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Earnings Could Rise Under Tentative FASB 'Goodwill' Rule

By John S. McClenahen In another apparent step toward eliminating so-called pooling-of-interests accounting for mergers and acquisitions, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) is moving to make "purchasing" accounting a more attractive option. The Norwalk, Conn.-based panel is proposing to limit the circumstances under which acquiring companies would have to amortize, for as many as 40 years, the premiums they pay for the firms they buy. Goodwill is the accounting term for the difference between the current market value of assets and the amount paid for them, and the practical effect of the proposal will be to boost a company's reported earnings -- assuming the rest of the balance sheet remains the same. The FASB plans to issue a final rule on pooling-of-interests accounting and goodwill by midyear.

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