Short vs Long Term Assets: Difference and Comparison

Short-term assets, such as cash and accounts receivable, are held for immediate use or conversion within a year. In contrast, long-term assets, like property and investments, are intended for sustained use and held for periods exceeding one year. The distinction helps assess liquidity and investment horizon.

Key Takeaways

  1. Short-term or current assets can be converted into cash or used up within one year or one operating cycle. In contrast, long-term, non-current assets have a useful life extending beyond one year or one operating cycle.
  2. Short-term assets include cash, accounts receivable, and inventory, while long-term assets include property, plant, equipment, and intangible assets like patents or trademarks.
  3. Classifying assets into short-term and long-term categories is essential for financial analysis, as it helps assess a company’s liquidity, solvency, and overall financial health.

Short Term vs Long Term Assets

The difference between short-term and long-term assets is that short-term assets can be recovered within a year, whereas long-term assets cannot be recovered in a year.

Short Term vs Long Term Assets


Comparison Table

FeatureShort-Term AssetsLong-Term Assets
DefinitionAssets expected to be converted into cash within one year (or operating cycle if longer than a year)Assets not expected to be converted into cash within one year (or operating cycle if longer than a year)
ExamplesCash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable, marketable securities, prepaid expenses, inventoryLand, buildings, equipment, vehicles, intangibles (patents, copyrights)
LiquidityHighly liquid, easily convertible to cashLess liquid, takes longer to convert to cash
PurposeFund day-to-day operations, pay short-term debtsGenerate long-term returns, support future operations
RiskLower risk of value fluctuationsHigher risk of value fluctuations due to depreciation, obsolescence, market changes
Management focusEfficient management of cash flow and working capitalPlanning and investment decisions for long-term growth and profitability
Financial analysisCurrent ratio, working capital ratio, quick ratioDebt-to-equity ratio, return on assets (ROA), return on equity (ROE)
Tax implicationsMay receive tax benefits for depreciation of certain assetsMay be subject to capital gains taxes upon sale


What are Short Term Assets?

Short-term assets are financial resources and holdings that a company or individual expects to convert into cash or consume within a relatively brief timeframe, within one year. These assets play a crucial role in maintaining liquidity and meeting short-term obligations.

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Characteristics of Short-Term Assets

  1. High Liquidity: Short-term assets are highly liquid, meaning they can be quickly converted into cash without significant loss of value. Examples include cash, marketable securities, and accounts receivable.
  2. Quick Conversion to Cash: These assets are readily convertible to cash within the normal operating cycle of a business, 12 months. This quick conversion ability helps entities respond to immediate financial needs.
  3. Current Nature: Short-term assets are classified as current assets on a balance sheet, reflecting their expected conversion or consumption within the short term. They contribute to the working capital of a business.
  4. Examples of Short-Term Assets:
    • Cash and Cash Equivalents: Immediate and easily accessible funds.
    • Accounts Receivable: Amounts owed by customers for products or services.
    • Inventory: Goods held for sale or raw materials for production.
    • Short-Term Investments: Securities with maturities of one year or less.
  5. Working Capital Management: Effective management of short-term assets is essential for maintaining a healthy cash flow and ensuring the ability to cover short-term liabilities.
short term assets

What are Long Term Assets?

Long-term assets represent durable resources that a company or individual intends to utilize for an extended period, exceeding one year. These assets contribute to the entity’s productive capacity and are vital for long-term growth and sustainability.

Characteristics of Long-Term Assets

  1. Extended Useful Life: Long-term assets have a useful life extending beyond the current accounting period. Examples include buildings, machinery, and vehicles, which can be used for many years.
  2. Lower Liquidity: Unlike short-term assets, long-term assets are less liquid and may not be easily converted into cash. Selling these assets may take time and may result in a loss of value.
  3. Capital Expenditure: Acquiring long-term assets involves significant capital expenditure. Companies make these investments to enhance operational capabilities, increase efficiency, or expand their business.
  4. Depreciation: Long-term assets are subject to depreciation, reflecting the gradual reduction in their value over time. This accounting practice acknowledges wear and tear, ensuring accurate financial reporting.
  5. Examples of Long-Term Assets:
    • Property, Plant, and Equipment (PP&E): Land, buildings, machinery, and other physical assets used for business operations.
    • Intangible Assets: Patents, trademarks, copyrights, and goodwill that contribute to long-term value.
    • Investments: Holdings in stocks, bonds, or other securities with a maturity beyond one year.
  6. Strategic Importance: Long-term assets are integral to a company’s strategic planning and growth initiatives. They enable businesses to build a strong foundation for future success.
long term assets

Main Differences Between Short-Term and Long-Term Assets

  • Time Horizon:
    • Short-term assets are intended for use or conversion within one year.
    • Long-term assets have a useful life extending beyond one year.
  • Liquidity:
    • Short-term assets are highly liquid, quickly convertible into cash without significant loss.
    • Long-term assets are less liquid, may take time to convert into cash, and could incur value losses upon sale.
  • Examples:
    • Short-term assets include cash, accounts receivable, and inventory.
    • Long-term assets encompass property, plant, and equipment (PP&E), intangible assets, and long-term investments.
  • Use of Funds:
    • Short-term assets contribute to working capital and help meet immediate financial obligations.
    • Long-term assets involve significant capital expenditure, contributing to the company’s long-term growth and operational capacity.
  • Accounting Treatment:
    • Short-term assets are classified as current assets on the balance sheet.
    • Long-term assets are categorized as non-current assets, reflecting their extended useful life.
  • Depreciation:
    • Short-term assets do not undergo depreciation.
    • Long-term assets, especially physical assets like machinery or buildings, are subject to depreciation to account for wear and tear.
  • Strategic Importance:
    • Short-term assets are crucial for day-to-day operations and maintaining liquidity.
    • Long-term assets play a strategic role in the company’s long-range planning, expansion, and competitiveness.
Difference Between Short Term and Long Term Assets
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Last Updated : 11 February, 2024

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