Big bath and goodwill impairment

Cristina Gonçalves, Leonor Ferreira, Efigénio Rebelo, Joaquim Santana Fernandes


Purpose – To analyze the extent to which recognition of impairments in goodwill is associated with periods of negative results before these losses (big bath practices). To determine whether indebtedness and the capital market restrict the recognition of such losses in big bath practices.


Design/methodology/approach Quantitative empirical study based on accounting and market data of companies listed on the Lisbon and Madrid stock exchanges (2007-2015), supported by multivariate regression models estimated using the generalized moments method (system GMM).


Findings Impairment in goodwill is relevant in big bath practices, and there is great discretion in the use of this accrual. It can be concluded that companies adjust to capital market cycles. The positive relationship between the level of indebtedness and the impairment in goodwill suggests that any penalties from creditors do not condition the recognition of the impairments.


Originality/value There is evidence of big bath practices being associated with companies with negative results and of the role of debt and capital markets as explanatory factors of big bath strategies that use impairments in goodwill.


Goodwill impairment, Big bath, Indebtedness, Capital market


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