Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Causes and Consequences of Goodwill Impairment Losses

54 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2004 Last revised: 13 Feb 2011

Zining Li

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Accounting

Pervin K. Shroff

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management

Ramgopal Venkataraman

University of Texas at Arlington

Ivy Zhang

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Date Written: May 1, 2010

Abstract

The paper examines the reaction of market participants to the announcement of a goodwill impairment loss, the nature of the information conveyed by the loss, and whether a cause of goodwill impairment can be traced back to overpayment for targets at the time of prior acquisitions. We use a comprehensive sample of goodwill impairment announcements made under the regulatory regimes of SFAS 121 and SFAS 142 and explore how the information content changes over different reporting regimes. Our evidence suggests that investors as well as financial analysts revise their expectations downward on the announcement of a goodwill impairment loss and the downward revision is related to the magnitude of the loss. We find that the negative impact of the loss is significant under all three reporting regimes, i.e., pre-SFAS-142, transition period and post-SFAS-142, though it is lower in the post period. We further show that the impairment loss serves as a leading indicator of a decline in future profitability due to a slow-down in sales and/or higher operating costs. Our tests also reveal that proxies for overpayment for targets at the time of prior acquisitions can predict the subsequent goodwill impairment. From our analysis of firms with potentially impaired goodwill that do not report impairment, we find no evidence that market participants revise their expectations at the time of revelation of a zero impairment loss, especially in the post-SFAS-142 period. Indirect evidence suggests that some of these firms may have used their managerial discretion to avoid taking an impairment loss, consistent with the argument in Ramanna (2008) and Ramanna and Watts (2010) that the use of unverifiable fair values under SFAS 142 may lead to the opportunistic avoidance of impairment charges.

Keywords: SFAS 142, write-offs, acquisition, overpayment

JEL Classification: M41, M44, G34

Suggested Citation

Li, Zining and Shroff, Pervin K. and Venkataraman, Ramgopal and Zhang, Ivy, Causes and Consequences of Goodwill Impairment Losses (May 1, 2010). AAA 2005 FARS Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=590908 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.590908

Zining Li

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Accounting ( email )

271 19th Avenue South
Room 645 Mgt. Econ. Building
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Pervin K. Shroff

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-626-1570 (Fax)

Ramgopal Venkataraman (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Arlington ( email )

415 S West St Apt no 205
Arlington, TX 76019
United States

Ivy Zhang

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
2,746
Rank
3,282
Abstract Views
13,682