Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)

v3.19.1
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2018
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Consolidation Principles
Consolidation Principles
 
The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the Company and its majority owned subsidiaries over which the Company exercises control. All intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation.
Cash and Cash Equivalents
Cash and Cash Equivalents
 
The Company considers investments with original purchased maturities of three months or less when acquired to be cash equivalents.
Trade Receivables
Trade Receivables
 
Trade receivables consist primarily of amounts due from subscribers for recurring monthly monitoring services over a wide geographical base.  The Company performs extensive credit evaluations on the portfolios of subscriber accounts prior to acquisition and requires no collateral on the accounts that are acquired.  The Company has established an allowance for doubtful accounts for estimated losses resulting from the inability of subscribers to make required payments.  Factors such as historical-loss experience, recoveries and economic conditions are considered in determining the sufficiency of the allowance to cover potential losses. 
Concentration of Credit Risk
Concentration of Credit Risk
 
Financial instruments that potentially subject the Company to significant concentrations of credit risk consist principally of trade accounts receivable.  The Company performs extensive credit evaluations on the portfolios of subscriber accounts prior to acquisition and requires no collateral on the subscriber accounts that are acquired.  Concentrations of credit risk with respect to trade accounts receivable are generally limited due to the large number of subscribers comprising the Company's customer base.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
 
Fair values of cash equivalents, current accounts receivable and current accounts payable approximate the carrying amounts because of their short-term nature. The Company's debt instruments are recorded at amortized cost on the consolidated balance sheet.
Inventories
Inventories

Inventories consist of security system components and parts and are stated at the lower of cost (using the weighted average costing method) or net realizable value.
Property and Equipment
Property and Equipment
 
Property and equipment are carried at cost and depreciated using the straight-line method over the estimated useful lives of the assets. Leasehold improvements are amortized over the shorter of their estimated useful lives or the term of the underlying lease. Estimated useful lives by class of asset are as follows:
Leasehold improvements
 
15 years or lease term, if shorter
Computer systems and software
 
3 - 5 years
Furniture and fixtures
 
5 - 7 years

 
Management reviews the realizability of its property and equipment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. In evaluating the value and future benefits of long-term assets, their carrying value is compared to management’s best estimate of undiscounted future cash flows over the remaining economic life. If such assets are considered to be impaired, the impairment to be recognized is measured by the amount by which the carrying value of the assets exceeds the estimated fair value of the assets.  If necessary, the Company would use both the income approach and market approach to estimate fair value.
Subscriber Accounts
Subscriber Accounts
 
Subscriber accounts primarily relate to the cost of acquiring monitoring service contracts from independent dealers.  The subscriber accounts acquired in the Company's business acquisitions were recorded at fair value under the acquisition method of accounting.  All other acquired subscriber accounts are recorded at cost.  All direct and incremental costs, including bonus incentives related to account activation in the Direct to Consumer Channel, associated with the creation of subscriber accounts, are capitalized. Upon adoption of Topic 606, all costs on new subscriber contracts obtained in connection with a subscriber move ("Moves Costs") are expensed, whereas prior to adoption, certain Moves Costs were capitalized on the balance sheet.
 
The costs of subscriber accounts acquired in the Company's business acquisitions, as well as certain accounts acquired in bulk purchases, are amortized using the 14-year 235% declining balance method.  The costs of all other subscriber accounts are amortized using the 15-year 220% declining balance method, beginning in the month following the date of acquisition.  The amortization methods were selected to provide an approximate matching of the amortization of the subscriber accounts intangible asset to estimated future subscriber revenues based on the projected lives of individual subscriber contracts.  Amortization of subscriber accounts was $204,130,000, $226,697,000 and $236,673,000 for the fiscal years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 respectively.

Based on subscriber accounts held at December 31, 2018, estimated amortization of subscriber accounts in the succeeding five fiscal years ending December 31 is as follows (amounts in thousands):
2019
$
185,338

2020
$
161,949

2021
$
143,426

2022
$
130,246

2023
$
121,634


 
The Company has processes and controls in place, including the review of key performance indicators, to assist management in identifying events or circumstances that indicate the Subscriber Accounts Asset may not be recoverable. If an indicator that the asset may not be recoverable exists, management tests the Subscriber Accounts Asset for impairment. For purposes of recognition and measurement of an impairment loss, the Company views subscriber accounts as a single pool, for each of the Dealer Channel and the Direct to Consumer Channel, because of the assets' homogeneous characteristics, and the pool of subscriber accounts is the lowest level for which identifiable cash flows are largely independent of the cash flows of the other assets and liabilities. If such assets are considered to be impaired, the impairment loss to be recognized is measured as the amount by which the carrying value of the assets exceeds the estimated fair value, as determined using the income approach.
Dealer Networks and Other Intangible Assets
Dealer Network and Other Intangible Assets
 
Dealer network was an intangible asset that related to the dealer relationships that were acquired as part of the Security Networks Acquisition.  Other intangible assets consisted of non-compete agreements signed by the seller of Security Networks and certain key Security Networks executives.  These intangible assets were amortized on a straight-line basis over their estimated useful lives of 5 years. These intangible assets were fully amortized during 2018. The LiveWatch trade mark asset was initially to be amortized over 10 years. Upon the rollout of the Brinks Home Security brand in the second quarter of 2018, it was determined that the LiveWatch trade mark asset had no remaining useful life and the remaining asset balance was amortized.
Goodwill
Goodwill
 
The Company accounts for its goodwill pursuant to the provisions of Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB") Accounting Standards Codification ("ASC") Topic 350, Intangibles-Goodwill and Other ("FASB ASC Topic 350").  In accordance with FASB ASC Topic 350, goodwill is not amortized, but rather tested for impairment at least annually, or earlier if an event occurs, or circumstances change, that indicate the fair value of a reporting unit may be below its carrying amount.
 
The Company assesses the recoverability of the carrying value of goodwill during the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, based on October 31 financial information, or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of the goodwill of a reporting unit may not be fully recoverable. In early June 2018, the reportable segments known as MONI and LiveWatch were combined and presented as Brinks Home Security. As a result of the change in reportable segments, goodwill assigned to these former reporting units was reallocated and combined under the Brinks Home Security reporting unit. Recoverability is measured at the reporting unit level based on the provisions of FASB ASC Topic 350.
 
To the extent necessary, recoverability of goodwill at a reporting unit level is measured using a discounted cash flow model incorporating discount rates commensurate with the risks involved, which is classified as a Level 3 measurement under FASB ASC Topic 820, Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures. The key assumptions used in the discounted cash flow valuation model include discount rates, growth rates, cash flow projections and terminal value rates. Discount rates, growth rates and cash flow projections are the most sensitive and susceptible to change as they require significant management judgment. An impairment charge is recognized for the amount by which the carrying amount exceeds the reporting unit's fair value.
Deferred Financing Costs
Deferred Financing Costs
 
Deferred financing costs are recorded as a reduction to long-term debt when the related debt is issued or when revolving credit lines increase the borrowing capacity of the Company.  Deferred financing costs are amortized over the term of the related debt using the effective interest method.
Holdback Liability
Holdback Liability

The Company typically withholds payment of a designated percentage of the acquisition cost when it acquires subscriber accounts from dealers.  The withheld funds are recorded as a liability until the guarantee period provided by the dealer has expired.  The holdback is used as a reserve to cover any terminated subscriber accounts that are not replaced by the dealer during the guarantee period.  At the end of the guarantee period, the dealer is responsible for any deficit or is paid the balance of the holdback.
Derivatives Financial Instruments
Derivative Financial Instruments

The Company uses derivative financial instruments to manage exposure to movement in interest rates. The use of these financial instruments modifies the exposure of these risks with the intention of reducing the risk or cost. The Company does not use derivatives for speculative or trading purposes. The Company recognizes the fair value of all derivative instruments as either assets or liabilities at fair value on the consolidated balance sheets. Fair value is based on market quotes for similar instruments with the same duration. For derivative instruments that qualify for hedge accounting under the provisions of FASB ASC Topic 815, Derivatives and Hedging, unrealized gains and losses on the derivative instruments are reported in Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss), to the extent the hedges are effective, until the underlying transactions are recognized in earnings.  Derivative instruments that do not qualify for hedge accounting are marked to market at the end of each accounting period with the change in fair value recorded in earnings.
Revenue Recognition
Revenue Recognition
 
Revenue is generated from security alarm monitoring and related services provided by the Company.
Income Taxes
Income Taxes
 
The Company accounts for income taxes under FASB ASC Topic 740, Income Taxes ("FASB ASC Topic 740"), which prescribes an asset and liability approach that requires the recognition of deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of events that have been recognized in the Company's consolidated financial statements or tax returns. In estimating future tax consequences, the Company generally considers all expected future events other than proposed changes in the tax law or rates. Valuation allowances are established when necessary to reduce deferred tax assets to the amount expected to be realized.  Income tax expense is the tax payable or refundable for the period plus or minus the change during the period in deferred tax assets and liabilities.
 
FASB ASC Topic 740 specifies the accounting for uncertainty in income taxes recognized in a company's consolidated financial statements and prescribes a recognition threshold and measurement attribute for the financial statement recognition and measurement of a tax position taken or expected to be taken in a tax return.  In instances where the Company has taken or expects to take a tax position in its tax return and the Company believes it is more likely than not that such tax position will be upheld by the relevant taxing authority, the Company records the benefits of such tax position in its consolidated financial statements.
Share-Based Compensation
Share-Based Compensation
 
The Company accounts for share-based awards pursuant to FASB ASC Topic 718, Compensation-Stock Compensation ("FASB ASC Topic 718"), which requires companies to measure the cost of employee services received in exchange for an award of equity instruments (such as stock options and restricted stock) based on the grant-date fair value of the award, and to recognize that cost over the period during which the employee is required to provide service (usually the vesting period of the award). Forfeitures of awards are recognized as they occur.
 
The grant-date fair value of the Ascent Capital stock options granted to the Company’s employees was calculated using the Black-Scholes model. The expected term of the awards was calculated using the simplified method included in FASB ASC Topic 718. The volatility used in the calculation is based on the historical volatility of Ascent Capital and peer companies while the risk-free rate is based on Treasury Bonds with a term similar to that of the subject options.
Estimates
Estimates
 
The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to make estimates, assumptions and judgments that affect the reported amounts of revenue and expenses for each reporting period.  The significant estimates made in preparation of the Company's consolidated financial statements primarily relate to valuation of subscriber accounts, deferred tax assets and goodwill. These estimates are based on management's best estimates and judgment. Management evaluates its estimates and assumptions on an ongoing basis using historical experience and other factors and adjusts them when facts and circumstances change. As the effects of future events cannot be determined with any certainty, actual results could differ from the estimates upon which the carrying values were based.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
Recent Accounting Pronouncements

In February 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (the "FASB") issued ASU 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842) ("ASU 2016-02"). ASU 2016-02 requires the lessee to recognize assets and liabilities for leases with lease terms of more than twelve months. For leases with a term of twelve months or less, the Company is permitted to make an accounting policy election by class of underlying asset not to recognize lease assets and lease liabilities. Recognition, measurement and presentation of expenses will depend on classification as a finance or operating lease. ASU 2016-02 requires a lessee of a finance lease to recognize interest expense and amortization expense of the associated asset. A lessee of an operating lease recognizes lease expense on a straight line basis over the lease term. ASU 2016-02 is effective for annual and interim reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2018. ASU 2018-10, Codification Improvements to Topic 842, Leases, clarifies certain aspects of ASU 2016-12 and the two updates will be adopted concurrently. ASU 2016-02 requires leases to be recognized and measured at the beginning of the earliest period presented using a modified retrospective approach upon adoption. However, ASU 2018-11, Leases (Topic 842): Targeted Improvements provides an alternative transition method by which leases are recognized at the date of adoption and a cumulative-effect adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings is recognized in the period of adoption. We plan to adopt using this alternative and are currently evaluating the impact that these standards will have on our financial position, results of operations and cash flows.