Financial modelling terms explained

Long-Term Assets

Unravel the complexities of long-term assets with our comprehensive guide to financial modeling terms.

Understanding the concept of long-term assets is crucial in the realm of financial modelling. These assets, which are expected to provide economic benefits over a period longer than one year, play a significant role in a company's financial health and stability. This article delves into the intricacies of long-term assets, their types, how they are accounted for, and their importance in financial modelling.

Understanding Long-Term Assets

Long-term assets, also known as non-current assets, are investments that a company expects to hold for more than a year. They are not intended for resale but are used in the production of goods or services intended for sale. These assets are essential for maintaining a company's long-term operations and are a critical component of a company's overall value.

Long-term assets can be tangible or intangible. Tangible assets are physical in nature, such as buildings, machinery, and land. Intangible assets, on the other hand, lack physical substance and include patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

Tangible Long-Term Assets

Tangible long-term assets are physical resources that a company uses in its operations to generate revenue. These assets undergo depreciation over their useful life. This depreciation is an expense that is recorded in the company's income statement. Examples of tangible long-term assets include property, plant, and equipment (PP&E).

PP&E is often the largest long-term assets item in a company's balance sheet. These assets are critical for companies in manufacturing, retail, and other sectors that require significant investments in physical assets.

Intangible Long-Term Assets

Intangible long-term assets are non-physical assets that contribute to a company's earning capacity. Unlike tangible assets, intangible assets do not undergo physical wear and tear. However, they may lose their value over time due to factors such as legal expiry and obsolescence.

Examples of intangible assets include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and goodwill. These assets are crucial for companies in technology, pharmaceuticals, and other sectors where intellectual property plays a key role.

Accounting for Long-Term Assets

Long-term assets are recorded on a company's balance sheet at their purchase price. Over time, these assets depreciate, with the exception of land, which is considered to have an indefinite life. The depreciation of these assets is accounted for annually and reduces the value of the asset on the balance sheet.

Intangible assets are amortized over their useful life. Amortization, like depreciation, is a method of spreading the cost of an asset over its expected life. However, it is used for intangible assets, while depreciation is used for tangible assets.


Depreciation is the process of allocating the cost of a tangible asset over its useful life. It is a way of recognizing that the value of an asset decreases over time due to factors such as wear and tear and obsolescence. There are several methods of calculating depreciation, including the straight-line method and the declining balance method.

The straight-line method is the simplest and most commonly used method. It involves spreading the cost of the asset evenly over its useful life. The declining balance method, on the other hand, results in higher depreciation expenses in the early years of an asset's life.


Amortization is similar to depreciation, but it is used for intangible assets. The process involves gradually writing off the initial cost of an intangible asset over a period of time. Amortization is typically calculated using the straight-line method, which means the cost is distributed evenly over the asset's estimated useful life.

However, if an intangible asset has an indefinite life, such as a brand name, it is not amortized. Instead, the asset is tested annually for impairment, which means its carrying value on the balance sheet is compared with its recoverable amount. If the carrying value is higher, an impairment loss is recognized.

The Role of Long-Term Assets in Financial Modelling

Long-term assets play a significant role in financial modelling. They are a key component of a company's balance sheet and are essential for calculating several financial ratios, including the debt-to-assets ratio and the return on assets ratio.

Furthermore, the depreciation and amortization of long-term assets are important considerations in financial modelling. They affect a company's net income and cash flow, which are key inputs in financial models.

Debt-to-Assets Ratio

The debt-to-assets ratio is a financial metric that measures the proportion of a company's assets that are financed by debt. A higher ratio indicates a higher degree of financial risk. Long-term assets are a key component of this ratio, as they make up a significant portion of a company's total assets.

This ratio is particularly important in financial modelling for companies with high levels of debt. It provides insight into the company's leverage and financial stability, which are key considerations for investors and creditors.

Return on Assets Ratio

The return on assets (ROA) ratio is a measure of a company's profitability relative to its total assets. It is calculated by dividing net income by total assets. Long-term assets are a key component of total assets, and thus, they significantly impact the ROA ratio.

The ROA ratio is a key indicator of a company's financial performance. A higher ROA indicates that the company is using its assets more efficiently to generate profits. Therefore, it is a crucial metric in financial modelling and investment analysis.


Long-term assets are a vital part of a company's financial health and stability. Understanding their nature, how they are accounted for, and their role in financial modelling is crucial for anyone involved in financial analysis and decision making. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of these assets, one can make more informed decisions and create more accurate financial models.

Whether tangible or intangible, long-term assets contribute significantly to a company's earning capacity. Therefore, they should be managed effectively to ensure the company's long-term success and sustainability.

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