has several critical components that contribute to its effective application:

Direct Materials:

These are the raw materials or components directly used in producing a product. The cost of direct materials is easily traceable to the product and is typically a significant portion of the total product cost.

Direct Labor:

This refers to the labor directly involved in the production process. Like direct materials, direct labor costs are also directly attributable to the product and are usually a variable cost, meaning they change in proportion to the volume of production.

Direct Expenses:

Direct expenses are costs incurred specifically for a particular product or customer. These may include items such as special tooling, setup costs, or customization expenses.

Variable Manufacturing Overhead:

Variable overhead costs are those that fluctuate directly with changes in production volume. Examples include indirect materials, indirect labor, and variable utility costs. These costs are allocated to products based on a logical and consistent basis, such as machine hours or direct labor hours.

Fixed Manufacturing Overhead:

Fixed overhead costs remain relatively constant regardless of production volume. Examples include rent, depreciation of factory equipment, supervisory salaries, and property taxes. These costs are typically allocated to products based on a suitable allocation base, such as machine hours, direct labor dollars, or square footage occupied.

Allocation Bases:

An allocation base is a measure used to assign indirect costs to products or services. Common allocation bases include direct labor hours, machine hours, direct material costs, or sales volume. The choice of allocation base depends on the nature of the business and the behavior of indirect costs.

Inventory Valuation:

In absorption costing, the value of ending inventory and cost of goods sold includes both variable and fixed manufacturing overhead costs. This means that some fixed overhead costs are deferred to the balance sheet as part of inventory valuation and are expensed to the income statement when the inventory is sold.

Application of Absorption Costing

Absorption costing finds application in various aspects of managerial accounting and financial management:

Product Pricing:

Absorption costing helps determine the selling price of products. By allocating all costs, both fixed and variable, to products, managers can set prices that cover total expenses and contribute to the desired profit margin.

Cost-Volume-Profit Analysis:

This analysis examines the relationship between sales volume, costs, and profitability. Absorption costing provides the data necessary to calculate break-even points, target profit levels, and the impact of changes in sales volume on profits.

Inventory Management:

Absorption costing impacts the valuation of inventory. By including fixed overhead costs in inventory valuation, managers can better understand the true economic value of their inventory holdings and make informed decisions about inventory levels, production scheduling, and purchasing.

Performance Evaluation:

Absorption costing is used to evaluate the performance of different segments or divisions within an organization. By allocating all costs to specific products or services, managers can assess the profitability and efficiency of each segment accurately.

Budgeting and Planning:

Absorption costing forms the basis for budgeting and planning activities. By understanding the full cost structure, managers can develop realistic budgets, set appropriate performance targets, and allocate resources effectively.

Decision-making:

Absorption costing provides valuable insights for decision-making. For example, it can help managers decide whether to make or buy a component, outsource a service, discontinue a product line, or expand into new markets.

Advantages of Absorption Costing

Absorption costing offers several benefits that make it a valuable tool for managerial accounting:

Comprehensive Cost Information:

Absorption costing provides a complete view of the total cost involved in producing goods or delivering services. This includes both direct and indirect costs, fixed and variable expenses. This comprehensive information aids in decision-making and strategic planning.

Inventory Valuation:

By including fixed manufacturing overhead costs in inventory valuation, absorption costing ensures that the value of ending inventory reflects all relevant costs. This leads to a more accurate representation of the economic value of inventory on the balance sheet.

Cost Control and Analysis:

Absorption costing facilitates cost control by allocating costs to specific products, activities, or departments. This allocation allows managers to identify areas of inefficiency, unnecessary expenses, or cost drivers that require attention. It also enables accurate profitability analysis at a granular level.

External Reporting:

Absorption costing is often used for external financial reporting purposes. It complies with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in many countries and provides consistency in financial statements for stakeholders, investors, and creditors.

Decision-making Flexibility:

Absorption costing provides a basis for various decision-making scenarios. It helps managers assess the profitability of different products, customers, or markets and guides pricing, product mix, and resource allocation decisions.

Cost Behavior Analysis:

By allocating both fixed and variable costs to products, absorption costing enables managers to analyze cost behavior patterns. This analysis can identify areas where costs can be reduced or optimized and help set appropriate pricing strategies.

Disadvantages of Absorption Costing

Despite its advantages, absorption costing also has certain limitations that practitioners should be aware of:

Complexity:

Absorption costing can be complex to implement, especially in organizations with diverse product lines or complex cost structures. Identifying, collecting, and allocating indirect costs accurately can be challenging and time-consuming.

Arbitrary Allocation Bases:

The allocation of indirect costs to products or services relies on allocation bases that may not always reflect the actual consumption of resources. This can lead to distortions in product cost calculations, especially if the allocation base is not carefully chosen and consistently applied.

Lack of Causality:

Absorption costing assumes that all costs, including fixed overhead, are caused by the production process. However, this may not always be the case. Some fixed costs may be more related to time or organizational structure than to the volume of production. Allocating these costs to products can result in misleading cost information.

Impact on Decision-making:

Absorption costing may not provide the best information for decision-making in certain situations. For example, including fixed overhead costs in inventory valuation can distort the true variable cost of production, leading to suboptimal decisions regarding inventory management and pricing.

Inconsistency with Variable Costing:

Absorption costing yields different inventory values and gross profit figures than variable costing, which excludes fixed overhead costs. This inconsistency can complicate comparisons and make it challenging to assess the profitability of different products or periods accurately.

Incentives for Inefficiency:

In some cases, absorption costing may provide incentives for inefficiency. Since fixed overhead costs are allocated to products regardless of efficiency levels, there may be less incentive to control or reduce these costs.

Best Practices and Recommendations

To maximize the benefits of absorption costing and minimize its limitations, consider the following best practices:

Choose Appropriate Allocation Bases:

Select allocation bases that closely reflect the actual consumption of resources by products or services. This ensures a more accurate allocation of indirect costs and enhances the reliability of product cost information.

Review Allocation Bases Periodically:

Allocation bases should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect changes in the business environment or cost structure. This ensures that the allocation method remains relevant and aligns with the underlying cost drivers.

Understand Cost Behavior:

Develop a deep understanding of the variable and fixed nature of costs within your organization. This knowledge will help you allocate costs more effectively and make better decisions regarding pricing, inventory management, and cost control.

Use Activity-Based Costing (ABC):

Consider implementing activity-based costing, which identifies cost drivers for different activities within the organization. ABC provides a more precise allocation of indirect costs and can lead to more accurate product cost information.

Complement with Variable Costing:

Use variable costing alongside absorption costing to gain a more comprehensive understanding of cost behavior. Variable costing focuses on marginal costs and can provide insights into short-term decision-making, such as pricing and special orders.

Emphasize Cost Control:

Encourage a culture of cost control and efficiency throughout the organization. Provide training and incentives for employees to identify and reduce unnecessary costs, regardless of whether they are fixed or variable.

Regularly Review Costing Data:

Periodically review and analyze costing data to identify trends, anomalies, or areas of concern. This proactive approach enables you to make timely adjustments and optimize the efficiency of your operations.

Conclusion

Absorption costing is a valuable managerial accounting technique that provides a comprehensive view of the total cost involved in producing goods or delivering services. By allocating both fixed and variable costs to products or services, absorption costing aids management in decision-making, inventory valuation, cost control, and profitability analysis. While it has certain limitations, absorption costing remains a widely used approach that provides relevant and actionable cost information.

By following best practices, organizations can leverage absorption costing to make informed strategic decisions, optimize operations, and ultimately enhance profitability. Additionally, by complementing absorption costing with other costing methods, such as variable costing or activity-based costing, managers can gain a more holistic understanding of their cost structure and make even more effective decisions.

Ultimately, absorption costing serves as a powerful tool in the managerial accounting toolkit, enabling businesses to allocate resources efficiently, price products competitively, and drive sustainable success in a dynamic business environment.

SUMMARY:

ABSORPTION COSTING

Method of costing in which overheads are absorbed in relevant cost centers on appropriate rates known as overhead absorption rate (OAR). This rate is calculated on suitable basis like machine hour ,labour hour depending upon nature of activity

 

OAR= total of production overhead / suitable absorption base

 

Blanket Factory OH Rate

OH costs for the entire Factory   Total Output For all Departments in the factory

 

Departmental OH Rate       OH allocated each Department / Output of that Department

UNDER/OVER APPLIED OVERHEADS

OAR is calculated on the basis of budgeted figure. At end of year actual overheads absorbed are different so there rises under/over overhead

 

Actual FOH (Fixed + Variable)                                                        XXX

Applied FOH (Actual capacity attained * FOH Applied Rate)        (XXX)

_______

Under / Over Applied                                                                      XXX