Your Quarterly E-Zine
Edition 11 • December 2019

This website contains the latest edition of Forsyth Barr Focus, a quarterly on-line magazine written by senior members of Forsyth Barr's investment team.

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‘Accounting standard changes’ three words that would send many of us to sleep, for very understandable reasons. However, grab a cup of coffee because International Financial Reporting Standard 16, also known as IFRS16 is important enough for investors to stay awake for.

The simple aim is to improve the financial reporting of leases, yet it represents the biggest change to accounting standards in over a decade. So what exactly is IFRS16?

Previously, under the old lease accounting standard (IAS 17), leases were categorised as either financial leases or operating leases. Financial leases were included on the balance sheet whilst operating leases were not.

Operating leases were included in the notes to the financial statements with no impact whatsoever on the balance sheet. IFRS16 will now effectively bring operating leases onto the balance sheet (and will therefore be treated like finance leases) with the aim of improving the comparability between companies that borrow to buy assets (a financial lease) and those that lease assets (an operating lease).

Whilst this doesn’t sound like a substantial change, it will have a significant impact on the balance sheet of those companies with large operating lease exposure such as retailers. Below we summarise the major implications from the adoption of IFRS16:

  • We estimate that at least NZ$7.8bn of debt will need to be capitalised on the balance sheet from the companies in the Forsyth Barr coverage universe, a +24% increase on current debt levels.
  • We anticipate that EBITDA for the market will increase by an estimated ~+16%, although we note the range of outcomes for companies varies considerably.
  • On adoption we estimate that NPAT will decrease for most companies with an average impact of ~-4%.
  • A side effect is the impact on commonly used valuation multiples, with EV/EBITDA, EV/EBIT and PE all affected. We anticipate EV/EBITDA multiples will decrease by ~-0.4x and EV/EBIT and PE multiples will increase by ~+0.8x and ~1.0x respectively.
  • The sector most impacted by IFRS16 is retail but building, transport, healthcare and agri sectors will also all be significantly impacted. The least impacted sectors are property, energy and aged care.

Whilst there is a change in how companies report operating leases, there is no impact on a company’s commitment to pay the lease.

It is important to note that IFRS16 is only an accounting change so theoretically it should have no impact on valuation.

IFRS16 will be effective from annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2019. That means companies with their financial year ending in December will have to adopt in FY19 and for all other year ends (March, June etc.) adoption will be in FY20. Our report Lease Liabilities Loom Large, dated 3 October 2018 should be reviewed for further information regarding IFRS16. This report includes sector-by-sector commentary on the impacts of IFRS16 – Go grab another coffee!

Andy Bowley
Head of Research

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