The dollar amount of goodwill impairment recorded by U.S. companies rose 18% to $26 billion in 2014, with impairments in the oil and gas industry increasing dramatically, according to a report from Duff & Phelps.
The consulting firm said in its 2015 U.S. Goodwill Impairment Study that the number of goodwill impairment events increased by 24% to 341 for the same period, while the average impairment amount fell 5%, to $75 million.
“The increased 2014 aggregate impairment amount was consistent with macroeconomic trends. While the U.S. economy continued to improve in 2014, plunging commodity prices in the latter half of the year affected certain industries disproportionately,” Greg Franceschi, Duff & Phelps managing director and co-chairman of the AICPA Impairment Task Force, said in a news release.
The energy sector was particularly hard hit, with the amount of goodwill impairment nearly tripling in 2014 to $5.8 billion, primarily due to charges taken in the exploration and production sector.
“Given [exploration and porduction] asset values have a direct linkage to oil and other commodity prices, it is not surprising that the E&P sector accounted for approximately 90% of the impairments in the oil and gas industry in 2014,” the report states. “With hedges rolling off, price outlooks shifting lower, and current prices declining … it is possible that E&P sector write-offs in 2015 may exceed $50 billion or more as the industry grapples with continued oversupply.”
The continued exposure to lower oil and commodity prices in the E&P “is likely to result in the oil and gas industry continuing to be one of the sectors with the greatest exposure to goodwill and asset impairment charges in 2015,” Duff & Phelps warned.
Among other industries, consumer staples, financials, information technology, and industrials all recorded an increase in goodwill impairment, while healthcare, consumer discretionary, telecom, materials, and utilities all recorded declines.