Of the 100 largest lessees in U.S. capital markets, 76 percent are saying the adoption of new lease accounting rules will produce a material effect on the balance sheet, while 20 percent are still assessing.
The analysis by software provider LeaseAccelerator Inc. also finds only 8 percent of companies have put a dollar figure on the material effect they expect, and it ranges from $1.2 billion to $13 billion. More than one-fourth of the same companies said they are not expecting the impact to be material to their income statements.
The report compiles 10-K and 10-Q disclosures by the top 100 public companies in terms of their total lease obligations as provided in footnote disclosures. Those disclosures will get elevated out of the footnotes in 2019 as public companies adopt a new accounting standard that requires companies to reflect lease-related assets and liabilities on the face of the financial statements.
Companies are making the disclosures in compliance with a Securities and Exchange Commission requirement under Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 74 to give investors some advance warning about how they expect to be affected by the adoption of new accounting standards. Estimates quantifying the effect of adopting the new lease rules have varied, but experts have said it will gross up corporate balance sheets by trillions of dollars.
LeaseAccelerator says only one of the top 100 leasing companies, Microsoft, adopted the standards earlier than required. The company elected to adopt both the leasing standard and the new revenue recognition standard at the same time, effective July 1, 2017. Early adoption is an option under both standards, but few are doing so with either standard given the enormity of the effort.
The disclosure analysis finds only 18 percent of those 100 largest lessees are evaluating or implementing new policies and controls to facilitate the new accounting. Another 18 percent are evaluating or selecting software applications, and 13 percent formed a project team to address implementation of the new standard.
Those numbers are not terribly different from survey data produced recently by KPMG, which found in February that only 15 percent of companies had completed their work to prepare for the new standard, and only 45 percent said they otherwise had implementation plans in progress. The rest were planning, assessing, or not yet doing anything to adopt the new rules. LeaseAccelerator also produced a survey that showed companies are struggling to implement the new rules.