Goodwill impairment factors in Sweden : - A study of Large Cap and Mid Cap firms in 2006-2012

University essay from Jönköping University/Internationella Handelshögskolan; Jönköping University/Internationella Handelshögskolan

Abstract: Background: The recent decades there has been a big shift in the focus of accounting standards, going from mostly being based on historical cost to being more based on fair value. How to account for goodwill has been widely discussed for many years. Assets, such as goodwill, that are never traded individually are difficult to assign a fair value to. This opens up for discretionary behavior and earnings management. One of the foundations of financial reporting is that it should contribute to informed decisions, thus the numbers need to be accurate. Goodwill has become an increasing part of firms’ balance sheets, making up 19,3% of the assets of firms listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. Purpose: This study’s purpose is to examine how impairment factors affect discretionary goodwill impairment decisions in Swedish Large Cap and Mid Cap firms. The first part is to examine the occurrence of goodwill impairment, and the second part is to examine the size of goodwill impairment losses. Method: The study examines Swedish Large Cap and Mid Cap firms during the years 2006-2012. After excluding some companies for various reasons, we are left with a sample size of 483 firm years. First a logistic regression is run, to investigate what indicators causes firms to make goodwill impairments. The concepts examined are CEO Change, Big Bath, Income Smoothing and Leverage, operationalized into variables and checked to see if they have a relationship with the dependent variable goodwill impairment. Firm size, change in return on assets, change in sales and finally industry are used as control variables. The second regression examines what influences the amount of goodwill impaired, looking at the same independent variables as in the first one, using a censored tobit regression. Conclusion: The result shows that two variables, Leverage and Big Bath have a significant influence on the occurrence of goodwill impairment. Both variables show a negative influence on the dependent variable, meaning that when they increase, goodwill impairment are less likely to happen. Accepting a lower level of significance, CEO change showed a positive influence on goodwill impairment.When looking at the 91 firm years when impairment occurs, we see that two variables have a significant influence on the size of the goodwill impairments, that is Leverage and Big Bath.

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