Goodwill Impairment

See Also:
Goodwill Accounting Term
Fair Market Value
Asset Market Value vs Asset Book Value

Goodwill Impairment

Goodwill Impairment Definition

Goodwill impairment is goodwill that is now lower in value than at the time of purchase. Goodwill is an intangible asset that sellers are willing to pay for; brand, reputation, a large customer base, strong customer service, and important patents all increase a company’s goodwill. Many contrary factors contribute to impairment of goodwill such as negative publicity from high-ranking company officials, unpopular changes in product line, or a decrease in customer loyalty or brand recognition.

How to Calculate Goodwill Impairment

Goodwill impairment occurs when the goodwill value exceeds the fair value (the estimated value of a company’s assets and liabilities).

Goodwill Impairment Example

Let’s say there is a athletic clothing company called Freeform that has $20,000,000 in annual sales and a reported Goodwill value of $10,000,000 due to an exceptional product, consistent customer service, and a loyal fan base. The following year a larger athletic company called AltaCorp purchases Freeform for $30,000,000 (combining the sales and Goodwill values).

Unfortunately, after the purchase is complete, sales fall 50% the consecutive year because AltaCorp’s CEO has to be removed for disparaging comments made towards his female customers. Furthermore, Adidas unfolds a new campaign tarketing young women and gains a cult following that competes with Freeform’s largest customer base. Because of the drop in sales and the AltaCorp’s reputation, as well as the increase of competition in the marketplace, Freeform’s fair market value drops to $15,000,000. Now, the company is worth less than AltaCorp paid for it, so the Goodwill must be reduced, which reduces the overall Total Assets. This is a significant hit to AltaCorp as Goodwill can represent a large portion of the company’s net worth.

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Goodwill Impairment Analysis

It is important to note that Goodwill Impairment is relative and can be difficult to calculate; in most cases, it’s in the eye of the buyer. Goodwill should be tested annually against the fair value to manage a buyer or seller’s expectations if the company is undergoing business valuation.

Goodwill impairment gained wider attention in the 21st century after it was discovered that many companies had unrealistically increased their goodwill which resulted in unaccurate valuation of their company. Now, scricter accounting standards exist to monitor and calculate goodwill.

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