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Last year's serious dip in consumer demand gave CFOs headaches over bloated inventory levels and forced companies to absorb big discounts - to the benefit of their customers but to the detriment of their earnings. But just as one person's trash is another's treasure, the dilemma for CFOs with swollen balance sheets was good for the margins of Bill Morrison, CFO of Genco Marketplace, which liquidates other companies' excess inventory.
Are companies getting better at forecasting their ability to offload their own inventory?
"With excess goods, you're generally dealing with errors in the supply chain, because a company has made or bought too much of something," says Morrison. "There is room for improvement, though. I think CFOs are reluctant to take write-downs from inventories and take a loss to liquidate, but they can turn that inventory into cash. Plus, there's some tax savings by taking the write-downs. The longer a product sits on the shelf, it's likely to decline in the amount of recovery that's available. You're not dealing with wine and scotch that gets better with age."
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