This excerpt taken from the WDC 10-K filed Nov 20, 2006.
Critical Accounting Policies
We have prepared the accompanying consolidated financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. The preparation of the financial statements requires the use of judgment and estimates that affect the reported amounts of revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities and shareholders equity. We have adopted accounting policies and practices that are generally accepted in the industry in which we operate. We believe the following are our most critical accounting policies that affect significant areas and involve judgment and estimates made by us. If these estimates differ significantly from actual results, the impact to the consolidated financial statements may be material.
Revenue and Accounts Receivable
In accordance with standard industry practice, we have agreements with resellers that provide limited price protection for inventories held by resellers at the time of published list price reductions and other incentive programs. In accordance with current accounting standards, we recognize revenue upon delivery to OEMs and resellers and record a reduction to revenue for estimated price protection and other programs in effect until the resellers sell such inventory to their customers. We base these adjustments on anticipated price decreases during the reseller holding period, estimated amounts to be reimbursed to qualifying customers, as well as historical pricing information. If end-market demand for hard drives declines significantly, we may have to increase sell-through incentive payments to resellers, resulting in an increase in our allowances, which could adversely impact operating results.
We record an allowance for doubtful accounts by analyzing specific customer accounts and assessing the risk of loss based on insolvency, disputes or other collection issues. In addition, we routinely analyze the different receivable aging categories and establish reserves based on a combination of past due receivables and expected future losses based primarily
on our historical levels of bad debt losses. If the financial condition of a significant customer deteriorates resulting in its inability to pay its accounts when due, or if our overall loss history changes significantly, an adjustment in our allowance for doubtful accounts would be required, which could affect operating results.
We establish provisions against revenue and cost of revenue for estimated sales returns in the same period that the related revenue is recognized. We base these provisions on existing product return notifications. If actual sales returns exceed expectations, an increase in the sales return accrual would be required, which could negatively affect operating results.
We record an accrual for estimated warranty costs when revenue is recognized. Warranty covers costs of repair or replacement of the hard drive over the warranty period, which generally ranges from one to five years. We have comprehensive processes with which to estimate accruals for warranty, which include specific detail on hard drive reliability, such as factory test data, historical field return rates, and costs to repair by product type. If actual product return trends or costs to repair returned products demonstrate significant differences from expectations, a change in the warranty provision is made. If these estimates differ significantly from actual results, the impact to the consolidated financial statements may be material. For a summary of historical changes in estimates related to pre-existing warranty provisions, refer to Part II, Item 8, Note 6 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We value inventories at the lower of cost (first-in, first-out basis) or net realizable value. We record inventory write-downs for the valuation of inventory at the lower of cost or net realizable value by analyzing market conditions and estimates of future sales prices as compared to inventory costs and inventory balances.
We evaluate inventory balances for excess quantities and obsolescence on a regular basis by analyzing backlog, estimated demand, inventory on hand, sales levels and other information, and reduce inventory balances to net realizable value for excess and obsolete inventory based on this analysis. Unanticipated changes in technology or customer demand could result in a decrease in demand for one or more of our products, which may require an increase in inventory balance adjustments that could negatively affect operating results.
Litigation and Other Contingencies
We apply SFAS No. 5, Accounting for Contingencies, to determine when and how much to accrue for and disclose related to legal and other contingencies. Accordingly, we disclose contingencies deemed to be reasonably possible and accrue loss contingencies when, in consultation with our legal advisors, we conclude that a loss is probable and reasonably estimable (Refer to Part II, Item 8, Note 7 of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K). The ability to predict the ultimate outcome of such matters involves judgments, estimates and inherent uncertainties. The actual outcome of such matters could differ materially from managements estimates.
We account for income taxes under the asset and liability method, which provides that deferred tax assets and liabilities be recognized for temporary differences between the financial reporting basis and the tax basis of our assets and liabilities and expected benefits of utilizing net operating loss (NOL) and tax credit carryforwards. We record a valuation allowance where it is more likely than not that the deferred tax assets will not be realized. Each period we evaluate the need for a valuation allowance for our deferred tax assets and we adjust the valuation allowance so that we record net deferred tax assets only to the extent that we conclude it is more likely than not that these deferred tax assets will be realized.
We record estimated liabilities for tax uncertainties. To the extent a tax position does not meet a probable level of certainty, a liability is established based on the best estimate of the amount that will not be sustained. However, the actual liability in any such contingency may be materially different from our estimates, which could result in the need to record additional tax liabilities or potentially adjust previously recorded tax liabilities.
We account for all stock-based compensation in accordance with the fair value recognition provisions of SFAS No. 123-R, Share-Based Payment. Under these provisions, stock-based compensation cost is measured at the grant date based on the value of the award and is recognized as expense over the vesting period. Under SFAS No. 123-R, we are required to use judgment in estimating the amount of stock-based awards that are expected to be forfeited. If actual forfeitures differ significantly from the original estimate, stock-based compensation expense and our results of operations could be materially impacted.
Prior to the adoption of SFAS No. 123-R, we accounted for stock-based employee compensation plans (including shares issued under our stock option plans and ESPP) in accordance with Accounting Principles Board Opinion No. 25, Accounting for Stock Issued to Employees and its related interpretations (APB No. 25), and followed the pro forma net income, pro forma income per share, and stock-based compensation plan disclosure requirements set forth in SFAS No. 123, Accounting for Stock-Based Compensation. All other types of equity awards were previously accounted for in accordance with SFAS No. 123.
The fair values of all stock options granted subsequent to April 1, 2005, were estimated using a binomial model and the fair values of all options granted prior to April 1, 2005, and all ESPP shares were estimated using the Black-Scholes-Merton option pricing model. Both the binomial and the Black-Scholes-Merton models require the input of highly subjective assumptions.
New Accounting Standards
In July 2006, the FASB issued FASB Interpretation No. 48 (FIN No. 48), Accounting for Uncertainty in Income Taxes, an interpretation of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 109, Accounting for Income Taxes. FIN No. 48 clarifies the accounting for income taxes by prescribing the minimum recognition threshold a tax position is required to meet before being recognized in the financial statements. FIN No. 48 also provides guidance on derecognition, measurement, classification, interest and penalties, accounting in interim periods, disclosure and transition. The interpretation applies to all tax positions related to income taxes subject to SFAS No. 109. FIN No. 48 is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2006. Differences between the amounts recognized in the statements of financial position prior to the adoption of FIN No. 48 and the amounts reported after adoption should be accounted for as a cumulative-effect adjustment recorded to the beginning balance of retained earnings. We are currently evaluating the impact the adoption of FIN No. 48 could have on our consolidated financial statements.
In September 2006, the FASB issued SFAS No. 157, Fair Value Measurements. SFAS No. 157 defines fair value, establishes a framework for measuring fair value in U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and expands disclosures about fair value measurements. SFAS No. 157 is effective for financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after November 15, 2007, and interim periods within those fiscal years. We are currently evaluating the impact the adoption of SFAS No. 157 could have on our consolidated financial statements.