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variable costs

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Definition of variable costs

Variable Costs Image 1

variable costs

costs that change as the level of output changes.



Related Terms:

Semi-variable costs

costs that have both fixed and variable components.


break-even chart

a graph that depicts the relationships among revenues, variable costs, fixed costs, and profits (or losses)


Contribution

Also the difference between the selling price and variable costs, which can be expressed either per
unit or in total.


contribution margin

the difference between selling price and
variable cost per unit or in total for the level of activity; it
indicates the amount of each revenue dollar remaining
after variable costs have been covered and going toward
the coverage of fixed costs and the generation of profits


Contribution margin

The margin that results when variable production costs are subtracted
from revenue. It is most useful for making incremental pricing decisions
where a company must cover its variable costs, though perhaps not all of its fixed
costs.



contribution margin ratio

the proportion of each revenue dollar remaining after variable costs have been covered;
computed as contribution margin divided by sales


Cost behaviour

The idea that fixed costs and variable costs react differently to changes in the volume of
products/services produced.


Variable Costs Image 2

cost structure

the relative composition of an organization’s
fixed and variable costs


Optimum selling price

The price at which profit is maximized, which takes into account the cost behaviour of fixed and variable costs and the relationship between price and demand for a product/service.


overhead costs

Overhead generally refers to indirect, in contrast to direct,
costs. Indirect means that a cost cannot be matched or coupled in any
obvious or objective manner with particular products, specific revenue
sources, or a particular organizational unit. Manufacturing overhead
costs are the indirect costs in making products, which are in addition to
the direct costs of raw materials and labor. Manufacturing overhead
costs include both variable costs (electricity, gas, water, etc.), which vary
with total production output, and fixed costs, which do not vary with
increases or decreases in actual production output.


variable cost ratio

the proportion of each revenue dollar
represented by variable costs; computed as variable costs
divided by sales or as (1 - contribution margin ratio)


Agency costs

The incremental costs of having an agent make decisions for a principal.


Avoidable costs

costs that are identifiable with and able to be influenced by decisions made at the business
unit (e.g. division) level.


capitalization of costs

When a cost is recorded originally as an increase
to an asset account, it is said to be capitalized. This means that the outlay
is treated as a capital expenditure, which becomes part of the total
cost basis of the asset. The alternative is to record the cost as an expense
immediately in the period the cost is incurred. Capitalized costs refer
mainly to costs that are recorded in the long-term operating assets of a
business, such as buildings, machines, equipment, tools, and so on.


Carring costs

costs that increase with increases in the level of investment in current assets.


carrying costs

costs of maintaining current assets, including opportunity cost of capital.


Variable Costs Image 3

Continuous random variable

A random value that can take any fractional value within specified ranges, as
contrasted with a discrete variable.


Costs Capitalized in Stealth

A particularly egregious form of aggressive cost capitalization
where inappropriately capitalized costs are hidden within other unrelated account balances.



costs of financial distress

costs arising from bankruptcy or distorted business decisions before bankruptcy.


decision variable

an unknown item for which a linear programming
problem is being solved


dependent variable

an unknown variable that is to be predicted
using one or more independent variables


Direct costs

costs that are readily traceable to particular products or services.


Discrete random variable

A random variable that can take only a certain specified set of discrete possible
values - for example, the positive integers 1, 2, 3, . . .


Endogenous variable

A value determined within the context of a model.


Execution costs

The difference between the execution price of a security and the price that would have
existed in the absence of a trade, which can be further divided into market impact costs and market timing
costs.


Exogenous variable

A variable whose value is determined outside the model in which it is used. Also called
a parameter.


Financial distress costs

Legal and administrative costs of liquidation or reorganization. Also includes
implied costs associated with impaired ability to do business (indirect costs).


Fixed costs

costs that do not change with increases or decreases in the volume of goods or services
produced, within the relevant range.



fixed costs

costs that do not depend on the level of output.


fixed expenses (costs)

Expenses or costs that remain the same in amount,
or fixed, over the short run and do not vary with changes in sales volume
or sales revenue or other measures of business activity. Over the
longer run, however, these costs increase or decrease as the business
grows or declines. Fixed operating costs provide capacity to carry on
operations and make sales. Fixed manufacturing overhead costs provide
production capacity. Fixed expenses are a key pivot point for the analysis
of profit behavior, especially for determining the breakeven point and for
analyzing strategies to improve profit performance.


Friction costs

costs, both implied and direct, associated with a transaction. Such costs include time, effort,
money, and associated tax effects of gathering information and making a transaction.


Funding Costs

The price of obtaining capital, either borrowed or equity, with intent to carry on business operations.


Incremental costs and benefits

costs and benefits that would occur if a particular course of action were
taken compared to those that would occur if that course of action were not taken.


independent variable

a variable that, when changed, will
cause consistent, observable changes in another variable;
a variable used as the basis of predicting the value of a
dependent variable


Indirect costs

costs that are necessary to produce a product/service but are not readily traceable to particular products or services – see overhead.


Information costs

Transaction costs that include the assessment of the investment merits of a financial asset.
Related: search costs.


key variable

a critical factor that management believes will
be a direct cause of the achievement or nonachievement
of the organizational goals and objectives


Market impact costs

Also called price impact costs, the result of a bid/ask spread and a dealer's price concession.


Market timing costs

costs that arise from price movement of the stock during the time of the transaction
which is attributed to other activity in the stock.


Menu Costs

The costs to firms of changing their prices.


Normal random variable

A random variable that has a normal probability distribution.


Opportunity costs

The difference in the performance of an actual investment and a desired investment
adjusted for fixed costs and execution costs. The performance differential is a consequence of not being able
to implement all desired trades. Most valuable alternative that is given up.


Period costs

The costs that relate to a period of time.


Policy Acquisition Costs

costs incurred by insurance companies in signing new policies, including expenditures on commissions and other selling expenses, promotion expenses, premium
taxes, and certain underwriting expenses. Refer also to customer, member, or subscriber
acquisition costs.


Political Costs

The costs of additional regulation, including higher taxes, borne by large and
high-profile firms.


Preopening Costs

A form of start-up cost incurred in preparing for the opening of a new store or facility.


Price impact costs

Related: market impact costs


Random variable

A function that assigns a real number to each and every possible outcome of a random experiment.


Round-trip transactions costs

costs of completing a transaction, including commissions, market impact
costs, and taxes.


Search costs

costs associated with locating a counterparty to a trade, including explicit costs (such as
advertising) and implicit costs (such as the value of time). Related:information costs.


Semi-fixed costs

costs that are constant within a defined level of activity but that can increase or decrease when
activity reaches upper and lower levels.


shortage costs

costs incurred from shortages in current assets.


slack variable

a variable used in a linear programming problem
that represents the unused amount of a resource at
any level of operation; it is associated with less-than-orequal-
to constraints


Standard costs

A budget cost for materials and labour used for decision-making, usually expressed as a per unit cost that is applied to standard quantities from a bill of materials and to standard times from a
routing.


Start-up Costs

costs related to such onetime activities as opening a new facility, introducing
a new product or service, commencing activities in a new territory, pursuing a new class of customer,
or initiating a new process in an existing or new facility.


Sunk costs

costs that have been incurred and cannot be reversed.


Sunk costs

costs that have been incurred in the past.


sunk costs

costs that have been incurred and cannot be recovered.


surplus variable

a variable used in a linear programming problem that represents overachievement of a minimum requirement; it is associated with greater-than-or-equal-to constraints


Trading costs

costs of buying and selling marketable securities and borrowing. Trading costs include
commissions, slippage, and the bid/ask spread. See: transaction costs.


Transactions costs

The time, effort, and money necessary, including such things as commission fees and the
cost of physically moving the asset from seller to buyer. Related: Round-trip transaction costs, Information
costs, search costs.


Undepreciated Capital Costs

The tax definition of the value of an asset that is eligible for tax deprecation.


Variable

A value determined within the context of a model. Also called endogenous variable.


Variable annuities

Annuity contracts in which the issuer pays a periodic amount linked to the investment
performance of an underlying portfolio.


Variable Annuity

A form of annuity policy under which the amount of each benefit is not guaranteed or specified. The amounts fluctuate according to the earnings of a separate investment account.


Variable cost

A cost that is directly proportional to the volume of output produced. When production is zero,
the variable cost is equal to zero.


Variable cost

A cost that increases or decreases in proportion with increases or decreases in the volume of production of goods or services.


variable cost

a cost that varies in total in direct proportion
to changes in activity; it is constant on a per unit basis


Variable cost

A cost that changes in amount in relation to changes in a related activity.
Variance
The difference between an actual measured result and a basis, such as a budgeted amount.


Variable costing

A method of costing in which only variable production costs are treated as product costs and in which all fixed (production and non-production) costs are treated as period costs.


variable costing

a cost accumulation and reporting method
that includes only variable production costs (direct material,
direct labor, and variable overhead) as inventoriable
or product costs; it treats fixed overhead as a period cost;
is not acceptable for external reporting and tax returns


VARIABLE EXPENSES

Those that vary with the amount of goods you produce or sell. These may include utility bills, labor, etc.


variable expenses

Expenses that change with changes in either sales volume
or sales revenue, in contrast to fixed expenses that remain the same
over the short run and do not fluctuate in response to changes in sales
volume or sales revenue. See also revenue-driven expenses and unitdriven
expenses.


Variable life insurance policy

A whole life insurance policy that provides a death benefit dependent on the
insured's portfolio market value at the time of death. Typically the company invests premiums in common
stocks, and hence variable life policies are referred to as equity-linked policies.


variable overhead efficiency variance

the difference between budgeted variable overhead based on actual input activity and variable overhead applied to production


variable overhead spending variance

the difference between total actual variable overhead and the budgeted amount of variable overhead based on actual input activity


Variable price security

A security, such as stocks or bonds, that sells at a fluctuating, market-determined price.


Variable rate CDs

Short-term certificate of deposits that pay interest periodically on roll dates. On each roll
date, the coupon on the CD is adjusted to reflect current market rates.


Variable rate loan

Loan made at an interest rate that fluctuates based on a base interest rate such as the
Prime Rate or LIBOR.


Variable rated demand bond (VRDB)

Floating rate bond that can be sold back periodically to the issuer.


Absorption costing

A method of costing in which all fixed and variable production costs are charged to products or services using an allocation base.


absorption costing

a cost accumulation and reporting
method that treats the costs of all manufacturing components
(direct material, direct labor, variable overhead, and
fixed overhead) as inventoriable or product costs; it is the
traditional approach to product costing; it must be used for
external financial statements and tax returns


Break-Even Analysis

An analytical technique for studying the relationships between fixed cost, variable cost, and profits. A breakeven chart graphically depicts the nature of breakeven analysis. The breakeven point represents the volume of sales at which total costs equal total revenues (that is, profits equal zero).


cost containment

the practice of minimizing, to the extent
possible, period-by-period increases in per-unit variable
and total fixed costs


Direct materials mix variance

The variance between the budgeted and actual mixes of
direct materials costs, both using the actual total quantity used. This variance isolates
the unit cost of each item, excluding all other variables.


Long run

A period of time in which all costs are variable; greater than one year.
Long straddle A straddle in which a long position is taken in both a put and call option.


Long run

A period of time in which all costs are variable; greater than one year.


operating leverage

the proportionate relationship between
a company’s variable and fixed costs


scattergraph

a graph that plots all known activity observations
and the associated costs; it is used to separate mixed
costs into their variable and fixed components and to examine
patterns reflected by the plotted observations



 

 

 

 

 

 

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