Many companies acquire equity shares of other companies. The applicable accounting procedures depend on the purpose for the ownership. If the investment is only to be held for a short period of time, it is labeled a trading security and adjusted to fair value whenever financial statements are to be produced. Any change in value creates a gain or loss that is reported within net income because fair value is objectively determined, the shares can be liquidated easily, and a quick sale is anticipated before a large change in fair value is likely to occur. Dividends received by the owner are recorded as revenue. Whenever trading securities are sold, only the increase or decrease in value during the current year is reported within net income since earlier changes have already been reported in that manner.
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