1. Money

Minority Interests - The Cost Method, Equity Method, and Consolidated Method

Investing Lesson 4 - Analyzing an Income Statement

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accounting for minority interest

The way a company accounts for investments in other businesses depends on the total percentage of outstanding shares it owns. In some cases, it's possible for millions of dollars in profit not to be reported on the income statement due to the rules!

Minority Interests on the Income Statement
If Federated Department Stores, the owner of Macy's and Bloomingdale, purchased five percent of Saks Fifth Avenue, Inc., common sense tells us that Federated would be entitled to five percent of Saks' earnings. How would Federated report their share of Saks' earnings on their income statement? It depends on the percentage of the company's voting stock Federated owned.

Cost Method (If Federated owned 20% or less)
The company would not be able to report its share of Saks' earnings, except for the dividends it received from the Saks stock. The asset value of the investment would be reported at the lower of cost or market value on the balance sheet. What does that mean?

If Federated purchased 10 million shares of Saks stock at $5 per share for a total cost of $50 million, it would record any dividends received from Saks on its income statement, and add $50 million to the balance sheet under investments. If Saks rose to $10 per share, the 10 million shares would be worth $100 million ($10 per share x 10 million shares = $100 million). The balance sheet would be adjusted to reflect $50 million in unrealized gains, less a deferred tax allowance for the taxes that would be owed if the shares were sold.

On the other hand, if the stock dropped to $2.50 per share, thus reducing the investments to $25 million, the balance sheet value would be written down to reflect the loss with a deferred tax asset established to reflect the deduction that would be available to the company if it were to take the loss by selling the shares.

The point is, the income statement would never show the five percent of Saks' annual profit that belonged to Federated. Only dividends paid on the Saks shares would be shown as dividend income (which is, actually, added to total revenue or sales in most cases). Unless you delved deep into the company's 10K, you may not even realize that the Saks dividend income is included in total revenue as if it were generated from sales at Federated's own stores.

Equity Method (If Federated owned 21-49%)
In most cases, Federated would include a single-entry line on their income statement reporting their share of Saks' earnings. For example, if Saks earned $100 million and Federated owned 30 percent, they would include a line on the income statement for $30 million in income (30% of $100 million), even if these earnings were never paid out as dividends (meaning they never actually saw $30 million).

Consolidated Method (If Federated owned 50+%)
With the consolidated method, Federated would be required to include all of the revenues, expenses, tax liabilities, and profits of Saks on the income statement. It would then include an entry that deducted the percentage of the business it didn't own. If Federated owned 65% of Saks, it would report the entire $100 million in profit, and then include an entry labeled minority interest that deducted the $35 million (35%) of the profits it didn't own.

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This page is part of Investing Lesson 4 - How to Read an Income Statement. To go back to the beginning, see the Table of Contents.

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