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Goodwill is an intangible asset that arises when one company acquires another for a price higher than the fair market value of its net tangible assets. It represents intangible factors like a company’s reputation, customer relationships, or brand which contribute to earning power. Goodwill is often seen in balance sheets, and it might be reduced over time through amortization or if the acquired company underperforms.


The phonetics of the keyword “Goodwill” is /ˈɡʊdˌwɪl/.

Key Takeaways

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Goodwill is an important term in business finance as it represents the non-tangible assets that add value to a company, including brand reputation, customer relationships, and intellectual property. If a company is purchased, the price often exceeds the physical assets’ value, and this excess is classified as goodwill. It’s a key indicator of a business’s potential to make profits above the average return on investment in the future. As such, it plays a significant role in determining a company’s market value during mergers or acquisitions and can greatly influence investor decision making. It’s also essential for financial reporting and potential tax advantages. Without goodwill, the measurable value of a company would be limited to its physical assets and quantifiable resources, which is often far less than its true worth.


Goodwill represents a somewhat intangible asset that is identified when a company purchases another business for more than the fair market value of its individual assets and liabilities. Essentially, it is the premium that companies are willing to pay for a business that has loyal customers, strong reputation, outstanding employee relations, and other similar advantages associated with the business. Goodwill is intended to reflect the value of a company’s brand name, customer base, positive employee relations, patents or proprietary technology, and anything else that gives the company a competitive edge.From a financial perspective, goodwill comes into focus when evaluating a company’s total worth, especially in a situation like an acquisition or merger. Often, it is a crucial element that can greatly influence a company’s market value. When one business acquires another, the amount it pays is often greater than the book value of the firm, which could be due to the perception of the firm’s brand name or reputation. Goodwill is thus recorded under the company’s balance sheet as a long-term asset and can have implications for the company’s financial health and future profitability. Accountants often review and adjust goodwill for any impairment, which could decrease a company’s net worth. This is done to ensure a more accurate representation of the company’s value.


1. Google’s Acquisition of YouTube: In November 2006, Google purchased YouTube for approximately $1.65 billion in stock. At the time, YouTube had little tangible assets and wasn’t making any profit. However, Google paid a premium because of YouTube’s strong user base, brand recognition, and potential for future earnings. The difference between the purchase price and the net identifiable assets was recorded as goodwill on Google’s balance sheet.2. Disney’s Acquisition of Pixar: In 2006, Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar Animation Studios for $7.4 billion. Pixar’s physical assets, like office buildings and equipment, and tangible assets only represented a small fraction of the purchase price. The substantial fee mainly represented the Pixar’s reputation, creative team, intellectual property and future projected earnings, which was logged as goodwill in Disney’s financial record. 3. Microsoft’s Acquisition of LinkedIn: Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016. This amount was significantly higher than LinkedIn’s tangible and identifiable intangible assets. Microsoft recognized the value of LinkedIn’s established business relationships, strong user base, and data insights on the workforce, which would boost Microsoft’s own services. The surplus of the purchase price was accounted as goodwill on Microsoft’s balance sheet.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Goodwill in business finance?

Goodwill is an intangible asset that represents the non-physical assets, such as brand name, customer relationships, and corporate reputation, that a company gains when it acquires another business.

How is Goodwill calculated?

Goodwill is calculated by subtracting the fair market value of a company’s net tangible assets from the total purchase price of the business.

Is Goodwill always positive?

No, Goodwill can be negative if the purchase price is less than the fair market value of the net tangible assets. This is known as a bargain purchase.

Why is Goodwill important in finance?

Goodwill is important because it can significantly increase a company’s value and play a part in long-term business strategy.

How often is Goodwill evaluated?

According to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), companies are required to perform an impairment test at least once a year to assess the value of Goodwill.

Can Goodwill be sold or transferred separately from the business?

No, Goodwill cannot be sold or separately transferred as it is inherently linked to the company. When a company is sold, it will be included in the sale price.

If a company I invested in has high Goodwill, is it a positive or negative sign?

It might be positive, indicating that the company has value in its intangible assets such as customer relationships, brand recognition, and corporate reputation. However, a very high goodwill value might also indicate that the company overpaid for its acquisitions.

Why can Goodwill become impaired?

Goodwill can become impaired due to numerous reasons such as economic downturn, increasing competition, loss of key personnel, or poor management decisions, which could decrease the expected cash flows from the acquired assets.

What happens when Goodwill is impaired?

Impairment of Goodwill leads to a write-down, which directly impacts the company’s balance sheet by reducing the value of its assets and thereby its equity. Also, it results in a non-cash charge to the income statement, which can significantly impact reported earnings.

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