Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2016
|Summary of Significant Accounting Policies [Abstract]|
|Significant Accounting Policies [Text Block]||
(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. A provision for bad debts is provided as a percentage of accounts receivable based on historical experience and included in selling, general and administrative expense. A provision for vendor receivables are determined based on an estimate of probable expected losses and included in cost of goods sold. A summary of activity in the allowance for doubtful accounts is as follows:
Inventory, consisting primarily of products held for sale, is stated at the lower of cost or market. Cost is determined by the average cost method, which approximates the first-in, first-out method. Assessments about the realizability of inventory require the Company to make judgments based on currently available information about the likely method of disposition including sales to individual customers, returns to product vendors, liquidations and the estimated recoverable values of each disposition category. Inventory is stated net of inventory obsolescence reserves of $76 million and $87 million for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
In July 2015, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued new accounting guidance that changes the measurement principle for inventory from the lower of cost or market to lower of cost and net realizable value. The new principle is part of the FASB’s simplification initiative and applies to entities that measure inventory using a method other than last-in, first-out or the retail inventory method. The new standard is effective for the Company for fiscal years and interim periods beginning after December 15, 2016. The Company has determined there is no significant effect of the standard on its ongoing financial reporting.
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. United States (“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 statements of operations (the "fair value option"). Liberty had previously entered into economic hedges for certain of its non-strategic AFS securities (although such instruments were not accounted for as fair value hedges by the Company). Changes in the fair value of these economic hedges were reflected in Liberty's statements 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 has elected the fair value option for those of its AFS securities which it considers to be non-strategic ("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 gains (losses) on financial instruments in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations. The total value of AFS securities for which the Company has elected the fair value option aggregated $1,846 million and $1,294 million as of December 31, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
Other investments in which the Company's ownership interest is less than 20%, unless the Company has the ability to exercise significant influence, and that 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, except in situations where the fair value option has been selected. Under the equity method of accounting, 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 statements 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 carrying value 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 carrying value 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 considerable management 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 would be included in the consolidated statements of operations as other than temporary declines in fair values of investments. Writedowns for equity method investments would be included in share of earnings (losses) of affiliates.
In January 2016, the 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, with early adoption permitted under certain circumstances. The Company has not yet determined the effect of the standard on its ongoing financial reporting.
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 statements 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.
The Company generally enters into derivative contracts that it intends to designate as a hedge of a forecasted transaction or the variability of cash flows to be received or paid related to a recognized asset or liability (cash flow hedge). For all hedging relationships, the Company formally documents the hedging relationship and its risk management objective and strategy for undertaking the hedge, the hedging instrument, the hedged item, the nature of the risk being hedged, how the hedging instrument's effectiveness in offsetting the hedged risk will be assessed prospectively and retrospectively, and a description of the method of measuring ineffectiveness. The Company also formally assesses, both at the hedge's inception and on an ongoing basis, whether the derivatives that are used in hedging transactions are highly effective in offsetting cash flows of hedged items. Changes in the fair value of a derivative that is highly effective and that is designated and qualifies as a cash flow hedge are recorded in accumulated other comprehensive income to the extent that the derivative is effective as a hedge, until earnings are affected by the variability in cash flows of the designated hedged item. The ineffective portion of the change in fair value of a derivative instrument that qualifies as a cash flow hedge is reported in earnings.
During the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015, QVC entered into hedges of a net investment in a foreign subsidiary. The purpose of the hedges was to protect QVC's investment in the foreign subsidiary against the variability of the U.S. Dollar and Euro exchange rate. On December 19, 2016, this hedge instrument matured, resulting in a gain that was recognized in QVC’s other comprehensive income.
During the year ended December 31, 2016, QVC entered into a three-year interest rate swap arrangement with a notional amount of $125 million to mitigate the interest rate risk associated with interest payments related to its variable rate debt.
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 of 2 to 15 years for support equipment and 8 to 20 years for buildings and improvements. Depreciation expense for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 was $171 million, $153 million and $158 million, respectively.
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.
The Company utilizes a qualitative assessment for determining whether step one of the goodwill impairment analysis is necessary. 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 two-step goodwill impairment test. 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 was 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 year and prior year for other purposes.
If based on the qualitative analysis it is more likely than not that an impairment exists, the Company performs the two-step impairment test. In the Step 1 Test, the Company 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 analyses 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. For those reporting units whose carrying value exceeds the fair value, a second test is required to measure the impairment loss (the "Step 2 Test"). In the Step 2 Test, the fair value (Level 3) of the reporting unit is allocated to all of the identifiable assets and liabilities of the reporting unit with any residual value being allocated to goodwill. Any excess of the carrying value of the goodwill over this allocated amount is recorded as an impairment charge.
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, other than goodwill, is impaired. 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.
In January 2017, the FASB issued new accounting guidance to simplify the measurement of goodwill impairment. Under the new guidance, an entity will no longer perform a Step 2 Test to measure goodwill impairment. Instead, impairment will be measured using the difference between the carrying amount and the fair value of the reporting unit. The guidance is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2019, with early adoption permitted for goodwill impairment tests with measurement dates after January 1, 2017. The Company is currently evaluating the effect that the updated standard will have on its consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.
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 intangible assets) 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, including its ultimate disposition, 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 asset groups 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 statements of operations. Also, changes in ownership interests in subsidiaries in which the Company maintains a controlling interest are recorded in equity.
Foreign Currency Translation
The functional currency of the Company is the U.S. Dollar. The functional currency of the Company's foreign operations generally is the applicable local currency for each foreign subsidiary. Assets and liabilities of foreign subsidiaries are translated at the spot rate in effect at the applicable reporting date, and the consolidated statements of operations are translated at the average exchange rates in effect during the applicable period. The resulting unrealized cumulative translation adjustment, net of applicable income taxes, is recorded as a component of accumulated other comprehensive earnings in stockholders' equity.
Transactions denominated in currencies other than the functional currency are recorded based on exchange rates at the time such transactions arise. Subsequent changes in exchange rates result in transaction gains and losses which are reflected in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive earnings (loss) as unrealized (based on the applicable period-end exchange rate) or realized upon settlement of the transactions. These realized and unrealized gains and losses are reported in the Other, net line item in the consolidated statements of operations.
Retail revenue is recognized at the time of delivery to customers. The revenue for shipments in-transit is recorded as deferred revenue and included in other current liabilities. Additionally, service revenue, which is less than one percent of overall revenue, is recognized when the applicable criteria are met: persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, services have been rendered, the price is fixed and determinable and collectability is reasonably assured.
An allowance for returned merchandise is provided as a percentage of sales based on historical experience. The total reduction in sales due to returns for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 aggregated $1,865 million, $2,037 million and $2,123 million, respectively. Sales tax collected from customers on retail sales is recorded on a net basis and is not included in revenue.
A summary of activity in the allowance for sales returns, is 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. This guidance is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2017, and early adoption is permitted only for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2016. We have identified the Company’s various revenue streams and are working with our subsidiaries to evaluate the quantitative effects of the new guidance. The Company has not yet selected a transition method. We will continue to provide updates as to the progress of our evaluation in our quarterly reports during 2017.
Cost of Sales
Cost of sales primarily includes actual product cost, provision for obsolete inventory, buying allowances received from suppliers, shipping and handling costs and warehouse costs.
Advertising costs generally are expensed as incurred. Advertising expense aggregated $231 million, $154 million and $271 million for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, respectively. Advertising costs are reflected in the selling, general and administrative, including stock-based compensation line item in our consolidated statements of operations.
As more fully described in note 15, the Company has granted to its directors, employees and employees of its subsidiaries options, restricted stock and stock appreciation rights relating to shares of QVC Group and/or Liberty Ventures common stock ("Liberty common stock") (collectively, "Awards"). The Company measures the cost of employee services received in exchange for an Award of equity instruments (such as stock options and restricted stock) 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). The Company measures the cost of employee services received in exchange for an Award of liability instruments (such as stock appreciation rights that will be settled in cash) based on the current fair value of the Award, and remeasures the fair value of the Award at each reporting date.
Stock compensation expense was $97 million, $127 million and $108 million for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, respectively, included in selling, general and administrative expense in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations.
In March 2016, the FASB issued new guidance which simplifies several aspects of the accounting for share-based payment award transactions, including the income tax consequences, forfeitures, classification of awards as either equity or liabilities, and classification on the statement of cash flows. The new standard is effective for the Company for fiscal years and interim periods beginning after December 15, 2016, with early application permitted. The Company adopted this guidance in the third quarter of 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 from January 1, 2016. For tax benefits that were not previously recognized and for adjustments to compensation cost based on actual forfeitures, the Company has recorded a cumulative-effect adjustment in retained earnings as of January 1, 2016. The presentation changes for excess tax benefits have been applied retrospectively in the consolidated statements of cash flows, resulting in $33 million and $21 million of excess tax benefits for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively, reclassified from cash flows from financing activities to cash flows from operating activities.
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.
In October 2016, the FASB issued new accounting guidance which requires an entity to recognize at the transaction date the income tax consequences of intercompany asset transfers. The guidance is effective for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after December 15, 2017, with early adoption permitted. We are currently evaluating the effect that the updated standard will have on our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.
Earnings (Loss) Attributable to Liberty Stockholders and Earnings (Loss) Per Common Share
Net earnings (loss) attributable to Liberty stockholders is comprised of the following (amounts in millions):
Basic earnings (loss) per common share ("EPS") is computed by dividing net earnings (loss) attributable to such common stock by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding for the period. 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.
Series A and Series B QVC Group Common Stock
EPS for all periods through December 31, 2016, is based on the following weighted average shares outstanding. Excluded from diluted EPS for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014 are approximately 3 million, 6 million and 1 million potential common shares, respectively, because their inclusion would be antidilutive.
Series A and Series B Liberty Ventures Common Stock
As discussed in note 2, on October 3, 2014, Liberty attributed from the QVC Group to the Ventures Group its Digital Commerce businesses. In exchange for the Reattributed Assets, Inter-Group Interest Shares in the Ventures Group were created in favor of the QVC Group. Immediately following the reattribution on October 3, 2014, Liberty's board declared a dividend of the Inter-Group Interest Shares to the holders of Series A and Series B QVC Group common stock in full elimination of the inter-group interest. The Inter-Group Interest Shares were allocated, pro-rata, to the outstanding shares of Series A and Series B QVC Group common stock at 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on October 13, 2014, the record date for the dividend, such that each holder of QVC Group common stock received 0.14217 of a share of the corresponding series of Liberty Ventures common stock for each share of QVC Group common stock held as of the record date, with cash paid in lieu of fractional shares. The distribution date for the dividend was on October 20, 2014, and the Liberty Interactive common stock began trading ex-dividend on October 15, 2014. The reattribution of the Digital Commerce companies is presented on a prospective basis from the date of the reattribution in Liberty’s consolidated financial statements, with October 1, 2014 used as a proxy for the date of the reattribution. Additionally, the Expedia Holdings Split-Off on November 4, 2016 reduced the number of outstanding shares of Liberty Ventures common stock as of that date. See note 13 for more discussion regarding the Expedia Holdings Split-Off.
EPS for all periods through December 31, 2016, is based on the following weighted average shares outstanding. Excluded from diluted EPS for the year ended December 31, 2016 are less than a million potential common shares because their inclusion would be antidilutive.
Reclasses and adjustments
Certain prior period amounts have been reclassified for comparability with the current year presentation.
As a result of repurchases of Series A QVC Group common stock, the Company’s additional paid-in capital balance was in a deficit position as of December 31, 2016. In order to maintain a zero balance in the additional paid-in capital account, we reclassified the amount of the deficit ($341 million) at December 31, 2016 to retained earnings.
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. Liberty considers (i) recurring and non-recurring fair value measurements, (ii) accounting for income taxes, (iii) assessments of other-than-temporary declines in fair value of its investments and (iv) estimates of retail-related adjustments and allowances to be its most significant estimates.
Liberty holds investments that are accounted for using the equity method. Liberty does not control the decision making process or business management practices of these affiliates. Accordingly, Liberty relies on management of these affiliates to provide it with accurate financial information prepared in accordance with GAAP that Liberty uses in the application of the equity method. In addition, Liberty 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 Liberty's consolidated financial statements.
Recently Adopted Accounting Pronouncements
In August 2014, the FASB issued new accounting guidance which requires management to assess whether there are conditions or events, considered in the aggregate, that raise substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the financial statements are issued. If substantial doubt exists, additional disclosures are required. The Company adopted this guidance during the year ended December 31, 2016. The adoption of this guidance did not have an impact on our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.
In September 2015, the FASB issued new accounting guidance which eliminates the requirement for an acquirer in a business combination to account for measurement-period adjustments retrospectively. Instead, acquirers must recognize measurement-period adjustments during the period in which they determine the amounts, including the effect on earnings of any amounts that would have been recorded in previous periods if the accounting had been completed at the acquisition date. The Company adopted this guidance in the first quarter of 2016. The adoption of this guidance did not have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.
New Accounting Pronouncements Not Yet Adopted
In February 2016, the FASB issued new guidance which revises the accounting for leases. Under the new guidance, lessees will be required to recognize a lease liability and a right-of-use asset for all leases. The new guidance also simplifies the accounting for sale and leaseback transactions. The new standard, to be applied via a modified retrospective transition approach, is effective for the Company for fiscal years and interim periods beginning after December 15, 2018, with early adoption permitted. 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.
The entire disclosure for all significant accounting policies of the reporting entity.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef