Accounting Ch-Ch-Changes

More research, less noiz.

Topic

The Standard

Issue Date

Effective Date1

Our Take

Sector(s) Likely to be Most Impacted

Our Most Recent Research

Pensions: Disclosures

Disclosure Framework: Changes to the Disclosure Requirements for Defined Benefit Plans (ASU 2018-14)

August 28, 2018

December 15, 2020
(1Q 2021)

What’s Changin’: Additions and eliminations to existing pension/OPEB disclosures, including a new disclosure on drivers of significant gains/losses from Pension/OPEB plans and the removal of disclosure on the impact of a 1% change in health care cost trends.

Impact: A net negative to transparency. We expect accounting fluff for the new disclosures on significant gains and losses related to pension/OPEB plans (e.g. changes in interest rates and mortality rates). We’re also disappointed to see the removal of disclosure on deferred gains/losses expected to be reversed out of AOCI and the effect of a 1% change in health care cost trends, both were useful in forecasting pension/OPEB expense. Sad!

  • Communication Services

  • Consumer Discretionary

  • Industrials

Fair Value: Disclosures

Disclosures Framework: Changes to the Disclosure Requirements for Fair Value Measurement (ASU 2018-13)

August 28, 2018

December 15, 2020
(1Q 2021)

What’s Changin’: Additions and eliminations to existing fair value disclosures, including a new disclosure on movements in OCI from level 3 assets/liabilities and the removal of disclosure on the valuation process for level 3 assets/liabilities.

Impact: All about that transparency. Insight into changes to OCI should help investors better understand the potential impact to the income statement and future cash flows. The removal of valuation process description for level 3 assets/liabilities (the most difficult to value stuff) is partially offset by a new requirement to disclose the range and wtd. average of “significant unobservable inputs” used to value level 3 assets/liabilities (e.g., discount rate used in cash flow model).

  • Consumer Discretionary

  • Financials

  • Industrials

Costs for Episodic TV Series

Intangibles—Goodwill and Other: Improvements to Accounting for Episodic Television Series (ASU 2019-02)

March 6, 2019

December 15, 2019
(1Q 2020)

What’s Changin’: Similar to guidance for film production costs, episodic content production costs are capitalized (and amortized) without being subject to a constraint.

Impact: Capitalizing more costs means a bigger balance sheet and likely a temporary boost to earnings.

  • Consumer Discretionary

  • Information Technology

Cloud Computing Costs

Customer’s Accounting for Fees Paid in a Cloud Computing Arrangement (ASU 2015-05)

August 29, 2018

December 15, 2019
(1Q 2020)

What’s Changin’: Cloud computing implementation costs (e.g. customizing software to customer’s needs) are eligible for capitalization. Under Old GAAP, such costs are only eligible for capitalization if a customer acquires the software license (which doesn’t happen with cloud computing arrangements).

Impact: Temporary boost to margins and potential smoother earnings profile. Also provides a boost to EBITDA and maybe non-GAAP earnings (for those that add back amortization).

  • Consumer Discretionary

  • Communication Services

  • Information Technology

Goodwill Impairment Testing

Intangibles—Goodwill and Other: Simplifying the Test for Goodwill Impairment (ASU 2017-04, Topic 350)

January 26, 2017

December 15, 2019
(1Q 2020)

What’s Changin’: Step 2 of the goodwill impairment test is eliminated. Under Topic 350, if the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying value, the difference between the two is the impairment charge (up to the amount of goodwill on the balance sheet).

Impact:Impairments should happen faster and amounts could differ from Old GAAP.

  • Financials

  • Health Care

  • Industrials

  • Information Technology

Credit Losses

Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments (ASU 2016-13, Topic 326)

June 16, 2016

December 15, 2019
(1Q 2020)

What’s Changin’: Companies will book an allowance for loan losses based on the expected credit losses (CECL = Current Expected Credit Losses), meaning the potential recognition of a loss and a reduction in carrying value of a loan on Day 1. No more waiting until the loss is “probable”. Also applies to debt securities, trade receivables, etc.

Impact: Expect increased loan loss reserves, which will put pressure on earnings and book value.

  • Consumer Discretionary

  • Financials (notably Banks)

  • Industrials

Hedge Accounting

Derivatives and Hedging (ASU 2017-12, Topic 815)

August 28, 2017

December 15, 2018
(1Q 2019)

What’s Changin’: Easier to get hedge accounting treatment as the accounting rules are “simplified". Other changes include no longer requiring companies to separately measure and record hedge ineffectiveness. All changes in the fair value of derivatives eventually show up on the same income statement line item as hedged item.

Impact: Smoother earnings and fewer non-GAAP adjustments. Watch out for more hedging losses/gains hiding in OCI and more earnings management.

  • Energy

  • Financials

  • Industrials

  • Materials

Leases

Leases (ASU 2016-02, Topic 842)

February 25, 2016

December 15, 2018
(1Q 2019)

What’s Changin’: Most leases (excluding those with terms of one year or less) are coming on the balance sheet. No change to the income statement as operating leases will result in rent expense and finance leases (Topic 842’s version of capital leases) will result in interest expense and amortization.

Impact: Look for balance sheets to grow (the amounts may surprise you). Minimal expected impact on earnings.

  • Communication Services

  • Consumer Discretionary (notably Retail)

  • Industrials (notably Airlines)

Cash Flows

Classification of Certain Cash Receipts and Cash Payments (ASU 2016-15, Topic 230)

August 26, 2016

December 15, 2017
(1Q 2018)

What’s Changin’: New guidance that clarifies the classification and location of specific cash receipts/payments in statement of cash flows. Most notably, moving some of the proceeds received from receivable securitizations (the beneficial interest portion) from operating to investing cash flow.

Impact: Potential changes to cash flow from ops, free cash flow, free cash conversion, etc. Could see more non-GAAP cash flow metrics.

  • Communication Services

  • Consumer Discretionary

  • Financials (notably Banks)

  • Industrials

Financial Instruments

Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities (ASU 2016-01)

January 5, 2016

December 15, 2017
(1Q 2018)

What’s Changin’: Changes in the fair value of equity securities (typically where company owns < 20%) now run through earnings. For non-marketable equity securities (i.e. pre-IPO), companies can choose to apply a new valuation method similar to cost. Changes in the fair value of liabilities (if elected) due to company’s own credit risk go to OCI.

Impact: Increased earnings volatility and more non-GAAP adjustments (watch out for those that only add back losses) for companies that invest in equities. It’s the opposite (less volatility, less non-GAAP) for own credit marks on liabilities.

  • Financials

  • Information Technology

Definition of a Business

Clarifying the Definition of a Business (ASU 2017-01, Topic 805)

January 5, 2017

December 15, 2017
(1Q 2018)

What’s Changin’: Narrows the definition of a business, which is used to determine whether a transaction is an asset acquisition or business combination.

Impact: Expect more transactions to be treated as asset acquisitions. Meaning less goodwill (less accretive), less disclosure but more deal costs capitalized.

  • Energy

  • Health Care

  • Information Technology

Pensions: Income Statement

Improving the Presentation of Net Periodic Pension Costand Net Periodic Postretirement Benefit Cost (ASU 2017-07, Topic 715)

March 10, 2017

December 15, 2017
(1Q 2018)

What’s Changin’: Only service cost stays in operating income while the remaining pieces (e.g., interest cost, expected return, amortization of gains/losses/prior service) need to go somewhere else. Additionally, only service cost is eligible for capitalization as part of inventory or PP&E.

Impact: Changes to operating and gross margins.

  • Communication Services

  • Consumer Discretionary

  • Industrials

    Contract Costs (e.g. sales commissions)

    Other Assets and Deferred Costs (ASU 2014-09 subtopic ASC 340-40)

    May 28, 2014

    December 15, 2017
    (1Q 2018)

    What’s Changin’: Accompanying Topic 606 (new revenue standard), ASC 340-40 brought changes to accounting for contract costs, resulting in most incremental costs of obtaining a contract (e.g. sales commissions) being capitalized.

    Impact: Capitalizing contract costs means bigger balance sheets and a boost to margins.

    • Industrials

    • Information Technology (notably Software)

        Revenue Recognition

        Revenue from Contracts with Customers (ASU 2014-09, Topic 606)

        May 28, 2014

        December 15, 2017
        (1Q 2018)

        What’s Changin’: One revenue standard for all sectors/industries. New five step process that determines the amount and timing of revenue recognition. Contracts are broken into separate components (“performance obligations”) and revenue is recognized when “control” is transferred to the customer. New disclosures should help you assess management judgment calls (we have not been too impressed so far).

        Impact: Causes revenue to be recognized faster in many cases (for others it slowed) and the patterns become lumpier for some and smoother for others. Brings more judgment to the topline.

        • Consumer Discretionary (notably Retail)

        • Health Care

        • Industrials

        • Information Technology (notably Software)

          Stock Comp Tax Benefits

          Improvements to Employee Share-Based Payment Accounting (ASU 2016-09, Topic 718)

          March 30, 2016

          December 15, 2016
          (1Q 2017)

          What’s Changin’: All stock comp related tax benefits now run through the income statement and cash flow from operations (no more “excess” tax benefit).

          Impact: Increase in earnings and operating cash flow volatility. Low quality boost to earnings and free cash flow. Higher diluted share count.

          • Health Care

          • Information Technology

          Deferred Taxes

          Balance Sheet Classification of Deferred Taxes (ASU 2015-17, Topic 740)

          November 20, 2015

          December 15, 2016
          (1Q 2017)

          What’s Changin’: All deferred tax assets and liabilities are now classified as non-current.

          Impact: Reduction in current assets/liabilities throws a few metrics/ratios out of whack (e.g., working capital, current ratio, operating cash flow ratio, etc.).


          1. For public companies' fiscal periods (i.e. 10-K’s) beginning after the listed effective date, including interim reporting periods (i.e. 10-Q’s).

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