Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
|12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2017
|Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
|Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
(3) Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Cash and Cash Equivalents
Cash equivalents consist of investments which are readily convertible into cash and have maturities of three months or less at the time of acquisition.
Receivables are reflected net of an allowance for doubtful accounts and sales returns. Such allowance aggregated $12 million and $9 million at December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively. Activity in the year ended December 31, 2017 included an increase of $57 million of bad debt charged to expense and $55 million of write-offs. Activity in the year ended December 31, 2016 included an increase of $56 million of bad debt charged to expense and $53 million of write-offs. Activity in the year ended December 31, 2015 included an increase of $47 million of bad debt charged to expense and $49 million of write-offs.
All marketable equity and debt securities held by the Company are classified as available-for-sale (“AFS”) and are carried at fair value generally based on quoted market prices. U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) permit entities to choose to measure many financial instruments, such as AFS securities, and certain other items at fair value and to recognize the changes in fair value of such instruments in the entity’s statement of operations (the “fair value option”). Under other relevant GAAP, entities were required to recognize changes in fair value of AFS securities in the balance sheet in accumulated other comprehensive earnings. Liberty previously had entered into economic hedges for certain of its AFS securities (although such instruments are not accounted for as fair value hedges by the Company). Changes in the fair value of these economic hedges were reflected in Liberty’s statement of operations as unrealized gains (losses). In order to better match the changes in fair value of the subject AFS securities and the changes in fair value of the corresponding economic hedges in the Company’s financial statements, Liberty elected the fair value option for certain of its AFS securities (“Fair Value Option Securities”). Accordingly, changes in the fair value of Fair Value Option Securities, as determined by quoted market prices, are reported in realized and unrealized gain (losses) on financial instruments in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations. The total value of AFS equity securities for which the Company has elected the fair value option aggregated $467 million and $489 million as of December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Other investments in which the Company’s ownership interest is less than 20% and are not considered marketable securities are carried at cost.
For those investments in affiliates in which the Company has the ability to exercise significant influence, the equity method of accounting is used. Under this method, the investment, originally recorded at cost, is adjusted to recognize the Company’s share of net earnings or losses of the affiliate as they occur rather than as dividends or other distributions are received. Losses are limited to the extent of the Company’s investment in, advances to and commitments for the investee. In the event the Company is unable to obtain accurate financial information from an equity affiliate in a timely manner, the Company records its share of earnings or losses of such affiliate on a lag.
Changes in the Company’s proportionate share of the underlying equity of an equity method investee, which result from the issuance of additional equity securities by such equity investee, are recognized in the statement of operations through the other, net line item. To the extent there is a difference between our ownership percentage in the underlying equity of an equity method investee and our carrying value, such difference is accounted for as if the equity method investee were a consolidated subsidiary.
The Company continually reviews its equity investments and its AFS securities which are not Fair Value Option Securities to determine whether a decline in fair value below the cost basis is other than temporary. The primary factors the Company considers in its determination are the length of time that the fair value of the investment is below the Company’s carrying value; the severity of the decline; and the financial condition, operating performance and near term prospects of the investee. In addition, the Company considers the reason for the decline in fair value, be it general market conditions, industry specific or investee specific; analysts’ ratings and estimates of 12-month share price targets for the investee; changes in stock price or valuation subsequent to the balance sheet date; and the Company’s intent and ability to hold the investment for a period of time sufficient to allow for a recovery in fair value. If the decline in fair value is deemed to be other than temporary, the cost basis of the security is written down to fair value. In situations where the fair value of an investment is not evident due to a lack of a public market price or other factors, the Company uses its best estimates and assumptions to arrive at the estimated fair value of such investment. The Company’s assessment of the foregoing factors involves a high degree of judgment and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from the Company’s estimates and judgments. Writedowns for AFS securities which are not Fair Value Option Securities (as defined below) are included in the consolidated statements of operations as other than temporary declines in fair values of investments. Writedowns for equity method investments are included in share of earnings (losses) of affiliates.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
In January 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued new accounting guidance that is intended to improve the recognition and measurement of financial instruments. The new guidance requires equity investments with readily determinable fair values (except those accounted for under the equity method of accounting or those that result in consolidation) to be measured at fair value with changes in fair value recognized in net income and simplifies the impairment assessment of equity investments without readily determinable fair values by requiring a qualitative assessment to identify impairment. The new standard is effective for the Company for fiscal years and interim periods beginning after December 15, 2017. The Company does not expect this new guidance will have a material impact to its consolidated financial statements or related disclosures.
Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities
All of the Company’s derivatives, whether designated in hedging relationships or not, are recorded on the balance sheet at fair value. If the derivative is designated as a fair value hedge, the changes in the fair value of the derivative and of the hedged item attributable to the hedged risk are recognized in earnings. If the derivative is designated as a cash flow hedge, the effective portions of changes in the fair value of the derivative are recorded in other comprehensive earnings and are recognized in the statement of operations when the hedged item affects earnings. Ineffective portions of changes in the fair value of cash flow hedges are recognized in earnings. If the derivative is not designated as a hedge, changes in the fair value of the derivative are recognized in earnings. None of the Company’s derivatives are currently designated as hedges.
The fair value of certain of the Company’s derivative instruments are estimated using the Black-Scholes model. The Black-Scholes model incorporates a number of variables in determining such fair values, including expected volatility of the underlying security and an appropriate discount rate. The Company obtained volatility rates from pricing services based on the expected volatility of the underlying security over the remaining term of the derivative instrument. A discount rate was obtained at the inception of the derivative instrument and updated each reporting period, based on the Company’s estimate of the discount rate at which it could currently settle the derivative instrument. The Company considered its own credit risk as well as the credit risk of its counterparties in estimating the discount rate. Considerable management judgment was required in estimating the Black-Scholes variables.
Property and Equipment
Property and equipment consisted of the following:
Property and equipment, including significant improvements, is stated at cost. Depreciation is computed using the straight-line method using estimated useful lives. Depreciation expense for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 was $230 million, $186 million and $207 million, respectively.
A portion of the interest on funds borrowed to finance the construction of the Braves ballpark and mixed-use development as well as the launch of SIRIUS XM’s satellites and launch vehicles is capitalized. Capitalized interest is recorded as part of the asset’s cost and depreciated over the asset’s useful life. Capitalized interest costs for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 was approximately $10 million and $8 million, respectively, which related to the construction of the Braves ballpark and mixed-use development during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 and the construction of SIRIUS XM’s satellites during the year ended December 31, 2017.
Intangible assets with estimable useful lives are amortized over their respective estimated useful lives to their estimated residual values, and reviewed for impairment upon certain triggering events. Goodwill and other intangible assets with indefinite useful lives (collectively, “indefinite lived intangible assets”) are not amortized, but instead are tested for impairment at least annually. Our annual impairment assessment of our indefinite-lived intangible assets is performed during the fourth quarter of each year.
In January 2017, the FASB issued new accounting guidance to simplify the measurement of goodwill impairment. Under the new guidance, an entity no longer performs a hypothetical purchase price allocation to measure goodwill impairment. Instead, a goodwill impairment is measured using the difference between the carrying value and the fair value of the reporting unit. The Company early adopted this guidance during the fourth quarter of 2017.
The accounting guidance permits entities to first assess qualitative factors to determine whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount as a basis for determining whether it is necessary to perform the quantitative goodwill impairment test. The accounting guidance also allows entities the option to bypass the qualitative assessment for any reporting unit in any period and proceed directly to the quantitative impairment test. The entity may resume performing the qualitative assessment in any subsequent period.
In evaluating goodwill on a qualitative basis, the Company reviews the business performance of each reporting unit and evaluates other relevant factors as identified in the relevant accounting guidance to determine whether it is more likely than not that an indicated impairment exists for any of our reporting units. The Company considers whether there are any negative macroeconomic conditions, industry specific conditions, market changes, increased competition, increased costs in doing business, management challenges, the legal environments and how these factors might impact company specific performance in future periods. As part of the analysis, the Company also considers fair value determinations for certain reporting units that have been made at various points throughout the current and prior years for other purposes. If based on the qualitative analysis it is more likely than not that an impairment exists, the Company performs the quantitative impairment test.
The quantitative goodwill impairment test compares the estimated fair value of a reporting unit to its carrying value. Developing estimates of fair value requires significant judgments, including making assumptions about appropriate discount rates, perpetual growth rates, relevant comparable market multiples, public trading prices and the amount and timing of expected future cash flows. The cash flows employed in Liberty’s valuation analysis are based on management’s best estimates considering current marketplace factors and risks as well as assumptions of growth rates in future years. There is no assurance that actual results in the future will approximate these forecasts.
The accounting guidance also permits entities to first perform a qualitative assessment to determine whether it is more likely than not that an indefinite-lived intangible asset is impaired. The accounting guidance also allows entities the option to bypass the qualitative assessment for any indefinite-lived intangible asset in any period and proceed directly to the quantitative impairment test. The entity may resume performing the qualitative assessment in any subsequent period. If the qualitative assessment supports that it is more likely than not that the carrying value of the Company’s indefinite-lived intangible assets, other than goodwill, exceeds its fair value, then a quantitative assessment is performed. If the carrying value of an indefinite-lived intangible asset exceeds its fair value, an impairment loss is recognized in an amount equal to that excess.
Impairment of Long-lived Assets
The Company periodically reviews the carrying amounts of its property and equipment and its intangible assets (other than goodwill and indefinite-lived intangibles) to determine whether current events or circumstances indicate that such carrying amounts may not be recoverable. If the carrying amount of the asset group is greater than the expected undiscounted cash flows to be generated by such asset group, an impairment adjustment is to be recognized. Such adjustment is measured by the amount that the carrying value of such asset groups exceeds their fair value. The Company generally measures fair value by considering sale prices for similar assets or by discounting estimated future cash flows using an appropriate discount rate. Considerable management judgment is necessary to estimate the fair value of asset groups. Accordingly, actual results could vary significantly from such estimates. Asset groups to be disposed of are carried at the lower of their financial statement carrying amount or fair value less costs to sell.
The Company reports noncontrolling interests of subsidiaries within equity in the balance sheet and the amount of consolidated net income attributable to the parent and to the noncontrolling interest is presented in the statement of operations. Also, changes in ownership interests in subsidiaries in which the Company maintains a controlling interest are recorded in equity.
Revenue is recognized as follows:
In May 2014, the FASB issued new accounting guidance on revenue from contracts with customers. The new guidance requires an entity to recognize the amount of revenue to which it expects to be entitled for the transfer of promised goods or services to customers. This new guidance also requires additional disclosure about the nature, amount, timing and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from customer contracts, including significant judgments and changes in judgments and assets recognized from costs incurred to obtain or fulfill a contract. In March 2016, the FASB issued additional guidance which clarifies principal versus agent considerations, and in April 2016, the FASB issued further guidance which clarifies the identification of performance obligations and the implementation guidance for licensing. The updated guidance will replace most existing revenue recognition guidance in GAAP when it becomes effective and permits the use of either a full retrospective or modified retrospective transition method. We will adopt this guidance under the modified retrospective transition method effective as of January 1, 2018.
SIRIUS XM has completed its evaluation of the impact of the new guidance on its revenue streams and expects the most significant impact to the classification of Revenue share and certain subsidy payments made to automakers associated with a paid promotional subscription and the impact of the timing of recognition of activation revenue. Under the new standard, the payments associated with a paid promotional subscription will be treated as a reduction to the transaction price rather than as an expense. SIRIUS XM expects this change to reduce subscriber revenue by $90 million, along with a corresponding reduction to revenue share and royalties and subscriber acquisition costs. SIRIUS XM does not expect this change to have a significant impact to its net earnings. Additionally, within the consolidated balance sheets, upon adoption, the amount of revenue share and certain subsidy payments made to automakers associated with a paid promotional subscription will be classified as a liability separate from deferred revenue. SIRIUS XM expects the adjustment will have an immaterial impact to retained earnings upon adoption.
Formula 1 and Braves Holdings have made significant progress toward completing their evaluation of the potential impact from adopting the new guidance on their primary revenue streams. Formula 1 is not expecting a material impact to revenue recognition for its primary revenue streams upon adoption of the new guidance. Braves Holdings expects a change in the timing of recognition of revenue under its long term contracts upon adoption of the new guidance, which we expect to result in an immaterial cumulative effect adjustment to retained earnings. The remaining primary revenue streams for Braves Holdings are not expected to be materially impacted upon adoption of the new guidance. Formula 1 and Braves Holdings continue to finalize the impact of the adoption of this new guidance on their financial statements, policies, controls and procedures.
Cost of Subscriber Services
SIRIUS XM shares a portion of its subscription revenue earned from self-pay subscribers and paid promotional subscribers with certain automakers. The terms of the revenue share agreements vary with each automaker, but are typically based upon the earned audio revenue as reported or gross billed audio revenue. Such shared revenue is recorded as an expense and not as a reduction to revenue.
Programming costs which are for a specified number of events are amortized on an event-by-event basis; programming costs which are for a specified season or include programming through a dedicated channel are amortized over the season or period on a straight-line basis. SIRIUS XM allocates a portion of certain programming costs which are related to sponsorship and marketing activities to selling, general and administrative expense on a straight-line basis over the term of the agreement.
Cost of Formula 1 Revenue
Cost of Formula 1 revenue consists of team payments and hospitality costs, which are principally related to catering and other aspects of the production and delivery of the Paddock Club, and circuit rights’ fees payable under various agreements with race promoters to acquire certain commercial rights at Events, including the right to sell advertising, hospitality and support race opportunities. Other costs include annual Federation Internationale de l’Automobile regulatory fees, advertising and sponsorship commissions and those incurred in the provision and sale of freight, travel and logistical services, F2 and GP3 cars, parts and maintenance services, television production and post-production services, advertising production services and digital and social media activities. These costs are largely variable in nature and relate directly to revenue opportunities.
Subscriber Acquisition Costs
Subscriber acquisition costs consist of costs incurred to acquire new subscribers and include hardware subsidies paid to radio manufacturers, distributors and automakers, including subsidies paid to automakers who include a satellite radio and a prepaid subscription to SIRIUS XM service in the sale or lease price of a new vehicle; subsidies paid for chipsets and certain other components used in manufacturing radios; device royalties for certain radios and chipsets; commissions paid to retailers and automakers as incentives to purchase, install and activate radios; product warranty obligations; freight; and provisions for inventory allowance attributable to inventory consumed in SIRIUS XM’s automaker and retail distribution channels. Subscriber acquisition costs do not include advertising costs, loyalty payments to distributors and dealers of radios and revenue share payments to automakers and retailers of radios.
Subsidies paid to radio manufacturers and automakers are expensed upon installation, shipment, receipt of product or activation and are included in Subscriber acquisition costs because SIRIUS XM is responsible for providing the service to the customers. Commissions paid to retailers and automakers are expensed upon either the sale or activation of radios. Chipsets that are shipped to radio manufacturers and held on consignment are recorded as inventory and expensed as subscriber acquisition costs when placed into production by radio manufacturers. Costs for chipsets not held on consignment are expensed as subscriber acquisition costs when the automaker confirms receipt.
Advertising expense aggregated $311 million, $230 million and $210 million for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively. Advertising costs are primarily attributable to costs incurred by SIRIUS XM. SIRIUS XM’s media-related advertising costs are expensed when advertisements air, and advertising production costs are expensed as incurred. These costs are reflected in selling, general and administrative expenses in the consolidated statements of operations.
As more fully described in note 14, Liberty has granted to its directors, employees and employees of its subsidiaries options and restricted stock to purchase shares of Liberty common stock (collectively, “Awards”). The Company measures the cost of employee services received in exchange for an Award based on the grant-date fair value of the Award, and recognizes that cost over the period during which the employee is required to provide service (usually the vesting period of the Award).
Included in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations are the following amounts of stock-based compensation:
In March 2016, the FASB issued new accounting guidance on share-based payment accounting. The areas for simplification in this update involve several aspects of the accounting for share-based payment transactions, including the income tax consequences, classification of awards as either equity or liabilities, forfeiture calculations, and classification on the statement of cash flows. We early adopted this new guidance in the third quarter of 2016. The Company applied the new guidance prospectively from January 1, 2016. In accordance with the new guidance, excess tax benefits and tax deficiencies are recognized as income tax benefit or expense rather than as additional paid-in capital. The Company has elected to recognize forfeitures as they occur rather than continue to estimate expected forfeitures. In addition, pursuant to the new guidance, excess tax benefits are classified as an operating activity on the consolidated statements of cash flows. The recognition of excess tax benefits and deficiencies are applied prospectively. For tax benefits that were not previously recognized and for adjustments to compensation cost based on actual forfeitures, the Company recorded a cumulative-effect adjustment in retained earnings as of January 1, 2016 in the amount of $66 million.
The Company accounts for income taxes using the asset and liability method. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying value amounts and income tax bases of assets and liabilities and the expected benefits of utilizing net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards. The deferred tax assets and liabilities are calculated using enacted tax rates in effect for each taxing jurisdiction in which the Company operates for the year in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. Net deferred tax assets are then reduced by a valuation allowance if the Company believes it more likely than not such net deferred tax assets will not be realized. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of an enacted change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.
When the tax law requires interest to be paid on an underpayment of income taxes, the Company recognizes interest expense from the first period the interest would begin accruing according to the relevant tax law. Such interest expense is included in interest expense in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations. Any accrual of penalties related to underpayment of income taxes on uncertain tax positions is included in other income (expense) in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations.
Earnings Attributable to Liberty Stockholders Per Common Share
Basic earnings (loss) per common share (“EPS”) is computed by dividing net earnings (loss) by the weighted average number of common shares that were outstanding for the period at the Company. Diluted EPS presents the dilutive effect on a per share basis of potential common shares as if they had been converted at the beginning of the periods presented.
As discussed in note 2, on April 15, 2016, the Company completed a recapitalization of its common stock into three new tracking stock groups, one designated as the Liberty SiriusXM common stock, one designated as the Liberty Braves common stock and one designated as the Liberty Media common stock. As further discussed in note 2, the Liberty Media common stock was renamed Liberty Formula One common stock on January 24, 2017 shortly after the Second Closing. The operating results prior to the Recapitalization are attributed to Liberty Media Corporation stockholders in the aggregate, and the operating results subsequent to the Recapitalization are attributed to the respective tracking stock groups.
Excluded from diluted EPS for the period subsequent to the Recapitalization through December 31, 2016 are approximately 21 million potentially dilutive shares of Series A Liberty SiriusXM common stock, 2 million potentially dilutive shares of Series A Liberty Braves common stock and 5 million potentially dilutive shares of Series A Liberty Formula One common stock, primarily due to warrants issued in connection with the Bond Hedge Transaction (note 10), because their inclusion would be antidilutive. The Amended Warrant Transactions (as defined and discussed in note 10) may have a dilutive effect with respect to the shares comprising the Securities Basket underlying the warrants to the extent that the settlement price exceeds the strike price of the warrants, and the warrants are settled in shares comprising such Securities Basket. The warrants and any potential future settlement have been attributed to the Formula One Group.
Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Media Corporation Common Stock
The basic and diluted EPS calculation is based on the following weighted average shares outstanding (“WASO”) of Liberty’s common stock. Excluded from diluted EPS for the periods from January 1, 2016 through the Recapitalization and for the year ended December 31, 2015 are 23 million and 22 million potential common shares, respectively, primarily due to warrants issued in connection with the Bond Hedge Transaction (as defined and discussed in note 10) because their inclusion would be anti-dilutive.
Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty SiriusXM Common Stock
The basic and diluted EPS calculations are based on the following weighted average outstanding shares of common stock. Excluded from diluted EPS for the year ended December 31, 2017 are 22 million potentially dilutive shares of Liberty SiriusXM common stock, because their inclusion would be antidilutive.
Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Braves Common Stock
The basic and diluted EPS calculations are based on the following weighted average outstanding shares of common stock. Excluded from diluted EPS for the year ended December 31, 2017 are 2 million potentially dilutive shares of Liberty Braves common stock, because their inclusion would be antidilutive.
Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Formula One Common Stock
The basic and diluted EPS calculations are based on the following weighted average outstanding shares of common stock. Excluded from diluted EPS for the year ended December 31, 2017 are 5 million potentially dilutive shares of Liberty Formula One common stock, because their inclusion would be antidilutive.
Reclasses and Adjustments
Certain prior period amounts have been reclassified for comparability with the current year presentation.
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenue and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates. The Company considers (i) recurring and nonrecurring fair value measurements, (ii) accounting for income taxes, (iii) assessments of other-than-temporary declines in fair value of its investments and (iv) determination of the useful life of SIRIUS XM’s broadcast/transmission system to be its most significant estimates.
The Company holds investments that are accounted for using the equity method. The Company does not control the decision making process or business management practices of these affiliates. Accordingly, the Company relies on management of these affiliates to provide it with accurate financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP that the Company uses in the application of the equity method. In addition, the Company relies on audit reports that are provided by the affiliates’ independent auditors on the financial statements of such affiliates. The Company is not aware, however, of any errors in or possible misstatements of the financial information provided by its equity affiliates that would have a material effect on the Company’s consolidated financial statements.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
In February 2016, the FASB issued new accounting guidance on lease accounting. This guidance requires a company to recognize lease assets and lease liabilities arising from operating leases in the statement of financial position. Additionally, the criteria for classifying a lease as a finance lease versus an operating lease are substantially the same as the previous guidance. The amendments in this update are effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018, including interim periods within those fiscal years, and early adoption is permitted. Companies are required to use a modified retrospective approach to adopt this guidance. The Company has not yet determined the effect of the standard on its ongoing financial reporting. The Company is currently working with its consolidated subsidiaries to evaluate the impact of the adoption of this new guidance on our consolidated financial statements, including identifying the population of leases, evaluating technology solutions and collecting lease data.
In October 2016, the FASB issued new accounting guidance on income tax accounting associated with intra-entity transfers of assets other than inventory. This accounting update, which is part of the FASB’s simplification initiative, is intended to reduce diversity in practice and the complexity of tax accounting, particularly for those transfers involving intellectual property. This new guidance requires an entity to recognize the income tax consequences of an intra-entity transfer of an asset other than inventory when the transfer occurs. The guidance is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2017, with early adoption permitted. Upon adoption, an entity may apply the new guidance only on a modified retrospective basis through a cumulative-effect adjustment directly to retained earnings as of the beginning of the period of adoption. The Company does not expect this new guidance will have a material impact to its consolidated financial statements or related disclosures.