Allocating indirect costs can be a challenging task Almost all
Allocating indirect costs can be a challenging task. Almost all firms have some type of cost centers (departments), whether it is the administration overseeing the corporation as a whole or the accounting department processing billing and invoicing customers. Deciding what to do with the costs generated by these cost centers can be difficult. Let’s take a look at Sears Holdings Corporation.
1. Go to the home page for Sears Holdings at . How many companies are listed under the umbrella of Sears Holdings Corporation? What are these companies? How many stores do the companies operate? How many of them are located in the area where you are located? If one or more is not located in your area, have you heard of it before?
2. Locate Sears Holdings’ most recent annual report by clicking on “Investors” at Sears Holdings’ home page and then on the most recent annual report. Look at the “Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.” Did the firm provide any information on segment revenues? What are its operating segments? What is the sum the operating incomes of the segments for the current year?
Now, look at the income statement for the current year. What is the firm-wide operating income for the year? Is the firm-wide operating income different from the sum of the segment operating incomes? What does this tell you about what portion of company-wide operating costs are allocated to segments? What percent of the total selling and administrative costs are allocated to each segment?
3. If Sears Holdings allocates the selling and administrative costs to the major segments based on total segment revenue, what percent of selling and administrative expenses is allocated to each segment? What would be the allocation if the company used the total assets as the allocation basis? Do these differ from the actual allocation bases that are implied by the segment selling and administrative expenses?

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