free investment advice logo

Here's the deal: You may read the information on the site for free and ask questions. As and when I have the time I'll answer the questions on the website and add new articles. Please do not consider it to be advice - the only free investment advice is to apply your own mind. If you are worried about your investments, I am willing to have a look and improve it. If you are destitute I will try to help free of charge (but you join at the back of the queue). If you are not destitute then email me and we can agree a lower fee (percentage terms, repeating monthly, is fine) than you are currently charged. I have limited time available, and will prioritise the work accordingly, so please be patient. Email me at invest@freeinvestmentadvice.org detailing the situation for which you'd like advice. Rob Baker

Purchase Accounting Adjustments

leave a comment

Serious investors should fully understand the distortions created in the accounts when purchasing a company. In particular, it's common for the inventory, fixed assets and intangible assets to be recorded at fair value in the books of the acquirer; so that there's no change in the net assets of the acquirer (e.g. the value of the acquisition equals the value of the cash paid).

Where it gets really interesting is the subsequent impact on the income statements of the acquirer:

Warren Buffett's take

This is why the the main operating expense numbers Warren Buffett reports do not conform to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles)... "In particular, they exclude some purchase-accounting items, primarily the amortization of certain intangible assets. We present the data in this manner because Charlie and I believe the adjusted numbers more accurately reflect the real expenses and profits of the businesses aggregated in the table...serious investors should understand the disparate nature of intangible assets: Some truly deplete over time while others never lose value. With software, for example, amortization charges are very real expenses. Charges against other intangibles such as the amortization of customer relationships, however, arise through purchase-accounting rules and are clearly not real expenses. GAAP accounting draws no distinction between the two types of charges. Both, that is, are recorded as expenses when calculating earnings – even though from an investor's viewpoint they could not be more different. In the GAAP-compliant figures we show on page 29, amortization charges of $600 million for the companies included in this section are deducted as expenses. We would call about 20% of these "real" – and indeed that is the portion we have included in the table above – and the rest not. This difference has become significant because of the many acquisitions we have made. "Non-real" amortization expense also looms large at some of our major investees. IBM has made many small acquisitions in recent years and now regularly reports "adjusted operating earnings," a non-GAAP figure that excludes certain purchase-accounting adjustments. Analysts focus on this number, as they should.

A "non-real" amortization charge at Wells Fargo, however, is not highlighted by the company and never, to my knowledge, has been noted in analyst reports. The earnings that Wells Fargo reports are heavily burdened by an "amortization of core deposits" charge, the implication being that these deposits are disappearing at a fairly rapid clip. Yet core deposits regularly increase. The charge last year was about $1.5 billion. In no sense, except GAAP accounting, is this whopping charge an expense."

blog comments powered by Disqus

Due to regulations, our emails and this entire website should be considered as having been set up for entertainment purposes alone. Expect errors and omissions. Investment in shares and other financial instruments should be conducted by professional investment experts only. Any use of the information on my websites, emails and newsletters is at your own risk, and by using it you agree that the owners of our websites, authors and associated parties wont be held liable for any losses suffered as a result of using the information. None of the information should be construed as being advice. Our newsletters, articles, discussions and website are not an offering for any investment. It represents only our and others' opinions. Any views expressed are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed in any way as an offer, an endorsement, or inducement to invest. Illustrations, forecasts or hypothetical data are not guaranteed and are provided for illustrative purposes only. There are risks involved in buying or selling a financial product. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. Any investment values given are not guaranteed. Investment returns can be volatile. When investing there is always the risk of losing all or a substantial amount of your investment, as well as the risk of illiquidity. There may be advertisements on some pages on this website, and we may earn income from these advertisements. We may earn commission on products invested in or annuities purchased. We cannot attest to the accuracy of the material presented here, and opinions expressed may be changed without prior notice. In any event our liability will be limited to R1, and any court cases must take place in Cape Town. Free Investment Advice is the trading name of South Africa Travel Online CC, a licensed Financial Service Provider (FSP number 43555). You may contact us at invest@freeinvestmentadvice.org