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Manufacturer’s Reporting of Abnormal Excess Capacity Costs: Evidence from COVID-19 Disruption and Suggestions for the Future

Journal of Accounting, Ethics and Public Policy . October 25, 2022

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This study examines if, and how, manufacturing companies reported “abnormal excess capacity costs”, as required by SFAS 151, in 10-Ks for 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2020 and 2019, 1,256 manufacturing companies in the COMPUSTAT database contained data on inventory, cost of goods sold, and sales. Disclosure related to SFAS 151 adjustments in the midst of the COVID-19 economic slowdown was clearly lacking, with only eight companies disclosing the dollar amount of their adjustments in their 10-Ks. Thus, financial statements and10-Ks provided little information beyond what was disclosed prior to adoption of SFAS 151. Regulatory entities should require more direct disclosure by manufacturers about “abnormal excess capacity” costs, and SFAS 151 adjustments during economic downturns. We recommend that during periods of significant economic downturns, all manufacturing companies be required to disclose and explain their SFAS 151 adjustment decisions in the notes to their financial statements.