This excerpt taken from the VRSN 10-K filed Mar 3, 2009.
Valuation of goodwill and other long-lived assets
Goodwill represents the excess of costs over fair value of net assets of businesses acquired. Fair value determination of acquired net assets, especially intangible assets, requires us to make significant estimates, assumptions and judgment. These estimates are based upon a number of factors, including historical experience, market conditions and information obtained from the management of the acquired company. Critical estimates in valuing certain of the intangible assets include, but are not limited to, historical and projected customer retention rates, anticipated growth in revenue from the acquired customer and product base and the expected use of the acquired assets. These factors are also considered in determining the useful life of the acquired intangible assets.
Goodwill and other intangible assets acquired in a business combination that are determined to have an indefinite useful life are not amortized, but instead tested for impairment at least annually or between annual tests in the presence of impairment indicators such as: (a) a significant adverse change in legal factors or in the business climate; (b) an adverse action or assessment by a regulator; (c) unanticipated competition; (d) loss of key personnel; (e) a more-likely-than-not expectation of sale or disposal of a reporting unit or a significant portion thereof; (f) testing for recoverability of a significant asset group within a reporting unit; or (g) recognition of a goodwill impairment loss in the financial statements of a subsidiary that is a component of a reporting unit. Judgment is required in determining the existence of these factors and its effect on any impairment determination.
The fair value of our reporting units is determined considering the income, the market or the transaction valuation approaches or a combination thereof. Under the income approach, the fair value of the reporting unit is based on the present value of estimated future cash flows that the reporting unit is expected to generate over its remaining life. Under the market approach, the value of the reporting unit is based on an analysis that compares the value of the reporting unit to values of publicly traded companies in similar lines of business. The transaction approach is a valuation technique that estimates the fair value of the reporting unit based on market prices on actual transactions and asking prices for businesses currently available for sale.
The process of evaluating the potential impairment of goodwill is highly subjective and requires significant judgment at many points during the analysis. In estimating the fair value of our reporting units for the purposes
of our annual or interim analyses, we make estimates and judgments about the future cash flows, operating trends, discount rates, control premiums, and other variables of these businesses. Although our cash flow forecasts are based on assumptions that are consistent with the plans and estimates we use to manage the underlying businesses, there is significant judgment in determining the cash flows attributable to these businesses over their estimated remaining useful lives. We also consider our market capitalization on the date we perform the analysis.
Our other long-lived assets consist primarily of property and equipment and purchased intangible assets. We review other long-lived assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that we will not be able to recover the assets carrying amount. Such events or circumstances include, but are not limited to, a significant decrease in the fair value of the underlying business or asset, a significant decrease in the benefits realized from the acquired business, difficulty and delays in integrating the business or a significant change in the operations of the acquired business or use of an asset.
Recoverability of other long-lived assets is measured by comparison of the carrying amount of an asset to estimated undiscounted cash flows of the group containing the asset. If the carrying amount of an asset group exceeds its estimated future cash flows, an impairment charge is recognized by the amount by which the carrying amount of the asset exceeds its fair value.