Saturday, January 23, 2010

Theory of Marginal Costing

The theory of marginal costing as set out in “A report on Marginal Costing” published by CIMA, London is as follows:
In relation to a given volume of output, additional output can normally be obtained at less than proportionate cost because within limits, the aggregate of certain items of cost will tend to remain fixed and only the aggregate of the remainder will tend to rise proportionately with an increase in output. Conversely, a decrease in the volume of output will normally be accompanied by less than proportionate fall in the aggregate cost.
The theory of marginal costing may, therefore, by understood in the following two steps:

  1. If the volume of output increases, the cost per unit in normal circumstances reduces. Conversely, if an output reduces, the cost per unit increases. If a factory produces 1000 units at a total cost of $3,000 and if by increasing the output by one unit the cost goes up to $3,002, the marginal cost of additional output will be $.2.
  2. If an increase in output is more than one, the total increase in cost divided by the total increase in output will give the average marginal cost per unit. If, for example, the output is increased to 1020 units from 1000 units and the total cost to produce these units is $1,045, the average marginal cost per unit is $2.25. It can be described as follows:
Additional cost =
Additional units

$ 45 = $2.25
The ascertainment of marginal cost is based on the classification and segregation of cost into fixed and variable cost. In order to understand the marginal costing technique, it is essential to understand the meaning of marginal cost.
Marginal cost means the cost of the marginal or last unit produced. It is also defined as the cost of one more or one less unit produced besides existing level of production. In this connection, a unit may mean a single commodity, a dozen, a gross or any other measure of goods.
For example, if a manufacturing firm produces X unit at a cost of $ 300 and X+1 units at a cost of $ 320, the cost of an additional unit will be $ 20 which is marginal cost. Similarly if the production of X-1 units comes down to $ 280, the cost of marginal unit will be $ 20 (300–280).
The marginal cost varies directly with the volume of production and marginal cost per unit remains the same. It consists of prime cost, i.e. cost of direct materials, direct labor and all variable overheads. It does not contain any element of fixed cost which is kept separate under marginal cost technique.
Marginal costing may be defined as the technique of presenting cost data wherein variable costs and fixed costs are shown separately for managerial decision-making. It should be clearly understood that marginal costing is not a method of costing like process costing or job costing. Rather it is simply a method or technique of the analysis of cost information for the guidance of management which tries to find out an effect on profit due to changes in the volume of output.
There are different phrases being used for this technique of costing. In UK, marginal costing is a popular phrase whereas in US, it is known as direct costing and is used in place of marginal costing. Variable costing is another name of marginal costing.
Marginal costing technique has given birth to a very useful concept of contribution where contribution is given by: Sales revenue less variable cost (marginal cost)
Contribution may be defined as the profit before the recovery of fixed costs. Thus, contribution goes toward the recovery of fixed cost and profit, and is equal to fixed cost plus profit (C = F + P).
In case a firm neither makes profit nor suffers loss, contribution will be just equal to fixed cost (C = F). this is known as break even point.
The concept of contribution is very useful in marginal costing. It has a fixed relation with sales. The proportion of contribution to sales is known as P/V ratio which remains the same under given conditions of production and sales.

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