Accounting for Issuance of Warrants: Definition, Journal Entries, and More

Risk is a crucial factor when making decisions about investments for investors. Usually, these risks dictate the loss that these investors will make on their assets. These risks also relate to specific situations or circumstances. For some investments, they will be high, while for others, these may be lower. Ultimately, the investor must decide how to mitigate those risks or reduce them.

However, investors also have several methods that can help achieve certainty. One of the definitions of risk is uncertainty. When investors can achieve assurance with their investments, they can element any of those risks that come with them. Usually, investors can use several tools to accomplish this. One of these includes warrants, which are similar to options.

Warrants can be highly crucial in avoiding any uncertainty with an investment. However, these tools can make the accounting process more complicated. Usually, these tools involve two stages. The first relates to the issuance of warrants. The second comes when investors choose to exercise them. Before understanding the accounting for these processes, it is crucial to understand what warrants are.

What is a Warrant?

A warrant is a financial instrument issued by companies in exchange for an expense or payment. These instruments involve the right to buy or sell a security in the future. Usually, the underlying security is an equity instrument, which can be a company’s common stock. Warrants do not carry an obligation, though. Therefore, the holder has the choice of whether they can buy or sell the stock.

Warrants have specific characteristics which can make them a highly beneficial investment for investors. The first of these includes a maturity date, which dictates how long these tools will be available. Once this period is over, the holder will lose the right that comes with warrants. The second feature includes a fixed price. Usually, both parties agree to this price at the start of the contract.

The fixed price that comes with warrants makes them a tool to avoid any risks. In this context, this price is the amount the investor can buy or sell the underlying security. Furthermore, warrants come with various other features, although they don’t apply to all. For example, American warrants allow exercise at any time before the maturity date. However, European warrants only do so on the expiration date.

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In essence, warrants are very similar to options. However, both of them have some differences that can differentiate them. Firstly, warrants come from a company rather than third parties. Every company issues its own warrants. However, options come listed on exchanges. The underlying company does not contribute to these transactions. In most cases, stock warrants are more beneficial in the long term compared to options.

Overall, warrants are instruments issued by companies to investors. These instruments allow the holder to buy or sell a security in the future for a specific price. However, they also come with an expiration date which dictates when or how these options will apply. Warrants come in several variants, which dictate the terms and conditions of the contract.

How does a Warrant work?

A warrant is an instrument that acts similar to options in many aspects. Companies may have several reasons why they will provide these instruments. For example, a company may issue a warrant to attract more investments for an offered stock or bond. This way, they can obtain better terms on the underlying security. In this context, the warrant will provide a potential source of capital in the future.

Similarly, companies also use warrants when they foresee a potential bankruptcy in the future. In this case, the reason for issuing a warrant is similar to the above. Companies will want to use warrants as a source of capital in the future. However, these can be riskier for the investors. Similarly, these warrants can create instant gains or losses that can be highly critical.

Warrants come from the underlying company itself rather than third parties issuing them. It is one of the primary factors that differentiate these instruments from options. However, warrants are also more dilutive in comparison. As mentioned, these instruments come with the right to buy stock or other securities in the future. When an investor uses this option, they receive newly issued stock from the company.

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For that reason, warrants can be more dilutive. However, they are not the same as stock. Warrants do not come with the same features that equity instruments do. For example, these instruments do not offer dividends or the right to vote. If investors exercise the option to exchange the underlying warrant, they can get all these benefits.

Lastly, warrants come with two primary variants. These include call and put warrants. Of these, the former comes with the right to buy a specified number of securities in the future. On the other hand, the latter involves the right to sell back securities to the underlying company. When a company issues warrants, they come with a warrant certificate.

What is the Accounting for Issuance of Warrants?

As mentioned above, accounting for warrants involves two steps. The first is when a company issues these instruments to investors. For this process, the company creates an equity instrument in its accounts. Accounting standards require companies to measure this transaction at the fair value of the equity instrument issued. However, that may not be possible in some cases.

Therefore, companies can also measure the transaction at the fair value of the consideration received in exchange. This requirement may also apply to situations where companies do not get paid in exchange for the warrants. In some cases, companies may also pay their suppliers in warrants. Therefore, the determination of the fair value may be challenging.

The second stage in warrants is when the investor chooses to exercise them. In that case, the company must remove the balance from the warrant account. Instead, it must recognize the amount in the share capital and share premium account. This transaction assumes the company issues stock in exchange for the warrants.

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However, investors may also choose not to exercise the stock warrant. In that case, the company cannot remove the expense or asset recognized in exchange for the warrant. However, this treatment is the same as when the investor exercises the option. In either case, companies can only modify the warrant account.

What are the journal entries for the Issuance of Warrants?

The journal entries for the issuance of warrants are straightforward. As mentioned, it requires the company to recognize warrants in its accounts in exchange for compensation. The value for this transaction will depend on the fair value of that compensation or the fair value of the equity instruments. In either case, the journal entries will remain the same, as follows.

DateParticularsDrCr
 Asset or ExpenseXXXX 
 Warrants XXXX

Once the investor chooses to exercise the options, the journal entries will be as follows.

DateParticularsDrCr
 WarrantsXXXX 
 Share Capital XXXX

In the above case, the warrants may also raise additional finance above the share’s par value. Therefore, the company must also adjust the share premium account.

Example

A company, ABC Co., issues stock warrants to investors. The compensation received in exchange for these warrants is $10,000. Similarly, these warrants allow the investor to purchase ABC Co.’s shares in the future for a reduced price. Regardless of the exercise options, the journal entries for the issuance of warrants will be as follows.

DateParticularsDrCr
 Cash$10,000 
 Stock warrants $10,000

Conclusion

Warrants are financial instruments that come with the option to buy or sell securities at a fixed price in the future. These instruments come with an expiration date, which dictates the time until which holders can exercise them. Usually, accounting for the issuance of warrants is straightforward. This process involves recognizing the compensation received in exchange for creating a balance in the warrant’s account.