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Under cost ( English Prime costs ) is understood in the calculation of the in the production of goods and services at individual payers incurred costs .


The determination of the prime costs forms the basis of operational calculations. The amount of the cost is determined by the cost calculation. The first specific publication on prime costs came out in 1921 by Kurt Tecklenburg . Another by Otto Schulz-Mehrin followed in 1923 , which dealt with the effects of inflation in 1923 on cost accounting. In 1925, Eugen Schmalenbach pointed out that, among the purposes of cost accounting, two particularly stand out, both as a basis for price calculation and to determine the most favorable production program and level of employment . In 1925, Hans Müller-Bernhardt also dealt with the relationship between cost of sales and fluctuating levels of employment . Since the prime cost calculation is primarily used to calculate prices, prime costs are the most important lower benchmark when determining prices . The determination of the prime costs is the goal of the differentiated overhead calculation .

In the context of full cost accounting , the total cost of sales is added to the product , while in partial cost accounting only the variable cost components of manufacturing , administration and sales costs are included in the cost calculation .


The prime costs consist of the following types of costs :

+ Direct material costs MEK
+ Material overheads MGK
= Material costs + MK
+ Direct production costs FEK
+ Manufacturing overheads FGK
+ Development costs EK
= Manufacturing costs + FK
= Manufacturing costs (MK + FK) = HK
+ Administrative and distribution overheads VVGK
= Cost SK

Business aspects and key figures

Costs therefore include material , production , development , administration and sales costs . The material and manufacturing costs form the block of manufacturing costs . The distribution of administration, sales and development costs among the cost units is based on the cost of sales. They are the manufacturing costs of production, adjusted for changes in inventory . This structure is mainly used in manufacturing companies. In trading , the cost is the sum of the cost price and handling costs . The cost unit unit and cost unit time accounting must be clearly distinguished from this scheme.

The total sum of the prime costs is distributed to the number of cost units using a simple division calculation :

If, for example, the cost of 500,000 euros per year in a hotel is distributed over 25 hotel rooms , the cost per room and per day is around 54.80 euros. The frequency (or capacity utilization) is determined by

If 5,840 overnight stays are sold per year (with 7,300 possible overnight stays) and the cost is 54.80 euros, this results in an occupancy-related cost of 68.50 euros per cost unit (room) with this occupancy rate of 80%. This amount decreases with increasing workload and vice versa. For example, if the occupancy is 95%, the cost price is around 57.70 euros.

In the calculation, the prime costs form the starting point for determining the price:

    + Gewinnaufschlag
    = Verkaufspreis (netto)

Since with a constant profit mark-up, the prime costs can fluctuate due to the capacity utilization, the sales prices decrease with increasing capacity utilization. If the prices are kept constant, however, the profit increases proportionally.

The prime costs do not constitute the upper limit for the commercial manufacturing costs ; the upper limit is usually below cost. On the one hand are namely to § 255 para. 2 sentence 6 HGB not selling expenses to manufacturing costs, on the other hand, the cost must be the so-called additional costs ( imputed depreciation and imputed interest ) to be cut.


The cost price is intended to suggest to buyers that an entrepreneur sells his goods without profit , because the cost per unit is then identical to the sales price. The cost price is legally the price that covers the cost of goods. Even pricing below cost, at least if the cost is only temporarily or occasionally undercut, is not objectionable under competition law according to the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). However, a sale below cost or cost price had, according to the case law, to be qualified as unfair since 1979 if it represented a general obstacle to the market . It is to be answered in the affirmative if the price undercutting is objectively not justified and can lead to competitors being forced out of the market and competition in the relevant market being completely or almost completely eliminated. The legislature has taken up this case law and has expressly prohibited the offer below cost price in the 6th amendment to the GWB since January 1999. According to this, the sale of goods and commercial services below the cost price "companies with market power superior to small and medium-sized competitors" is prohibited if it is not only occasionally or is "objectively justified" ( Section 20 (3 ) GWB ). Strictly speaking, it is not just the sale but an offer below cost price that is prohibited.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Kurt Tecklenburg: The cost of the railway operation . In: ZVDE , 61, April 7, 1921, p. 260
  2. Otto Schulz-Mehrin: Simplified cost and price calculation to take into account currency devaluation . In: Maschinenbau / Wirtschaft , Issue 24, September 15, 1923, pp. 975 ff.
  3. ^ Eugen Schmalenbach: Basics of cost accounting and pricing policy . 1925, p. 52
  4. ^ Hans Müller-Bernhardt: Industrial prime costs with fluctuating level of employment . 1925
  5. Klaus Rumer: Success strategies for medium-sized companies in international competition . 1998, p. 56
  6. ^ Günter Wöhe : Introduction to general business administration . 25th edition. 2010, p. 920
  7. ^ Josef Kloock : Costs . In: Wolfgang Lück: Lexicon of business administration . 1990, p. 1034
  8. ^ Harry Zingel: Textbook of cost and performance accounting . 2004, p. 69
  9. ^ Wolfgang Hilke: Accounting policy . 1991, p. 115 f.
  10. BGH, judgment of July 14, 1965, Az. Ib ZR 81/63 full text = GRUR 1966, 214, 217 - introductory offer
  11. ^ BGH, judgment of January 8, 1960, Az. I ZR 7/59, Information = GRUR 1960, 331, 334 - Schleuderpreise
  12. ^ BGH, judgment of January 31, 1979, Az. I ZR 21/77, full text = GRUR 1979, 321, 323 - sale below cost price I.