Inventories are valued at the lower of cost (which approximates actual cost on a first-in, first-out basis) or market. Costs related to warehousing, transportation and distribution to customers are considered when computing market value. Inventories include the cost of raw materials, labor and manufacturing overhead. We regularly review inventory quantities on hand and write down any excess or obsolete inventories to net realizable value. An inventory reserve is created when potentially slow-moving or obsolete inventories are identified in order to reflect the appropriate inventory value. Changes in economic conditions, production requirements, and lower than expected customer demand could result in additional obsolete or slow-moving inventory that cannot be sold or must be sold at reduced prices and could result in additional reserve provisions.
Property, plant and equipment
Property, plant and equipment are carried at cost less accumulated depreciation. Major renewals and improvements are charged to the asset accounts while the cost of maintenance and repairs is charged to expense as incurred. When assets are sold or otherwise disposed of, the cost and accumulated depreciation are removed from the respective accounts and the resulting gain or loss is credited or charged to income. Depreciation is computed on a straight-line basis over 10 to 20 years for buildings and improvements, 5 to 10 years for machinery and equipment, and 3 to 5 years for transportation equipment.
Life insurance policies
We record the cash surrender value or contract value for life insurance policies as an adjustment of premiums paid in determining the expense or income to be recognized under the contract for the period.
Deferred taxes are provided for items whose financial and tax bases differ. A valuation allowance is provided against deferred tax assets when it is expected that it is more likely than not that the related asset will not be fully realized. During the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008, management recorded a full valuation allowance with respect to its deferred tax assets. The determination as to whether or not a deferred tax asset can be fully realized is subject to a significant degree of judgment, based at least partially upon a projection of future taxable income, which takes into consideration past and future trends in profitability, customer demand, supply costs, and multiple other factors, none of which are predictable. The Company policy outlines measurable objective criteria that must be met before a release of the valuation allowance will occur. Due to the degree of judgment involved, actual taxable income could differ materially from management's estimates, or the timing of taxable income could be such that the net operating losses could expire prior to their utilization. Management could determine in the future that the assets are realizable, materially increasing net income in one or many periods. Following recognition, management could again change its determination in the future, materially decreasing income.
We provide tax accruals for federal, state, local and international exposures relating to audit results, tax planning initiatives and compliance responsibilities. The development of these accruals requires judgments about tax issues, potential outcomes and timing. (See Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements). Although the outcome of these tax audits is uncertain, in management’s opinion adequate provisions for income taxes have been made for potential liabilities emanating from these reviews. If actual outcomes differ materially from these estimates, they could have a material impact on our results of operations.
We measure and recognize compensation expense for all share-based payments to employees, including grants of employee stock options, in the financial statements based on the fair value at the date of the grant. We have not issued, awarded, granted or entered into any stock-based payment agreements since April 29, 1999.
Foreign currency transactions
Our foreign branch located in Canada enters into transactions that are denominated in a foreign currency. The related transaction gains and losses arising from changes in exchange rates are not material and are included in selling, general and administrative expenses in the consolidated statement of operations in the period the transaction occurred.
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