CL » Topics » Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates

This excerpt taken from the CL 10-K filed Feb 28, 2008.

Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates

 

The preparation of financial statements requires management to use judgment and make estimates. The level of uncertainty in estimates and assumptions increases with the length of time until the underlying transactions are completed. Actual results could ultimately differ from those estimates. The accounting policies that are most critical in the preparation of the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements are those that are both important to the presentation of the Company’s financial condition and results of operations and require significant or complex judgments and estimates on the part of management. The Company’s critical accounting policies are reviewed periodically with the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.

 

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In certain instances, accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America allow for the selection of alternative accounting methods. The Company’s significant policies that involve the selection of alternative methods are accounting for shipping and handling costs and inventories.

 

   

Shipping and handling costs may be reported as either a component of cost of sales or selling, general and administrative expenses. The Company reports such costs, primarily related to warehousing and outbound freight, in the Consolidated Statements of Income as a component of Selling, general and administrative expenses. Accordingly, the Company’s gross profit margin is not comparable with the gross profit margin of those companies that include shipping and handling charges in cost of sales. If such costs had been included in cost of sales, gross profit margin as a percent of sales would have decreased by 790 bps from 56.2% to 48.3% in 2007 and decreased 770 bps and 750 bps in 2006 and 2005, respectively, with no impact on reported earnings.

 

   

The Company accounts for inventories using both the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method (approximately 80% of inventories) and the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method (approximately 20% of inventories). There would have been no impact on reported earnings for 2007, 2006 and 2005 had all inventories been accounted for under the FIFO method.

 

The areas of accounting that involve significant or complex judgments and estimates are pensions and other postretirement benefits, stock options, asset impairment, uncertain tax positions, tax valuation allowances and legal and other contingencies.

 

   

In pension accounting, the most significant actuarial assumptions are the discount rate and the long-term rate of return on plan assets. The discount rate for U.S. plans was 6.50%, 5.80% and 5.50% as of December 31, 2007, 2006 and 2005, respectively. Discount rates used for the U.S. defined benefit and other postretirement plans are based on a yield curve constructed from a portfolio of high-quality bonds for which the timing and amount of cash outflows approximate the estimated payouts of the U.S. plans. For the Company’s international plans, the discount rates are set by benchmarking against investment-grade corporate bonds rated AA or better. The assumed long-term rate of return on plan assets for U.S. plans was 8.0% as of December 31, 2007, 2006 and 2005. In determining the long-term rate of return, the Company considers the nature of the plans’ investments, an expectation for the plans’ investment strategies and the historical rate of return. The historical rate of return for the U.S. plans for the most recent 15-year period was 9%. In addition, the current rate of return assumption for the U.S. plans is based upon a targeted asset allocation of approximately 33% in fixed income securities (which are expected to earn approximately 6% in the long-term), 63% in equity securities (which are expected to earn approximately 9.25% in the long-term) and 4% in real estate and other (which are expected to earn approximately 6% in the long-term). A 1% change in either the discount rate or the assumed rate of return on plan assets of the U.S. pension plans would cumulatively impact future Net income by approximately $10. A third assumption is the long-term rate of compensation, a change in which would partially offset the impact of a change in either the discount rate or the long-term rate of return. This rate was 4.0% as of December 31, 2007, 2006 and 2005. (Refer to Note 10 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of the Company’s pension and other postretirement plans.)

 

   

The most judgmental assumption in accounting for other postretirement benefits is the medical cost trend rate. The Company reviews external data and its own historical trends for health care costs to determine the medical cost trend rate. The assumed rate of increase is 10% for 2008, declining 1% per year until reaching the ultimate assumed rate of increase of 5% per year. The effect of a 1% increase in the assumed long-term medical cost trend rate would reduce Net income by approximately $7.

 

   

Effective January 1, 2006, the Company adopted SFAS 123R, “Share-Based Payment” (SFAS 123R), using the modified prospective method. SFAS 123R requires companies to recognize the cost of employee services received in exchange for awards of equity instruments, such as stock options and restricted stock, based on the fair value of those awards at the date of grant. The Company uses the Black-

 

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Scholes-Merton (Black-Scholes) option pricing model to determine the fair value of stock-option awards under SFAS 123R. The weighted-average estimated fair value of each stock option granted for the year ended December 31, 2007, was $12.72. The Black-Scholes model uses various assumptions to determine the fair value of options. These assumptions include expected term of options, expected volatility, risk-free interest rate and expected dividend yield. While these assumptions do not require significant judgment, as the significant inputs are determined from independent third-party sources, changes in these inputs could result in significant changes in fair value. A one-year change in term would result in a change in fair value of approximately 13%. A 1% change in volatility would change fair value by approximately 4%.

 

   

Asset impairment analysis performed for goodwill and intangible assets requires several estimates including future cash flows, growth rates and the selection of a discount rate. Since the estimated fair value of the Company’s intangible assets substantially exceeds the recorded book value, significant changes in these estimates would have to occur to result in an impairment charge related to these assets. Asset impairment analysis related to certain fixed assets in connection with the 2004 Restructuring Program requires management’s best estimate of net realizable value.

 

   

The recognition and measurement of uncertain tax positions involves consideration of the amounts and probabilities of various outcomes that could be realized upon ultimate settlement.

 

   

Tax valuation allowances are established to reduce tax assets such as tax loss carryforwards, to net realizable value. Factors considered in estimating net realizable value include historical results by tax jurisdiction, carryforward periods, income tax strategies and forecasted taxable income.

 

   

Legal and other contingency reserves are based on management’s assessment of the risk of potential loss, which includes consultation with outside legal counsel and advisors. Such assessments are reviewed each period and revised, based on current facts and circumstances, if necessary. While it is possible that the Company’s cash flows and results of operations in a particular quarter or year could be materially affected by the one-time impact of the resolution of such contingencies, it is the opinion of management that the ultimate disposition of these matters will not have a material impact on the Company’s financial position, on-going results of operations or cash flows. (Refer to Note 13 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of the Company’s contingencies.)

 

The Company generates revenue through the sale of well-known consumer products to trade customers under established trading terms. While the recognition of revenue and receivables requires the use of estimates, there is a short time frame (typically less than 60 days) between the shipment of product and cash receipt, thereby reducing the level of uncertainty in these estimates. (Refer to Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further description of the Company’s significant accounting policies.)

 

This excerpt taken from the CL 10-K filed Feb 23, 2007.

Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates

 

The preparation of financial statements requires management to use judgment and make estimates. The level of uncertainty in estimates and assumptions increases with the length of time until the underlying transactions are completed. Actual results could ultimately differ from those estimates. The accounting policies that are most critical in the preparation of the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements are those that are both important to the presentation of the Company’s financial condition and results of operations and require significant or complex judgments and estimates on the part of management. The Company’s critical accounting policies are reviewed periodically with the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.

 

In certain instances, accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America allow for the selection of alternative accounting methods. The Company’s significant policies that involve the selection of alternative methods are accounting for shipping and handling costs and inventories.

 

   

Shipping and handling costs may be reported as either a component of cost of sales or selling, general and administrative expenses. The Company reports such costs, primarily related to warehousing and outbound freight, in the Consolidated Statements of Income as a component of Selling, general and administrative expenses. Accordingly, the Company’s gross profit margin is not comparable with the gross profit margin of those companies that include shipping and handling charges in cost of sales. If such costs had been included in cost of sales, gross profit margin as a percent of sales would have decreased by 770 bps from 54.8% to 47.1% in 2006 and decreased by 750 bps and 720 bps in 2005 and 2004, respectively, with no impact on reported earnings.

 

   

The Company accounts for inventories using both the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method (approximately 80% of inventories) and the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method (approximately 20% of inventories). There would have been no impact on reported earnings for 2006, 2005 and 2004 had all inventories been accounted for under the FIFO method.

 

The areas of accounting that involve significant or complex judgments and estimates are pensions and other postretirement benefits, stock options, asset impairment, tax valuation allowances, and legal and other contingencies.

 

   

In pension accounting, the most significant actuarial assumptions are the discount rate and the long-term rate of return on plan assets. The discount rate for U.S. plans was 5.80%, 5.50% and 5.75% as of

 

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December 31, 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively. Discount rates used for the U.S. defined benefit and other postretirement plans are based on a yield curve constructed from a portfolio of high-quality bonds for which the timing and amount of cash outflows approximate the estimated payouts of the U.S. plans. For the Company’s international plans, the discount rates are set by benchmarking against investment-grade corporate bonds rated AA or better. The assumed long-term rate of return on plan assets for U.S. plans was 8.0% as of December 31, 2006, 2005 and 2004. In determining the long-term rate of return, the Company considers the nature of the plans’ investments, an expectation for the plans’ investment strategies and the historical rate of return. The historical rate of return for the U.S. plans for the most recent 15-year period was 9%. In addition, the current rate of return assumption for the U.S. plans is based upon a targeted asset allocation of approximately 33% in fixed income securities (which are expected to earn approximately 6% in the long-term), 63% in equity securities (which are expected to earn approximately 9.25% in the long-term) and 4% in real estate and other (which are expected to earn approximately 6% in the long-term). A 1% change in either the discount rate or the assumed rate of return on plan assets of the U.S. pension plans would cumulatively impact future Net income by approximately $10. A third assumption is the long-term rate of compensation, a change in which would partially offset the impact of a change in either the discount rate or the long-term rate of return. This rate was 4.0% as of December 31, 2006, 2005 and 2004. (Refer to Note 10 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of the Company’s pension and other postretirement plans.)

 

   

The most judgmental assumption in accounting for other postretirement benefits is the medical cost trend rate. The Company reviews external data and its own historical trends for health care costs to determine the medical cost trend rate. The assumed rate of increase is 10% for 2007, declining 1% per year until reaching the ultimate assumed rate of increase of 5% per year. The effect of a 1% increase in the assumed long-term medical cost trend rate would reduce Net income by approximately $4.

 

   

Effective January 1, 2006, the Company adopted SFAS 123R, “Share-Based Payment,” (SFAS 123R) using the modified prospective method. SFAS 123R requires companies to recognize the cost of employee services received in exchange for awards of equity instruments, such as stock options and restricted stock, based on the fair value of those awards at the date of grant. The Company uses the Black-Scholes-Merton (Black-Scholes) option pricing model to determine the fair value of stock-option awards under SFAS 123R. The weighted average estimated fair value of each stock option granted for the year ended December 31, 2006 was $10.30. The Black-Scholes model uses various assumptions to determine the fair value of options. These assumptions include expected term of options, expected volatility, risk-free interest rate and expected dividend yield. While these assumptions do not require significant judgment, as the significant inputs are determined from independent third-party sources, changes in these inputs however, could result in significant changes in fair value. A one year change in term would result in a 15% change in fair value. A one percent change in volatility would change fair value by 4%.

 

   

Asset impairment analysis performed for goodwill and intangible assets requires several estimates including future cash flows, growth rates and the selection of a discount rate. Since the estimated fair value of the Company’s intangible assets substantially exceeds the recorded book value, significant changes in these estimates would have to occur to result in an impairment charge related to these assets. Asset impairment analysis related to certain fixed assets in connection with the 2004 Restructuring Program requires management’s best estimate of net realizable value.

 

   

Tax valuation allowances are established to reduce tax assets such as tax loss carryforwards, to net realizable value. Factors considered in estimating net realizable value include historical results by tax jurisdiction, carryforward periods, income tax strategies and forecasted taxable income.

 

   

Legal and other contingency reserves are based on management’s assessment of the risk of potential loss, which includes consultation with outside legal counsel and advisors. Such assessments are reviewed each period and revised, based on current facts and circumstances, if necessary. While it is possible that the Company’s cash flows and results of operations in a particular quarter or year could be materially

 

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affected by the one-time impacts of the resolution of such contingencies, it is the opinion of management that the ultimate disposition of these matters will not have a material impact on the Company’s financial position, or ongoing results of operations and cash flows. (Refer to Note 13 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of the Company’s contingencies.)

 

The Company generates revenue through the sale of well-known consumer products to trade customers under established trading terms. While the recognition of revenue and receivables requires the use of estimates, there is a short time frame (typically less than 60 days) between the shipment of product and cash receipt, thereby reducing the level of uncertainty in these estimates. (Refer to Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further description of the Company’s significant accounting policies.)

 

This excerpt taken from the CL 10-K filed Feb 24, 2006.

Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates

 

The preparation of financial statements requires management to use judgment and make estimates. The level of uncertainty in estimates and assumptions increases with the length of time until the underlying transactions are completed. Actual results could ultimately differ from those estimates. The accounting policies that are most critical in the preparation of the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements are those that are both important to the presentation of the Company’s financial condition and results of operations and require significant or complex judgments and estimates on the part of management. The Company’s critical accounting policies are reviewed periodically with the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.

 

In certain instances, accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America allow for the selection of alternative accounting methods. The Company’s significant policies that involve the selection of alternative methods are accounting for stock options, shipping and handling costs, and inventories.

 

    During 2005, two alternative methods for accounting for stock options were available, the intrinsic value method and the fair value method. The Company used the intrinsic value method of accounting for stock options, and accordingly, no compensation expense has been recognized. If the fair value method were used, diluted earnings per share for 2005, 2004 and 2003 would have decreased approximately 3%. SFAS 123R will require all companies issuing stock options to implement the fair value method and recognize compensation expense for stock options granted. As noted above, the Company will adopt SFAS 123R effective January 1, 2006 using the modified prospective method. (Refer to Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.)

 

    Shipping and handling costs may be reported as either a component of cost of sales or selling, general and administrative expenses. The Company reports such costs, primarily related to warehousing and outbound freight, in the Consolidated Statements of Income as a component of Selling, general and administrative expenses. Accordingly, the Company’s gross profit margin is not comparable with the gross profit margin of those companies that include shipping and handling charges in cost of sales. If such costs had been included in cost of sales, gross profit margin as a percent to sales would have decreased by 750 bps from 54.4% to 46.9% in 2005 and decreased by 720 bps and 710 bps in 2004 and 2003, respectively, with no impact on reported earnings.

 

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    The Company accounts for inventories using both the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method (approximately 80% of inventories) and the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method (20% of inventories). There would have been no material impact on reported earnings for 2005, 2004 and 2003 had all inventories been accounted for under the FIFO method.

 

The areas of accounting that involve significant or complex judgments and estimates are pensions and other postretirement benefits, asset impairment, tax valuation allowances, and legal and other contingencies.

 

    In pension accounting, the most significant actuarial assumptions are the discount rate and the long-term rate of return on plan assets. The discount rate for U.S. plans was 5.50%, 5.75% and 6.25% as of December 31, 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. Discount rates used for the U.S. defined benefit and other postretirement plans are based on a yield curve constructed from a portfolio of high quality bonds for which the timing and amount of cash outflows approximate the estimated payouts of the U.S. plans. For the Company’s international plans, the discount rates are set by benchmarking against investment grade corporate bonds rated AA or better. The assumed long-term rate of return on plan assets for domestic plans was 8.0% as of December 31, 2005, 2004 and 2003. In determining the long-term rate of return, the Company considers the nature of the plans’ investments, an expectation for the plans’ investment strategies and the historical rate of return. The historical rate of return for the U.S. plans for the most recent 15-year period was 9%. In addition, the current rate of return assumption for the U.S. plans is based upon a targeted asset allocation of approximately 35% in fixed income securities (which are expected to earn approximately 6% in the long term), 61% in equity securities (which are expected to earn approximately 10% in the long term) and 4% in real estate and other (which are expected to earn approximately 6% in the long term). A 1% change in either the discount rate or the assumed rate on plan assets of the U.S. pension plans would impact Net income by approximately $10. A third assumption is the long-term rate of compensation increase, a change in which would partially offset the impact of a change in either the discount rate or the long-term rate of return. This rate was 4.0%, 4.0% and 4.25% as of December 31, 2005, 2004 and 2003, respectively. (Refer to Note 10 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.)

 

    The most judgmental assumption in accounting for other postretirement benefits is the medical cost trend rate. The Company reviews external data and its own historical trends for health care costs to determine the medical cost trend rate. In 2005, the assumed rate of increase was 10.0% for 2006 and declining 1% per year until reaching the ultimate assumed rate of increase of 5% per year. The effect of a 1% increase in the assumed long-term medical cost trend rate would reduce Net income by approximately $4.5.

 

    Asset impairment analysis performed for goodwill and intangible assets requires several estimates including future cash flows, growth rates and the selection of a discount rate. Since the estimated fair value of the Company’s intangible assets substantially exceeds the recorded book value, significant changes in these estimates would have to occur to result in an impairment charge related to these assets. Asset impairment analysis related to certain fixed assets in connection with the 2004 Restructuring Program requires management’s best estimate of net realizable value.

 

    Tax valuation allowances are established to reduce tax assets such as tax loss carryforwards, to net realizable value. Factors considered in estimating net realizable value include historical results by tax jurisdiction, carryforward periods, income tax strategies and forecasted taxable income. A significant change to the Company’s valuation allowances would primarily impact equity and would not materially impact reported earnings.

 

   

Legal and other contingency reserves are based on management’s assessment of the risk of potential loss, which includes consultation with outside legal counsel and advisors. Such assessments are reviewed each period and revised, based on current facts and circumstances, if necessary. While it is possible that the Company’s cash flows and results of operations in a particular quarter or year could be materially

 

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affected by the one-time impacts of the resolution of such contingencies, it is the opinion of management that the ultimate disposition of these matters will not have a material impact on the Company’s financial position, or ongoing results of operations and cash flows. (Refer to Note 13 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of the Company’s contingencies.)

 

The Company generates revenue through the sale of well-known consumer products to trade customers under established trading terms. While the recognition of revenue and receivables requires the use of estimates, there is a short time frame (typically less than 60 days) between the shipment of product and cash receipt, thereby reducing the level of uncertainty in these estimates. (Refer to Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further description of the Company’s significant accounting policies.)

 

This excerpt taken from the CL 10-K filed Feb 25, 2005.

Critical Accounting Policies and Use of Estimates

 

The preparation of financial statements requires management to use judgment and make estimates. The level of uncertainty in estimates and assumptions increases with the length of time until the underlying transactions are completed. Actual results could ultimately differ from those estimates. The accounting policies that are most critical in the preparation of the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements are those that are both important to the presentation of the Company’s financial condition and results of operations and require significant or complex judgments and estimates on the part of management. The Company’s critical accounting policies are reviewed periodically with the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors.

 

In certain instances, accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America allow for the selection of alternative accounting methods. The Company’s significant policies that involve the selection of alternative methods are accounting for stock options, shipping and handling costs, and inventories.

 

    At December 31, 2004, two alternative methods for accounting for stock options were available, the intrinsic value method and the fair value method. The Company uses the intrinsic value method of accounting for stock options, and accordingly, no compensation expense has been recognized. Under the fair value method, the determination of the pro forma amounts involves several assumptions including option term until exercise and future stock price volatility. If the fair value method were used, diluted earnings per share for 2004, 2003 and 2002 would have decreased approximately 3%. As noted above, effective July 1, 2005, SFAS 123R will require all companies issuing stock options to implement the fair value method and recognize compensation expense for stock options granted. (Refer to Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.)

 

    Shipping and handling costs may be reported as either a component of cost of sales or selling, general and administrative expenses. The Company reports such costs, primarily related to warehousing and outbound freight, in the Consolidated Statements of Income as a component of selling, general and administrative expenses. Accordingly, the Company’s gross profit margin is not comparable with the gross profit margin of those companies that include shipping and handling charges in cost of sales. If such costs had been included in cost of sales, gross profit margin as a percent to sales would have decreased from 55.1% to 47.9% in 2004 with no impact on reported earnings.

 

    The Company accounts for inventories using both the first-in, first-out (FIFO) method (80% of inventories) and the last-in, first-out (LIFO) method (20% of inventories). There would have been no impact on reported earnings for 2004, 2003 and 2002 had all inventories been accounted for under the FIFO method.

 

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The areas of accounting that involve significant or complex judgments and estimates are pensions and other postretirement benefits, asset impairment, tax valuation allowances, and legal and other contingencies.

 

    In pension accounting, the most significant actuarial assumptions are the discount rate and the long-term rate of return on plan assets. The discount rate for domestic plans was 5.75%, 6.25% and 6.75% as of December 31, 2004, 2003 and 2002, respectively. As required, the discount rate is based upon published year-end rates on high-quality bonds. The assumed long-term rate of return on plan assets for domestic plans was 8.0% as of December 31, 2004, 2003 and 2002. In determining the long-term rate of return, the Company considers the nature of the plans’ investments, an expectation for the plans’ investment strategies and the historical rates of return. A 1% change in either the discount rate or the assumed rate on plan assets would impact Net income by approximately $8. A third assumption is the long-term rate of compensation increase, a change in which would partially offset the impact of a change in either the discount rate or the long-term rate of return. This rate was 4.0%, 4.25% and 4.25% as of December 31, 2004, 2003 and 2002, respectively.

 

    The most judgmental assumption in accounting for other postretirement benefits is the medical cost trend rate. In 2004, the assumed rate of increase was 10.0% for 2005 and declining 1% per year until reaching the ultimate assumed rate of increase of 5% per year. The effect of a 1% increase in the assumed long-term medical cost trend rate would reduce Net income by approximately $3.2.

 

    Asset impairment analysis performed for goodwill and intangible assets requires several estimates including future cash flows, growth rates and the selection of a discount rate. Since the estimated fair value of the Company’s intangible assets substantially exceeds the recorded book value, significant changes in these estimates would have to occur to result in an impairment charge related to these assets. Asset impairment analysis related to certain fixed assets in connection with the 2004 Restructuring Program requires management’s best estimate of net realizable value.

 

    Tax valuation allowances are established to reduce tax assets such as tax loss carryforwards, to net realizable value. Factors considered in estimating net realizable value include historical results by tax jurisdiction, carryforward periods, income tax strategies and forecasted taxable income. A significant change to the Company’s valuation allowances would primarily impact equity and would not materially impact reported earnings.

 

    Legal and other contingency reserves are based on management’s assessment of the risk of potential loss, which includes consultation with outside legal counsel and advisors. Such assessments are reviewed each period and revised, based on current facts and circumstances, if necessary. While it is possible that the Company’s cash flows and results of operations in a particular quarter or year could be affected by the one-time impacts of the resolution of such contingencies, it is the opinion of management that the ultimate disposition of these matters, to the extent not previously provided for, will not have a material impact on the Company’s financial position, results of operations or ongoing cash flows. (Refer to Note 13 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of the Company’s contingencies.)

 

The Company generates revenue through the sale of well-known consumer products to trade customers under established trading terms. While the recognition of revenue and receivables requires the use of estimates, there is a short time frame (typically less than 60 days) between the shipment of product and cash receipt, thereby reducing the level of uncertainty in these estimates. (Refer to Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further description of the Company’s significant accounting policies.)

 

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