This post is to lay the groundwork for understanding what Nintendo actually said about Pokemon Go last Friday.
There are three basic ways to account for companies that a firm owns an interest of less than 100% in another firm.
–the cost method. This is used when the firm whose financial reports we’re talking about has neither influence nor control over the operations of the enterprise held. A good rule of thumb is that this means a holding of less than 20% of the outstanding shares.
In this situation, the holding is listed on the balance sheet as a long-term investment at acquisition cost.
Under normal circumstances, the income statement contains no accounting of the holding’s financial results.
Two exceptions: dividends paid are recorded as income; if the asset is impaired, the loss is shown on the income statement.
On the other hand, if the value of the holding increases, there’s no reflection of this in the owner’s financials. Yes, accounting theory says the holding value should be adjusted periodically for changes in the investment’s fortunes, but as a practical matter this is rarely done.
—equity interests. This is where the holding firm is judged to have influence but not control over the entity held. Typically, this applies to holdings that fall between 20% and 50% ownership of the investment.
If so, the owner records his share of the financial results of the holding on a single line toward the bottom of the income statement. This line is called “Equity Interests” or something like that and is an after-tax aggregate of all such equity interests.
The holder also adjusts the balance sheet value for profits (up), losses (down) and dividends received (down).
—consolidation. This is the case where the holding firm exercises influence and control. The rule of thumb here is that ownership of 50% or higher implies having both.
If the ownership is less than 100%, the consolidating company still reports results–revenues, costs etc.–from operations as if it owned 100%. But it add correcting, after-tax entries, both in the income statement and on the balance sheet, typically labelled “Minority interests” that subtract out the portion of earnings and assets held by others. Again, these are aggregate figures and not broken out holding-by-holding. Minority interests are usually recorded toward the bottom of the income statement, somewhere near the consolidated net income line.
Tomorrow, how this applies to the Nintendo announcement