Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Direct costs in producing a good or providing a service

What is Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)?

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) measures the “direct cost” incurred in the production of any goods or services. It includes material cost, direct labor cost, and direct factory overheads and is directly proportional to revenue. As revenue increases, more resources are required to produce the goods or service. COGS is often the second line item appearing on the income statement, coming right after sales revenue. COGS is deducted from revenue to find gross profit.


Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) example


Cost of goods sold consists of all the costs associated with producing the goods or providing the services offered by the company. For goods, these costs may include the variable costs involved in manufacturing products, such as raw materials and labor. They may also include fixed costs, such as factory overhead, storage costs and depending on the relevant accounting policies, sometimes depreciation expense.

COGS does not include general selling expenses, such as management salary and advertising expense. These costs will fall below the gross profit line under the selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expense section.


Objective of Cost of Goods Sold

The basic purpose of finding COGS is to calculate the “true cost” of merchandise sold. It doesn’t reflect the cost of goods that are not being sold and just kept in inventory. It helps management monitor the purchase cost and payroll costs.


Accounting for Cost of Goods Sold

IFRS and US GAAP allow different policies for accounting for the cost of goods sold. Very briefly, there are four main types of cost of goods sold classifications.

  1. First-in-first-out (FIFO)
  2. Last-in-first-out (LIFO)
  3. Weighted average
  4. Specific identification

The first two are self-explanatory. Under FIFO, COGS consists of earlier costs, whereas under LIFO, COGS consists of later costs. For example, assume that a company purchased materials to produce four units of their goods. The first three units cost $5 to produce. However, due to rising material prices, the last unit cost $10 to produce. In the subsequent period, the company sells three units. Under FIFO, COGS would consist of the first three units produced, totaling $5 x 3 = $15. Under LIFO, COGS would consist of the last three units produced, totaling $10 x 1 + $5 x 2 = $20.

Under weighted average, the total cost of goods available for sale is divided by units available for sale to find the unit cost of goods available for sale. This is multiplied by the actual number of goods sold to find the cost of goods sold. In the above example, the weighted average per unit is $25 / 4 = $6.25. Thus, for the three units sold, COGS is equal to $18.75.

Specific identification is special in that this is only used by organizations with specifically identifiable inventory. Costs can be directly attributed and are specifically assigned to the specific unit sold. This type of COGS accounting may apply to car manufacturers, real estate developers, and others.

Depending on the COGS classification used, ending inventory costs will differ.


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