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1 September 2001 Financial Analysts Journal Volume 57, Issue 5

Goodwill Amortization and the Usefulness of Earnings

  1. Ross Jennings
  2. Marc J. LeClere
  3. Robert B. Thompson

This study provides evidence of the effect of goodwill amortization on the usefulness of earnings data as an indicator of share value for a large sample of publicly traded companies over the 1993–98 period. This issue is of special interest because the Financial Accounting Standards Board recently adopted new accounting standards that eliminate the systematic amortization of goodwill in favor of a requirement to review goodwill for impairment when circumstances warrant. We found that earnings before goodwill amortization explain significantly more of the observed distribution of share prices than earnings after goodwill amortization and that when share valuations are based on earnings alone, goodwill amortization simply adds noise to the measure. These results suggest that eliminating goodwill amortization from the computation of net income will not reduce its usefulness to investors and analysts as a summary indicator of share value.

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