Global Perspectives on Accounting Education Volume 5, 2008, 17-25
FIRST MOTORS CORPORATION: A CLASSROOM CASE ON IMPAIRMENTS
Tim Krumwiede College of Business Bryant University Smithfield, Rhode Island USA Emily Giannini Graduate Student, College of Business Bryant University Smithfield, Rhode Island USA ABSTRACT This case requires a detailed analysis of impairments of both long-lived assets and goodwill for First Motors Corporation, a fictitious automobile company. By integrating multiple issues into this case, students are presented with some of the complexities and interrelationships that are seen in practice. To properly prepare solutions to this case, students must successfully read, interpret, and apply both accounting standards and concept statements. The use of judgment in choosing a discount rate for present value computations is an important component of this case. In fact, an earnings management issue and resulting conflict between First Motors Management and the company’s auditor revolves around the discount rate choice. Additionally, the suggested questions provided with the case require that students address components of the conceptual framework in the context of the impairment standards. This case can be used in upper division financial reporting classes at either the undergraduate or graduate level.
Key words: Impairment, goodwill, long-lived assets, discount rate BACKGROUND t is currently 2013 and you are a member of the engagement team assigned to audit First Motors Corporation for the year ending 12/31/2012. First Motors Corporation is a car manufacturing company focused on moving from the production of gasoline-based cars to the production of cars
Krumwiede and Giannini
based on alternative fuel sources. It was one of the first car companies to successfully produce hybrid-based vehicles in the United States. First Motors has successfully maintained car sales and retained valuable employees while creating modern, efficient cars. By 2008, First Motors was manufacturing two vehicles, both of which are still being manufactured today. One model is a hybrid-powered vehicle that can be customized in style and features for any purchaser around the globe. This model, called the Passaic, is manufactured in Detroit, Michigan, close to the company’s corporate headquarters. First Motors also manufactures a gasoline-powered model, the Mendoza, at its plant in Lorain, Ohio. In 2008, to take advantage of its alternative fuel source expertise, First Motors purchased a large competitor, Macinaw Motors Corporation, which had made significant progress with hydrogen-powered cars. As the United States is moving toward alternative energy sources, hydrogen is increasingly being used as a fuel source to replace gasoline. To achieve such progress, several processes can be used to make hydrogen. According to the National Hydrogen Association (2006), hydrogen can be made from water, biomass, coal, and natural gas. Much of the hydrogen produced today comes from steam reforming natural gas. Alternatively, an electrolyzer can be used to separate water into its components, oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be cooled down to form liquid hydrogen which can be stored at hydrogen fuel stations. Macinaw Motors had experimented with several hydrogen technologies but eventually settled on the use of liquid hydrogen in an internal combustion engine as the most effective way to make substantial progress with hydrogen as an alternative fuel. Due to Macinaw Motors’ valuable research and development program, operating efficiencies, and exceptional reputation, part of the purchase price was allocated to goodwill. The amount recorded as goodwill was $1.3 billion, or the difference between the $5 billion purchase price (fair value) of Macinaw Motors as a whole and the $3.7 billion fair value of its identifiable net assets. When First Motors purchased Macinaw Motors, the combined company retained the name First...
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