Unrealized gains or unrealized losses refer to the increase or decrease respectively in the paper value of the different assets of the company, which have not yet been sold by the company and once such assets are sold then the gains or losses arising on it will be realized by the company.
What is Unrealized Gains/Losses?
Unrealized gain/losses is an increase/decrease in the value of the asset that is not yet sold for cash. It is also called “paper profit” or “paper loss”. Unrealized gain/losses can be thought of as money on paper which the Company expects to realize by selling the asset in the future. When the Company sells the asset, it realizes the gains (losses) and pays taxes on such profit.
Portfolio valuations, mutual funds NAV and some tax policies depend on Unrealized gains/losses which are also called marked to market.
Calculate Unrealized Gain Losses with Example
Unrealized Gains Example 1
A Company XYZ has an investment of $ 10000 in stocks which it holds for trading purposes. The value of these stocks has increased to $ 25000. The Company could record $ 15000 as Unrealized gain on these positions without actually selling the securities. This will only be paper profit and the Company will not be liable to pay any taxes for such recorded Unrealized gains.
However, say he sells these positions for $ 30000 later in the year or next year it would record a realized gain of $ 20000 in the net income and he is liable to pay taxes on such gains.
From the above example, we can say that an Unrealized gain is a difference between the value of the investment now and the investment done by the person in the past.
Unrealized Gains Example 2
Let us take another example, A person ABC bought 500 stocks of $3 each with an original investment of $ 1500. He paid brokerage of $10 on the purchase of these stocks and the current value of each stock is $7. Here, the total value of the investment is $ 3500. Thus, the Unrealized gain is (3500 – 1500 = $ 2000). However, to be precise the person can subtract the brokerage paid on these stocks and say the Unrealized gain is 2000 – 10 = $ 1900.
The above two examples were how to calculate Unrealized losses or gains.
Let us take a real unrealized losses or gains example:
Dot-com bubble created a lot of Unrealized wealth and then it evaporated as the crash happened. During the dot-com boom lot of stock options, RSUs were given to the employees as rewards and incentives. It saw many employees turning as millionaires in no time but they could not realize their gains due to restrictions to hold them for a time period. Thus, the dot-com bubble crashed and all the Unrealized wealth evaporated.
Unrealized Gains and Losses Accounting
The accounting treatment for Unrealized gain and losses depends on whether the securities are classified into 3 types which are given below.
#1 – Held to Maturity Securities
Unrealized Gain and losses on securities held to maturity are not recognized in the financial statements. Such securities do not impact the financial statements – balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. Many Companies may value these securities at market value and may choose to disclose it in the footnotes of the financial statements. However, if the market value is not disclosed held to maturity securities are reported at amortized cost.
#2 – Trading Securities
Securities held as ‘trading securities’ are reported at fair value in the financial statements. Unrealized gains or unrealized losses are recognized on the PnL statement and impact the net income of the Company, although these securities have not been sold to realize the profits. The gains increase the net income and thus the increase in earnings per share and retained earnings. There is no impact of such gains on the cash flow statement.
#3- Available for Sale Securities
Available for sale securities are also reported at fair value. However, accounting for such securities differ from ‘trading securities’. Due to fair value treatment for “available for sale” securities, Unrealized gains or unrealized losses are included in the balance sheet on the asset side, however, such gains do not impact the net income of the Company. The Unrealized gains on such securities are not recognized in net income till they are sold and profit is realized. The Unrealized gains are reported under shareholders equity as “accumulated other comprehensive income” on the balance sheet. The cash flow statement is also not affected by such securities.
Unrealized gains/losses on Income Statement / Balance Sheet
The accounting treatment for various types of securities and their impact on financial statements is tabulated below:
|Type of security||Valued at?||Impact on Balance sheet||Impact on Income Statement||Impact on Cash flow|
|Held to maturity||Generally Amortised to cost||No Impact||No Impact||No Impact|
|Trading securities||Fair Value||Unrealized gain/losses recognized on Balance sheet||Unrealized gains/losses recognized on PnL statement and impacts net income||No impact|
|Available for sale||Fair Value||Unrealized gains or unrealized losses recognized on Balance sheet||Unrealized gains or unrealized losses not recognized on PnL||No Impact|
Importance of Unrealized Gains/Losses
- It is good to know the unrealized gain on the portfolio. It helps to track the performance of the portfolio. Although, they are only “on paper” profits but give a good estimate of what actual profits could be in the near future if the positions are sold.
- Unrealized Gain or losses will help in tax planning. Taxes are paid only on realized gains, thus by knowing the Unrealized Gain, the Company can forecast the amount of tax to be paid if they sell the securities.
- The investor can plan when to sell the security and realize his gains. Holding a security for a longer time may reduce the tax implication as it will be treated as long-term capital gains tax. Thus, the investor can plan and sell the security after one year of its purchase than selling in the same year to reduce the tax implication.
Unrealized Gain/Losses – Conclusion
An Unrealized gain is an increase in the value of the investment due to increase in its market value and calculated as (Fair Value or market value – purchase cost). Such a gain is recorded in balance sheet before the asset has been sold and thus the gains are called Unrealized because no cash transaction actually happened. For securities except for trading securities the Unrealized gains do not impact the net income. The gains are realized only after selling the asset for cash because it is only when the transaction has materialized.
Video on Unrealized Gains (Losses)
This has been a guide to what are Unrealized Gains and Losses. Here we discuss practical examples along with the type of securities that result in such unrealized gains or losses. Here we also discuss Unrealized Gains/losses accounting and why they are important. You may also have a look at these articles below to learn more about accounting –