Do Goodwill Impairments by European Firms Provide Useful Information to Investors?
Forthcoming, Accounting in Europe
34 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2016 Last revised: 26 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 19, 2016
In 2004, the IASB adopted the mandatory annual impairment-test-only of goodwill (IAS 36) instead of amortization of goodwill. We present and discuss the academic literature regarding the association between the goodwill impairment, under this new standard, and the revision of investors’ expectations about a company’s future cash flows. The academic literature highlights that, in some specific cases, IAS 36 may help investors to revise their expectations. More precisely, goodwill impairment seems relevant when: a) there is strong asymmetry of information between managers and investors, b) managers disclose detailed information in the notes regarding their own assumptions about future cash flows, and 3) managers do not manage earnings and provide reliable information to investors. In many cases, goodwill impairment is probably useless for investors because they are able to revise their expectations based on public information, or because they cannot trust the accounting numbers and additional information in the notes about the impairment test, which are provided by (undisciplined) managers. More research is, however, needed to understand in which circumstances impairment-test-only is more useful, as well in which cases it is less adequate. Our analysis relates to the current post-implementation review and should be useful to standard-setters. Before any modification, we argue that standard-setters should carefully consider the economic and the institutional contexts when issuing a new accounting standard.
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