As a business owner, your company’s financial statements play a significant role in monitoring your company’s performance and financial standing. However, the information presented in financial statements is susceptible to distortion when certain economic factors come into play — notably inflation.
The cumulative impact of a global pandemic, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions have merged to create the highest inflation rates the United States has seen this century. In fact, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 7.9% between February 2021 and February 2022, representing the most significant annualized growth in CPI inflation since 1982.
While the tangible effects of inflation vary by company and industry, the national and global implications are widespread and generally impact at least some aspects of every business. Even if the obvious effects feel minimal, it’s essential to understand inflation often trickles down to affect the most basic accounting and financial reporting information.
Here are some common ways inflation can affect financial statements and paint a misleading picture of your business.
Inflation can most heavily affect companies’ reported profits with considerable inventories when it comes to financial reporting. Imagine, for example; a widget company reported $100,000 in sales last year with $75,000 in cost of goods sold and a gross profit of $25,000. Since widgets do not expire, the company keeps and sells unsold inventory year after year.
The company sells the same number of widgets the following year, but because of a rising inflation rate, it decides to raise its prices by 5% to offset a 5% increase in its costs of goods. Half of its sales this year were taken from the prior year’s inventory, and the other half comprised the new inventory carrying the 5% production increase.
Because of its 5% increase in both cost of goods sold and widget sales price, the company reports $105,000 in sales and $76,875 in cost of goods sold, totaling $3,750 in gross profits. When you factor in half of the previous year’s inventory, the company still reports an increase of $1,875 in gross profits (because of selling last year’s inventory) even though it sold the same number of widgets as the previous year.
This is called “inflation profit,” meaning the increased profit results from inflation rather than an actual improvement in business performance.
For businesses looking to impress investors or potential purchasers, this is just one example of how inflation could distort financial planning efforts if not properly recognized and considered.
Supply Chain Disruptions
Many businesses rely on a complex network of supply chains to manufacture and deliver goods. These systems become particularly volatile when one or more parts of that supply chain begin raising prices because of factors such as labor shortages, freight costs, increased employee wages, and material costs.
When companies have existing long-term revenue contracts with customers, it may be difficult (or even impossible) to break those contracts and raise prices enough to offset any increase in production costs.
Therefore, companies should consider the monthly implications caused by reduced or negative profitability and the period in which to record the loss, if applicable. Business owners should also be conscientious of the repercussions lost contracts and unstable profits may have on monthly planning and forecasting.
Despite its increased prevalence this past year, inflation always impacts reporting and accounting. Although generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) largely combat the most glaring discrepancies among financial statements, some variations may still occur based on how your particular business accounts for inflation.
Contact our team today if you need help accommodating inflation into your financial statement preparation, reporting, and analysis.