Tangible asset: meaning, types and more

Tangible assets play a crucial role in a company’s financial statements and are an essential part of the accounting process. 

In this article, we will explore the meaning of tangible assets and their significance in the world of finance.

What are tangible assets?

Tangible assets refer to physical assets that can be seen, touched, and felt. These assets have a real value and are used to generate revenue for a company. The value of tangible assets can be determined based on their market price or their replacement cost. 

Types of tangible assets and their examples

Tangible assets come in many forms, and it’s important to understand the different types and their examples. The most common tangible assets include property, plant, and equipment (PPE), inventory, and natural resources.

PPE refers to physical assets that a company uses to produce its goods or services. Examples of PPE include buildings, machinery, equipment, vehicles, and furniture. PPE is often the most significant investment a company makes, and it’s crucial to manage and maintain these assets properly to ensure their continued value.

Inventory refers to the goods a company has on hand and intends to sell. Examples of inventory include raw materials, finished goods, and work in progress. Inventory is a crucial part of a company’s operations, and it’s important to manage inventory levels effectively to avoid stockouts and minimize costs.

Natural resources refer to physical assets that a company uses to produce its goods or services, such as oil, gas, minerals, and timber. These assets are finite, and their value can fluctuate based on market conditions.

How tangible assets are valued: market price vs. replacement cost

Tangible assets can be valued using two methods: market price and replacement cost. The market price method values assets based on the price they would fetch in the current market, whereas the replacement cost method values assets based on the cost of replacing them.

The market price method is most commonly used to value assets that have an active market, such as real estate or publicly traded stocks. The market price is determined by supply and demand, and it can fluctuate based on various factors, such as economic conditions or company performance.

The replacement cost method is used to value assets that are unique or have no active market. For example, if a company has a specialized piece of machinery that would be difficult to replace, the replacement cost method would be used to value that asset. This method takes into account the cost of building or acquiring an identical asset.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. The market price method is useful when there is an active market for the asset, but it may not accurately reflect the true value of the asset if market conditions are unstable. The replacement cost method is useful for valuing unique assets, but it may not accurately reflect the asset’s current market value.

The importance of tangible assets in financial statements

Tangible assets are a crucial component of a company’s financial statements. These assets are reported on the balance sheet and can be used to calculate various financial ratios that provide insights into a company’s financial health.

The most important financial ratio that uses tangible assets is the return on assets (ROA) ratio. This ratio measures a company’s ability to generate profits from its assets. It is calculated by dividing net income by total assets. A high ROA indicates that a company is effectively utilizing its assets to generate profits.

Another important ratio that uses tangible assets is the asset turnover ratio. This ratio measures how efficiently a company is using its assets to generate revenue. It is calculated by dividing sales by total assets. A high asset turnover ratio indicates that a company is generating a high level of revenue from its assets.

Tangible assets are also important for determining a company’s financial health in the event of bankruptcy. If a company goes bankrupt, its tangible assets can be sold to pay off its creditors. As such, tangible assets provide a sense of security to investors and creditors.

Tangible assets vs. Intangible assets: key differences

Tangible assets differ from intangible assets in several key ways. While tangible assets are physical assets that can be seen and touched, intangible assets are assets that lack physical substance. Examples of intangible assets include intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights, as well as brand recognition and goodwill.

The valuation of tangible assets is generally more straightforward than intangible assets. Tangible assets can be valued based on their market price or replacement cost, whereas the valuation of intangible assets is often more subjective and difficult to quantify.

Tangible assets also have a shorter lifespan than intangible assets. For example, a company’s machinery or equipment may become obsolete or require replacement after a certain number of years, whereas the value of a company’s brand or intellectual property may continue to appreciate over time.

In terms of financial reporting, tangible assets are reported on a company’s balance sheet, while intangible assets are reported on the balance sheet as well as the income statement. Intangible assets are typically amortized over their useful lives, meaning their value is gradually reduced over time.

Managing tangible assets: best practices

Proper management of tangible assets is crucial to ensure their continued value and maximize their potential contributions to a company’s financial health. Here are some best practices for managing tangible assets:

Regular maintenance: Regular maintenance of assets can help prevent breakdowns and extend their useful life. This can include routine inspections, repairs, and cleaning.

Asset tracking: Keeping track of assets can help ensure they are being used effectively and minimize the risk of loss or theft. Asset tracking can be done manually or through software tools.

Depreciation tracking: Depreciation is the gradual decrease in the value of an asset over time. Tracking depreciation can help companies determine when to replace or upgrade assets.

Asset disposal: When assets are no longer needed, they should be disposed of properly. This can include selling them, donating them, or recycling them.

Insurance coverage: Insuring assets can provide a sense of security in case of damage, loss, or theft.

By implementing these best practices, companies can effectively manage their tangible assets and ensure their continued value and contribution to their financial health.

Conclusion

Tangible assets play a vital role in a company’s financial health. They represent physical assets that can be seen, touched, and felt, and their value can be determined based on market price or replacement cost. Tangible assets provide a sense of security to investors and creditors as they are easier to value and sell in the event of bankruptcy.

As such, understanding the concept of tangible assets and their significance is essential for individuals looking to invest in a company or those seeking to manage their own financial assets.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are tangible assets?

Tangible assets are physical assets that have a measurable value and can be seen or touched, such as property, equipment, and inventory.

How are tangible assets reported in financial statements?

Tangible assets are reported on a company’s balance sheet, and their value is recorded as the cost of acquisition minus depreciation.

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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