Has Goodwill Accounting Gone Bad?
54 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2009 Last revised: 27 Jan 2017
Date Written: January 23, 2017
Prior to SFAS 142, goodwill was subject to periodic amortization and a recoverability-based impairment test. SFAS 142 eliminates periodic amortization and imposes a fair-value-based impairment test. We examine the impact of this standard on the accounting for and valuation of goodwill. Our results indicate that the new standard has resulted in relatively inflated goodwill balances and untimely impairments. We also find that investors do not appear to fully anticipate the untimely nature of post-SFAS 142 goodwill impairments. Overall, our results suggest that, in practice, some managers have exploited the discretion afforded by SFAS 142 to delay goodwill impairments, causing earnings and stock prices to be temporarily inflated.
Keywords: goodwill impairment, SFAS 142, accounting discretion, fair value accounting, resource misallocation
JEL Classification: G14, M41, M48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation