Walmart makes significant investments in operating capacity, primarily via investments in property, plant, and equipment, but also via investments in wholly and partially owned subsidiaries. Walmart also has significant non-U.S. operations in its Walmart International segment. The Chapter 8 online appendix provides Walmart's January 31, 2016, Consolidated Financial Statements and accompanying notes, which describe these significant investments.
a. Estimate the average total estimated useful life of depreciable property, plant, and equipment. Does the estimate reconcile with stated accounting policy on useful lives for property, plant, and equipment? Explain.
b. How should an analyst interpret fluctuations in this estimate for a given company over time? How should an analyst interpret differences in this estimate between a company and its competitors?
c. Estimate the average age of depreciable assets, the percentage of PP&E that has been used up, and the remaining useful life. How might an analyst use this information?
d. Has Walmart recognized impairment of property, plant, and equipment or goodwill during the fiscal year ending January 31, 2016? Why is it important for the analyst to know the answer to this question?
e. Under U.S. GAAP, the impairment tests for goodwill and PP&E are different. Describe the main difference.
f. Walmart must consolidate subsidiaries that are partially owned. Evidence of this fact can be found in the income statement, the balance sheet, and the statement of cash flows, where non controlling interests in net income, non controlling interest in net assets, and cash flows related to non controlling interests are referenced. Explain the meaning of the non controlling interest in net income and the non controlling interest in net assets.
g. Generally speaking, firms, including firms that are partially owned subsidiaries, pay out only a portion of their net income during a period (i.e., the dividend payout ratio is generally less than one). The January 31, 2016, balance sheet reports a decrease in non controlling interest in net assets. Do other statements (and note information) provide evidence as to what might have happened?
h. What was the gain or loss from foreign currency translation for the year ended January 31, 2016? Where is it reported, and what is the rationale for reporting it there?
i. What happened to foreign exchange rates during the year?