Long-term investments on a balance sheet: A comprehensive guide



The balance sheet is one of the key financial statements that provides a snapshot of a company's financial position at a specific point in time. It presents the company's assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity. While most people are familiar with the basic components of a balance sheet, such as cash, accounts receivable, and debt, there is one category that often requires more in-depth understanding: long-term investments.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the concept of long-term investments on a balance sheet. We will discuss what long-term investments are, how they are classified, and why they are important for investors and companies alike. We will also delve into the different types of long-term investments and their impact on a company's financial health. So, let's dive in!

What are long-term investments?

Long-term investments, also known as non-current investments or long-term assets, are assets that a company holds for an extended period of time, typically more than one year. These investments are not intended for immediate sale or conversion into cash, unlike current assets such as cash and accounts receivable.

Long-term investments are typically made by companies to generate income, gain control over other entities, or achieve strategic objectives. They can take various forms, including stocks, bonds, real estate, and other financial instruments. Companies may also invest in subsidiaries, joint ventures, or partnerships as part of their long-term investment strategy.

Classification of long-term investments

Long-term investments are classified into different categories on a balance sheet based on their nature and purpose. The most common classifications include:

1. Marketable securities: These are investments in publicly traded stocks, bonds, or other securities that can be easily bought or sold in the financial markets. Marketable securities are typically classified as either trading securities or available-for-sale securities, depending on the company's intention to actively trade or hold the investments.

2. Non-marketable securities: These are investments in privately held companies, partnerships, or other entities that are not traded on public exchanges. Non-marketable securities are often classified as equity method investments, where the company has significant influence over the investee but does not have control.

3. Loans and notes receivable: These are long-term loans or notes issued by the company to other entities. They represent the company's claims on the borrowers and are typically recorded at their present value. Loans and notes receivable can be secured or unsecured, depending on whether they are backed by collateral.

4. Property, plant, and equipment: These are tangible assets that are used in the company's operations, such as land, buildings, machinery, and vehicles. While property, plant, and equipment are primarily used in the business, they can also be considered long-term investments if they are held for their potential to generate future economic benefits.

Importance of long-term investments

Long-term investments play a crucial role in a company's financial health and strategic direction. Here are some key reasons why long-term investments are important:

1. Diversification: Long-term investments allow companies to diversify their sources of income and reduce reliance on a single business or industry. By investing in different assets or entities, companies can spread their risks and potentially achieve higher returns.

2. Income generation: Long-term investments can generate income for the company through dividends, interest, or rental payments. This income can contribute to the company's profitability and cash flow, providing financial stability and flexibility.

3. Strategic objectives: Companies may make long-term investments to achieve strategic objectives, such as expanding into new markets, acquiring complementary businesses, or gaining access to new technologies. These investments can help companies enhance their competitive position and drive long-term growth.

4. Shareholder value creation: Long-term investments can create value for shareholders by increasing the company's asset base, generating income, and enhancing the company's overall financial performance. This can lead to higher stock prices and dividends, benefiting shareholders in the long run.

Types of long-term investments

There are several types of long-term investments that companies can make, depending on their investment objectives and risk appetite. Here are some common types of long-term investments:

1. Stocks: Companies can invest in publicly traded stocks to gain ownership in other companies. Stocks offer the potential for capital appreciation and dividends. However, they also carry risks, such as market volatility and the potential for loss of principal.

2. Bonds: Bonds are debt securities issued by governments, municipalities, or corporations. They pay fixed interest over a specified period and return the principal at maturity. Bonds are generally considered less risky than stocks but offer lower returns.

3. Real estate: Companies can invest in real estate properties, such as residential, commercial, or industrial properties. Real estate investments can provide rental income and potential appreciation in property value. However, they require significant capital and involve risks related to property market fluctuations.

4. Mutual funds: Mutual funds pool money from multiple investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities. They offer professional management and diversification benefits but charge fees and expenses.

5. Private equity: Companies can invest in privately held companies or funds that invest in such companies. Private equity investments involve buying stakes in non-publicly traded companies and holding them for an extended period. They offer the potential for high returns but are illiquid and carry higher risks.

6. Venture capital: Venture capital investments are made in early-stage or high-growth companies with significant growth potential. These investments are typically made by specialized venture capital firms and involve higher risks but also the potential for substantial returns.

Impact on the balance sheet

Long-term investments are reported on the balance sheet at their fair value, which represents their estimated market value. The fair value is determined based on market prices, comparable transactions, or valuation models.

On the balance sheet, long-term investments are typically presented as a separate line item under non-current assets. They are reported at their original cost or fair value, net of any impairment losses. Any changes in the fair value of long-term investments are recorded in the company's comprehensive income or equity.

The classification of long-term investments on the balance sheet can also impact the company's financial ratios and performance indicators. For example, companies that hold a significant amount of marketable securities may have higher liquidity ratios, while those with substantial property, plant, and equipment may have higher asset turnover ratios.


Long-term investments are an essential component of a company's balance sheet. They represent assets that are held for an extended period and play a crucial role in diversification, income generation, and strategic objectives. By understanding the different types of long-term investments and their impact on the balance sheet, investors and companies can make informed decisions and assess the financial health and performance of a company.

21 October 2023
Written by John Roche