PP&E (Property, Plant and Equipment)

These are assets that cannot easily be converted into cash and are displayed on a company's balance sheet.

A business's vital long-term assets are property, plant, and equipment (PP&E). These tangible assets are essential to a business's operations and financial health. But unfortunately, these are assets that cannot easily be converted into cash and are displayed on a company's balance sheet.

Property, Plant and Equipment

These assets are usually very illiquid. Of course, a company can sell its equipment, but that is more difficult than selling its inventory or investments. 

A few examples include:

  • Machinery
  • Buildings (e.g., factories)
  • Vehicles

All these assets are used to generate revenues and profits for a company. 

When a company's management team purchases PP&E, it signifies that the team predicts long-term growth and profitability for the company. 

It is helpful for investment analysts and accountants when evaluating a company's financial health and how efficiently and effectively it utilizes its funds. 

Analyzing a company's PP&E is especially useful when planning its capital expenditures. On the balance sheet, the PP&E account is typically denoted as a company's net accumulation of depreciation. 

This means that if a company's capital expenditures are zero (i.e., it does not purchase any new equipment), its Net PP&E can be expected to decrease each year gradually as a result of depreciation. 

Understanding property, plant, and equipment

The value varies significantly between firms. For instance, an automobile company will likely have a much higher balance than a technology company. 


A company's PP&E includes all of its fixed, long-term assets that are tangible, traceable, and predicted to produce economic returns for the business for more than one year or more than one operating cycle

After their useful life has expired, the value of PP&E assets is called scrap value or salvage value. Out of all the assets that make up PP&E, the land is the only one that does not depreciate over time. 

It is important to note that if there is a company that produces and sells machinery, that machinery is not included in its PP&E balance. Instead, it is classified as inventory. Also, real estate companies sell properties that are not property, plants, and equipment but inventory. 

PP&E and noncurrent assets

An important distinction is that while property, plant, and equipment are noncurrent, long-term assets, not all noncurrent assets are property, plant, or equipment. In addition, some intangible assets are nonphysical (e.g., patents and copyrights). 

These assets are categorized as noncurrent because they bring value to a company. However, these assets cannot be easily converted into cash within one year. 

Companies typically hold bonds and notes on their balance sheets for more than one fiscal year. For this reason, these long-term investments are considered noncurrent assets. 


To calculate, find the sum of the gross property, plant, and equipment listed on the balance sheet and capital expenditures. Then, take that result and subtract accumulated depreciation. 


Most of the time, the calculation has already been done when it is listed under net PP&E on a company's balance sheet. 


Net PPE = Gross PP&E + Capital Expenditures - AD

Where AD = accumulated depreciation.

Concepts are much easier to grasp when given an example. Therefore, let's take a look at one below: 

In July 2021, Company X owned PP&E machinery with a gross value of $3,000,000. Accumulated depreciation for the same machinery was $1,200,000. 

Due to damage and weathering of the machinery, Company X decided to buy another $2,000,000 in new equipment. Therefore, the depreciation expense for all old and new equipment for this period is $130,000. 

Thus the ending balance is 3,670,000. This was calculated by taking $3,000,000 + $2,000,000 - $1,200,000 - $130,000.



A company's property, plant, and equipment are beneficial for investment analysts and accountants who want to assess its financial health and determine whether it is using its funds efficiently and effectively. 

When a company invests heavily in this, it is a good signal to investors. Because fixed assets are significant investments for a company, buying property, plants, and equipment signifies that the company predicts long-term growth and profitability. 

These are a firm's physical assets that it predicts will be economically beneficial and bring in revenues over a long period. Capital investment is another way to refer to a company's investment in property, plant, and equipment. 

Some companies can be capital intensive if they require a significant amount of fixed assets. 

A company may liquidate its property, plant, and equipment when they are no longer helpful or when a company is in a difficult financial position. To investors, selling this might signify a company's poor financial health. 

Most often, a company does not make a profit through selling them, regardless of the circumstance. A company may also use them as collateral for a loan. This process is called borrowing off PP&E or a floating lien

Accounting for PP&E and their limitations


A company records its property, plant, and equipment on its financial statements, particularly on the balance sheet. Initially, it is calculated according to its historical cost. The historical cost is the cost associated with an asset's purchase and the price related to an asset's uses. 

For instance, when a company buys a factory for production operations, the historical costs could include the purchase price, transaction fees, and factory improvements that allow it to maximize its utility. 

The value of property, plant and equipment is consistently adjusted to account for the depreciation of fixed assets. Depreciation is the distribution of the cost of a physical asset over its useful life to account for its decrease in value. Accumulated depreciation is a company's cost allocated to depreciation over time. 

It is important to note that land does not depreciate due to its capacity to appreciate. Because of this, the land is denoted at its current market value

The book value is a company's balance of property, plant, and equipment after it accounts for historical cost and depreciation and is recalculated every reporting period. This value can be found on a company's balance sheet.

While property, plant, and equipment can be helpful to investors when analyzing a company, it is not without fault. Therefore, it is essential to consider its limitations.

They are essential for many companies to succeed in the long run. For example, a company might sell a portion of its assets to raise cash and increase profit or net income. Thus, companies and investors need to monitor property, plant, equipment, and fixed asset sales investments

Its analysis is limited in its ability to account for intangible assets, like a company's trademark. For instance, Google's trademark and brand name embody significant intangible assets. As a result, investors cannot see Google's value if they only look at its property, plant, and equipment.

Another limitation is that it does not offer a valuable metric for companies with few fixed assets. 

impact on investors

Companies looking to grow may purchase fixed assets to invest in their long-term future. These purchases are referred to as capital expenditures (CapEx) and significantly affect the company's financial position. 

It is essential to know whether the asset is purchased using cash, financed by equity or debt, and how the purchasing of the asset affects the company's financial viability. 

It is vital to understand the allocation of a company's capital, whether it is making capital expenditures, and how it is raising capital to finance its projects. 

The stock price of a company may decline if new equity is issued. This is due to the dilution of shares. In addition, the company may struggle to pay dividends in the future if cash is used to finance projects. 

If a company decides to receive financing from a bank or private equity firm, the company will have to pay debt-servicing costs that are associated with the long-term debt they are paying for.  

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Researched and authored by Rachel Kim | LinkedIn

Edited by Nicolas Palmer | LinkedIn

Uploaded by Tamanna Hassan | LinkedIn

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