Northrop Grumman announces change in pension accounting
Northrop Grumman is changing its method of accounting for pension and other post-retirement benefits to a more preferable method under U.S. GAAP. Beginning with Dec. 31, 2018 results, the company will adopt the mark-to-market method of accounting. Under MTM accounting, the company now plans to recognize pension and OPEB actuarial gains and losses, largely related to changes in discount rates and differences between expected and actual plan asset returns, in the fourth quarter of the year they are incurred rather than amortizing them over time. The elimination of amortization of gains and losses is expected to increase 2018 pre-tax earnings by $535M before the fourth quarter 2018 MTM adjustment. Assuming a 4.25% discount rate and zero percent plan asset returns in 2018, the increase in 2018 pre-tax earnings resulting from the elimination of amortization would be partially offset by a fourth quarter 2018 MTM adjustment of approximately $500M. The actual fourth quarter 2018 MTM adjustment will largely be determined based on actual 2018 plan asset returns and the year-end discount rate. For 2019, the adoption of the MTM method is expected to increase the company's net FAS/CAS adjustment to $1.35B from $750M, and increase pre-tax earnings by approximately $600M, before any fourth quarter 2019 MTM adjustment. The increase reflects the elimination of future amortization of actuarial gains and losses. Northrop Grumman will provide recast prior period financial statements, reflecting the effects of the adoption of the MTM method as described above, when it reports its fourth quarter and full year 2018 earnings results on January 31, 2019.