This excerpt taken from the HPQ 8-K filed Nov 12, 2008.
Goodwill and Other Intangibles
The cost of acquired companies is allocated to the assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on estimated fair values at the date of acquisition. Costs allocated to identifiable intangible assets with finite lives, other than purchased software, are generally amortized on a straight-line basis over the remaining estimated useful lives of the assets, as determined by underlying contract terms or appraisals. Such lives range from one to 14 years. Identifiable intangible assets with indefinite useful lives are not amortized but instead tested for impairment annually, or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate that the asset might be impaired. Intangible assets with indefinite useful lives are impaired when the carrying value of the asset exceeds their fair value.
The excess of the cost of acquired companies over the net amounts assigned to assets acquired and liabilities assumed is recorded as goodwill. Goodwill is not amortized but instead tested for impairment at least annually. The first step of the impairment test is a comparison of the fair value of a reporting unit to its carrying value. Reporting units are the geographic components of its reportable segments that share similar economic characteristics. The fair value of a reporting unit is estimated using the Companys projections of discounted future operating cash flows of the unit. Goodwill allocated to a reporting unit whose fair value is equal to or greater than its carrying value is not impaired and no further testing is required. A reporting unit whose fair value is less than its carrying value requires a second step to determine whether the goodwill allocated to the unit is impaired. The second step of the goodwill impairment test is a comparison of the implied fair value of a reporting units goodwill to its carrying value. The implied fair value of a reporting units goodwill is determined by allocating the fair value of the entire reporting unit to the assets and liabilities of that unit, including any unrecognized intangible assets, based on fair value. The excess of the fair value of the entire reporting unit over the amounts allocated to the identifiable assets and liabilities of the unit is the implied fair value of the reporting units goodwill. Goodwill of a reporting unit is impaired when its carrying value exceeds its implied fair value. Impaired goodwill is written down to its implied fair value with a charge to expense in the period the impairment is identified. As this impairment test is based on the Companys assessment of the fair value of its reporting units, future changes to these estimates could also cause an impairment of a portion of the Companys goodwill balance.
The Company conducts an annual impairment test for goodwill as of December 1st. The Company determines the timing and frequency of additional goodwill impairment tests based on an ongoing assessment of events and circumstances that would more than likely reduce the fair value of a reporting unit below its carrying value. Events or circumstances that might require the need
for more frequent tests include, but are not limited to: the loss of a number of significant clients, the identification of other impaired assets within a reporting unit, the disposition of a significant portion of a reporting unit, or a significant adverse change in business climate or regulations. The Company also considers the amount by which the fair value of a particular reporting unit exceeded its carrying value in the most recent goodwill impairment test to determine whether more frequent tests are necessary.
Purchased or licensed software not subject to a subscription agreement is capitalized and amortized on a straight-line basis, generally over two to five years. Costs of developing and maintaining software systems incurred primarily in connection with client contracts are considered contract costs. Purchased software and certain development costs for computer software sold, leased or otherwise marketed as a separate product or as part of a product or process are capitalized and amortized on a product-by-product basis over their remaining estimated useful lives at the greater of straight-line or the ratio that current gross revenues for a product bear to the total of current and anticipated future gross revenues for that product. The estimated useful lives of software products to be sold, leased or otherwise marketed are generally three years or less. Software development costs incurred to meet the Companys internal needs are capitalized and amortized on a straight-line basis over three to five years. Software under subscription arrangements, whereby the software provider makes available current software products as well as products developed or acquired during the term of the arrangement, are executory contracts and expensed ratably over the subscription term.