Non-Cash Charge

What it is:

A non-cash charge is a write down or expense against earnings that does not involve cash.

How it works/Example:

A company will take a non-cash charge against non-cash items on the balance sheet, such as depreciation, amortization, and depletion.  These charges are typically made when something unusual happens, often outside the control of the company.  For example, a revision to an accounting or tax rule might cause a balance sheet asset to be written down.  A change in technologies rendering a piece of equipment obsolete or a legal ruling against the company on intellection property, or a unexpected acceleration in depreciation of an asset's market value may trigger non-cash charges.

Why it Matters:

A non-cash charge, as well as other types of write downs, will result in lower reported earnings.  Earnings performance is an important measure of a company's competitive position in the equity markets.  As a result, a write-down may affect a company's stock price.

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