Is COVID-19 a Triggering Event for Impairment Testing?

The longest-working bull current market due to the fact Earth War II started in March 2009, and above the earlier couple a long time, a lot of debated “when, not if,” a downturn would arise. But no one particular could have predicted that a world pandemic would lead to unprecedented disruption and dislocation in the cash marketplaces and the fastest stop to a bull current market in history.

As of March 23, the S&P 500 experienced fallen just about thirty{d5f2c26e8a2617525656064194f8a7abd2a56a02c0e102ae4b29477986671105} from its February highs. Though the marketplaces have recovered to some degree, a lot of industries have been hit challenging. Reporting entities will now need to take into account whether or not the impression of COVID-19 and the resultant current market downturn constitutes a triggering event for reasons of goodwill, intangible asset, and preset-asset impairment tests.

Just before we delve into opportunity triggering gatherings, we assumed a speedy recap on impairment tests prerequisites beneath U.S. Frequently Acknowledged Accounting Concepts (GAAP) for a variety of asset courses would be beneficial.

Impairment Testing Demands
Goodwill Indefinite-Lived Intangibles Extended-Lived Property (which includes Finite-Lived Intangibles)
Suitable Steerage ASC 350 ASC 350 ASC 360
Testing Demands  

On a yearly basis and on triggering event (for private organizations electing accounting option, only on triggering event)

On a yearly basis and on triggering event On triggering event
Amount of Testing Reporting unit (functioning section or ingredient) Particular person asset Asset team (cheapest level of independent hard cash flow)
Method of Testing  

Just one step on a good worth (e.g., discounted hard cash flow) foundation


Just one step on a good worth (e.g., discounted hard cash flow) foundation


Two methods – 1st step on an undiscounted hard cash flow foundation, 2nd step on a good worth foundation

Order of Testing (Property Held and Used) 3rd Very first 2nd
Order of Testing (Property Held for Sale) 2nd Very first 3rd


Triggering Functions

Triggering gatherings differ for goodwill/indefinite-lived intangibles and long-lived property. That reported, an impairment of goodwill or indefinite-lived intangibles may well induce the need to perform impairment tests for long-lived property. Additionally, and though not particularly determined in ASC 360, substantial entity-level gatherings may well induce impairment tests for long-lived property. Underneath are illustrations of triggering gatherings for goodwill/indefinite-lived intangibles and long-lived property, respectively.

Goodwill and Indefinite-Lived Intangibles Extended-Lived Property (which includes Finite-Lived Intangibles)

Macroeconomic disorders (deterioration in typical economic disorders)


Sizeable lessen in current market cost of a long-lived asset (asset team)

Business and current market concerns (deterioration in the surroundings in which a corporation operates) Sizeable adverse transform in the extent or way in which a long-lived asset (asset team) is becoming employed or in its actual physical problem

Price variables (increases in raw supplies, labor, and so forth.)


Sizeable adverse transform in legal variables or in the business enterprise local weather


General money efficiency (destructive or declining hard cash flows, decrease in precise or prepared income or earnings)


Accumulation of charges noticeably in excess of the volume originally predicted for the acquisition or construction of a long-lived asset team

Other related entity-specific gatherings (modifications in administration, essential personnel, system, and so forth.) Current-interval, historic, or projected functioning or hard cash-flow loss related with the use of a long-lived asset team

Functions influencing a reporting unit (transform in composition of web property, expectation of disposing all or a part of the reporting unit)

Expectation of disposing a long-lived asset or asset team before the stop of its practical daily life
Sustained lessen in share cost (in complete conditions or relative to friends)


Certainly, specific triggering gatherings detailed above will be a lot more related to the current surroundings than many others. With respect to COVID-19, we believe that organizations ought to particularly take into account the following opportunity triggering gatherings.

Macroeconomic disorders this sort of as a deteriorating on in typical economic disorders, limitations on accessing cash, fluctuations in overseas exchange prices, or other developments in equity and credit rating marketplaces

Obviously, COVID-19 has impacted macroeconomic disorders globally. Equity marketplaces have found dramatic decreases in worth in a quick interval of time. We have also witnessed unprecedented volatility in the world marketplaces it is hard to forecast how marketplaces will glance tomorrow, allow on your own one particular to two months from now.

Governments have begun to intervene as they try to prevent a extended economic downturn. From a U.S. viewpoint, it is unknown whether or not or when endeavours to “flatten the curve” will be successful and allow for the place to get back again to business enterprise as standard. As this continues to unfold and a larger info established is obtainable for examination, we will have a better perception as to the quick-, medium-, and long-phrase impacts on the world economy.

Business and current market concerns consist of aspects this sort of as a deterioration in the surroundings in which an entity operates, an enhanced competitive surroundings, a decrease in current market-dependent multiples or metrics (thought of in the two complete conditions and relative to friends), a transform in the current market for an entity’s products or expert services, or a regulatory or political growth

Though just about all organizations have been affected in some way by COVID-19, specific industries have been a lot more adversely impacted than many others. The airline industry was down just about 60{d5f2c26e8a2617525656064194f8a7abd2a56a02c0e102ae4b29477986671105} in the last thirty day period, centered on the S&P 500 Airlines Business Index. Cruise line shares are down as considerably as 87{d5f2c26e8a2617525656064194f8a7abd2a56a02c0e102ae4b29477986671105} yr-to-day. In addition, bar and restaurant shares are down above 40{d5f2c26e8a2617525656064194f8a7abd2a56a02c0e102ae4b29477986671105} in the last thirty day period, centered on the Dow Jones U.S. Restaurants & Bars Index, with individual restaurant shares down as considerably as ninety{d5f2c26e8a2617525656064194f8a7abd2a56a02c0e102ae4b29477986671105}. Conversely, specific organizations have found an maximize in demand for their products and expert services during this time.

With this context, it is very clear specific industries will need to take into account impairment tests quicker than many others and probable prior to their once-a-year tests day. In identifying whether or not a triggering event has transpired, organizations ought to take into account all information and situations, which includes the around- and medium-phrase outlook for demand for products and expert services in their distinct industry.

General money efficiency features this sort of variables this sort of as destructive or declining hard cash flows or a decrease in precise or prepared income or earnings when compared with precise and projected success of related prior periods

In light-weight of the COVID-19 disaster, a lot of organizations have by now warned that earnings will be lessen than forecasted. Public organizations symbolizing a wide spectrum of industries have noticeably decreased or taken off earnings advice. It will probable just take some time for organizations to evaluate the impression of COVID-19 on their specific business enterprise and to update their forecasts to account for it. As soon as organizations are ready to evaluate impacts to precise and forecasted success, they ought to take into account whether or not this sort of impacts depict a triggering event.

In executing so, the threshold for identifying whether or not a triggering event has transpired may well differ by reporting entity. For case in point, reporting entities that consummated a recent material acquisition or experienced a recent event of goodwill impairment are at a lot more hazard. Any lessen in long run hard cash flow expectations would probable result in an incremental impairment as opposed to a reporting entity that passed its most recent impairment check by a wide margin.

If relevant, a sustained lessen in share cost (take into account in the two complete conditions and relative to friends)

To be very clear, a decrease in the over-all inventory current market is not, in and of alone, essentially a triggering event. The inventory current market can be really volatile, and the intent of the advice is not to induce a wave of impairments just about every time the inventory current market swings. This is why ASC 350 particularly takes advantage of the phrase “sustained lessen.”

However, the advice does not determine or prescribe what is intended by “sustained.” Specified organizations and industries may well by now be ready to assert, with a higher level of self esteem, that their current share cost declines will be “sustained,” but we do not have the requisite info established to ascertain whether or not this will be accurate for the over-all current market or considerably less directly impacted organizations and industries.

Irrespective of whether or not or not it is identified that an immediate triggering event has transpired, it is vital that community organizations consist of acceptable disclosures as to the pitfalls introduced by COVID-19 and the current economic surroundings. To the extent that this sort of disorders persist and become an impairment induce, the SEC will expect that organizations have supplied an acceptable level of foreshadowing in their community filings.

Steve Hills is a taking care of director and head of the technological accounting consulting exercise at Stout,a world advisory firm. Dave Lindstrom is a director in the valuation advisory team.

contributor, goodwill, impairment tests, Stout, triggering event