Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)
12 Months Ended
Aug. 31, 2015
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Nature of Operations
Nature of Operations:    Actuant Corporation (“Actuant” or the “Company”) is a global manufacturer of a broad range of industrial products and systems, organized into three reportable segments. The Industrial segment is primarily engaged in the design, manufacture and distribution of branded hydraulic and mechanical tools to the maintenance, industrial, infrastructure and production automation markets. The Energy segment provides joint integrity products and services, customized offshore mooring solutions, as well as rope and cable solutions to the global oil & gas, power generation and energy markets. The Engineered Solutions segment provides highly engineered position and motion control systems to OEMs in various vehicle markets, as well as a variety of other products to the industrial and agriculture markets.
Consolidation and Presentation
Consolidation and Presentation:    The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the Company and its subsidiaries, all of which are wholly-owned. The results of companies acquired or disposed of during the year are included in the consolidated financial statements from the effective date of acquisition or until the date of divestiture. All intercompany balances, transactions and profits have been eliminated in consolidation. Certain prior year amounts have been reclassified to conform to current year presentation.
Cash Equivalents
Cash Equivalents:    The Company considers all highly liquid investments with original maturities of 90 days or less to be cash equivalents.
Inventories:    Inventories are comprised of material, direct labor and manufacturing overhead, and are stated at the lower of cost or market. Inventory cost is determined using the last-in, first-out (“LIFO”) method for a portion of the U.S. owned inventory (approximately 22.6% and 20.6% of total inventories in both 2015 and 2014, respectively). The first-in, first-out or average cost methods are used for all other inventories. If the LIFO method were not used, inventory balances would be higher than the amounts in the consolidated balance sheets by $5.6 million and $5.7 million at August 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively.
The nature of the Company’s products is such that they generally have a very short production cycle. Consequently, the amount of work-in-process at any point in time is minimal. In addition, many parts or components are ultimately either sold individually or assembled with other parts making a distinction between raw materials and finished goods impractical to determine. Other locations maintain and manage their inventories using a job cost system where the distinction of categories of inventory by state of completion is also not available. As a result of these factors, it is neither practical nor cost effective to segregate the amounts of raw materials, work-in-process or finished goods inventories at the respective balance sheet dates, as segregation would only be possible as the result of physical inventories which are taken at dates different from the balance sheet dates.
Property, Plant and Equipment
Property, Plant and Equipment:    Property, plant and equipment are stated at cost. Plant and equipment are depreciated on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful lives of the assets, ranging from ten to forty years for buildings and improvements and two to fifteen years for machinery and equipment. Equipment includes assets (marine mooring equipment and joint integrity tools) which are rented to customers and asset owners in the Energy segment. Leasehold improvements are amortized over the life of the related asset or the term of the lease, whichever is shorter.
Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets
Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets:    Other intangible assets with definite lives, consisting primarily of purchased customer relationships, patents, trademarks and non-compete agreements, are amortized over periods from two to twenty-five years. Goodwill and other intangible assets with indefinite lives are not subject to amortization, but are subject to annual impairment testing.
The Company’s goodwill is tested for impairment annually, during the fourth quarter, or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate that goodwill might be impaired. The Company performs impairment reviews for its reporting units using a fair value method based on management’s judgments and assumptions. In estimating the fair value, the Company utilizes a discounted cash flow model, which is dependent on a number of assumptions including estimated future revenues and expenses, weighted average cost of capital, capital expenditures and other variables. The estimated fair value of the reporting unit is compared to the carrying amount of the reporting unit, including goodwill. If the carrying value of the reporting unit exceeds its fair value, the goodwill is potentially impaired and the Company then determines the implied fair value of goodwill, which is compared to the carrying value to determine if impairment exists. Indefinite lived intangible assets are also subject to an annual impairment test. On an annual basis, or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate that the asset might be impaired, the fair value of the indefinite lived intangible assets are evaluated by the Company to determine if an impairment charge is required. A considerable amount of management judgment is required in performing the impairment tests, principally in determining the fair value of each reporting unit and the indefinite lived intangible assets.
Product Warranty Costs
Product Warranty Costs:    The Company generally offers its customers a warranty on products sold, although warranty periods may vary by product type and application. The reserve for future warranty claims is based on historical claim rates and current warranty cost experience. The following is a reconciliation of the changes in product warranty reserves for fiscal years 2015 and 2014 (in thousands):
Beginning balance


Warranty reserve of acquired business


Product line divestiture

Provision for warranties


Warranty payments and costs incurred
Impact of changes in foreign currency rates

Ending balance


Revenue Recognition
Revenue Recognition:    The Company recognizes revenue when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, delivery has occurred, the sales price is fixed or determinable and collectability of the sales price is reasonably assured. For product sales, delivery does not occur until the passage of title and risk of loss have transferred to the customer (generally when products are shipped). Revenue from services and rental contracts are recognized when the services are provided or ratably over the contract term. Unearned revenue related to long-term customer contracts was $8.3 million and $5.0 million at August 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively. Customer sales are recorded net of allowances for returns and discounts, which are recognized as a deduction from sales at the time of sale. The Company commits to one-time or on-going trade discounts and promotions with customers that require the Company to estimate and accrue the ultimate costs of such programs. The Company generally does not require collateral or other security for receivables and provides for an allowance for doubtful accounts based on historical experience and a review of its existing receivables. Accounts receivable are stated net of an allowance for doubtful accounts of $4.0 million and $6.0 million at August 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively.
Shipping and Handling Costs
Shipping and Handling Costs:    The Company records costs associated with shipping its products in cost of products sold.
Restructuring: The Company has committed to various restructuring initiatives including workforce reductions, plant consolidations to reduce manufacturing overhead, the continued movement of production and product sourcing to low cost countries and the centralization of certain selling and administrative functions. Total restructuring charges for these activities were $5.9 million in fiscal 2015 and impacted all segments. The Company expects to incur an additional $25.0 million of restructuring charges in fiscal 2016 and 2017.
Research and Development Costs
Research and Development Costs:    Research and development costs consist primarily of an allocation of overall engineering and development resources and are expensed as incurred. Such costs incurred in the development of new products or significant improvements to existing products were $17.7 million, $20.0 million and $21.0 million in fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively. The Company also incurs significant costs in connection with fulfilling custom orders and developing solutions for unique customer needs which are not included in these research and development expense totals.
Other Income/Expense
Other Income/Expense:    Other income and expense primarily consists of foreign exchange transaction gains and losses of $0.1 million, $4.2 million and $2.7 million in fiscal 2015, 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Financing Costs
Financing Costs:    Financing costs represent interest expense, financing fees and amortization of debt issuance costs, net of interest income.
Income Taxes
Income Taxes:    The provision for income taxes includes federal, state, local and non-U.S. taxes on income. Tax credits, primarily for non-U.S. earnings, are recognized as a reduction of the provision for income taxes in the year in which they are available for U.S. tax purposes. Deferred taxes are provided on temporary differences between assets and liabilities for financial and tax reporting purposes as measured by enacted tax rates expected to apply when temporary differences are settled or realized. Future tax benefits are recognized to the extent that realization of those benefits is considered to be more likely than not. A valuation allowance is established for deferred tax assets for which realization is not more likely than not of being realized. The Company has not provided for any residual U.S. income taxes on unremitted earnings of non-U.S. subsidiaries as such earnings are intended to be indefinitely reinvested. The Company recognizes interest and penalties related to unrecognized tax benefits in income tax expense.
Foreign Currency Translation
Foreign Currency Translation:    The financial statements of the Company’s foreign operations are translated into U.S. dollars using the exchange rate at each balance sheet date for assets and liabilities and an appropriate weighted average exchange rate for each applicable period for revenues and expenses. Translation adjustments are reflected in the consolidated balance sheets and consolidated statements of shareholders' equity caption “Accumulated Other Comprehensive Loss.”
Use of Estimates
Use of Estimates:    The Company has recorded reserves, asset write downs or allowances for customer rebates, returns and discounts, doubtful accounts, inventory, incurred but not reported medical claims, environmental matters, warranty claims, workers compensation claims, product and non-product litigation and incentive compensation. These reserves require the use of estimates and judgment. The Company bases its estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances. The Company believes that such estimates are made with consistent and appropriate assumptions. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.
New Accounting Pronouncements
New Accounting Pronouncements: In April 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") issued Accounting Standard Update (ASU) 2014-08, Reporting Discontinued Operations and Disclosures of Disposals of Components of an Entity, which includes amendments that change the requirements for reporting discontinued operations and requires additional disclosures about discontinued operations. Under the new guidance, only disposals representing a strategic shift in operations should be presented as discontinued operations. The guidance is effective for annual periods beginning on or after December 15, 2014. The adoption of this standard is not expected to have a material impact on the financial statements of the Company.
In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Under ASU 2014-09, an entity will recognize revenue when it transfers promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects what it expects in exchange for the goods or services. It also requires more detailed disclosures to enable users of financial statements to understand the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from contracts with customers. This guidance is effective for annual periods beginning on or after December 15, 2017. The Company is currently evaluating the impact of adopting this standard.
In April 2015, the FASB issued ASU 2015-03, Interest-Imputation of Interest (Subtopic 835-30): Simplifying the Presentation of Debt Issuance Costs, which includes amendments that require that debt issuance costs related to a recognized debt liability be presented in the balance sheet as a direct deduction from the carrying amount of that debt liability, consistent with debt discounts. Under the new guidance, the recognition and measurement of debt issuance costs is not affected. This guidance is effective for annual periods beginning on or after December 15, 2015. The adoption of this standard is not expected to have a material impact on the financial statements of the Company.
In September 2015, the FASB issued ASU 2015-16, Business Combinations (Topic 805): Simplifying the Accounting for Measurement-Period Adjustments, which eliminates the requirement to retrospectively account for changes to provisional amounts initially recorded in a business acquisition opening balance sheet. This guidance is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2015, including interim periods within fiscal years. The adoption of this standard is not expected to have a material impact on the financial statements of the Company.