Definition: Replacement cost is the amount of money required to replace an existing asset with an equally valued or similar asset at the current market price. In other words, it is the cost of purchasing a substitute asset for the current asset being used by a company.
What Does Replacement Cost Mean?
This concept is important to businesses because most assets wear out and need to be replaced eventually. Take a car for example. After 5-10 years, the vehicle will no longer work and will need to be retired and a new one will need to be purchased. Most likely the replacement will cost more than the price paid for the original vehicle. Another thing to keep in mind is that the replacement cost must include any other cost incurred for the new asset to be fully available and operational.
When a company is evaluating the scenario of replacing an asset it is very important to consider the profitability of the purchase at the new cost. Since the newly purchased asset might be more expensive than the old asset, the new purchase must be evaluated carefully to see if the net present value of the investment stays positive considering the new price of the asset.
This concept is also important for company valuations. If a company’s asset has a historical cost that differs widely from its current market price, the replacement cost might increase the value of the company. For instance, if the company purchased a building 20 years ago in an up-and-coming area, the historical cost of the building is much less than its replacement cost. Thus, making the company more valuable than its balance sheet lets on.
Here’s another example.
Big Trucks INC. is a company that provides car rental services. The company’s fleet is mostly made up of big trucks for people in the construction business. The company has to replace one of his cars because it is too old and clients don’t want to lease it anymore. The truck was initially bought at $20,000, but the current market price of a similar truck is $23,000.
In this situation, it would cost the company $23,000 to purchase a similar asset to the one they current have in order to replace it. Thus, $23,000 is the replacement cost of the $20,000 truck because this is how much it would cost to buy that same truck today.