Company accounts have generally come through Covid-19 in good shape, but the impact of the pandemic has shown up in the form of inventory build-up and asset impairment, PwC's chief risk officer, Karen Shires, says.
Shires said at the start of the pandemic company accounts were set to take a battering, but in an interview this week she said many had been resilient, often aided by a quick and ready appetite for new capital and relaxed NZX rules to speed up the capital-raising process.
She said there had generally been improved transparency in financial reports.
Disclosures have been more detailed, particularly in explaining the impact of Covid-19, Shires said.
Many of those NZX-listed companies who reported their results from July through to December were impacted by level 4 and 3 Covid-19 lockdowns, but some were able to capture the rebound.
"Qualified" audit reports were rare, but the number of key audit matters (KAMs) increased sharply around issues of asset impairment of goodwill, other intangible assets, and receivables.
"We have also started to see, in some entities, higher levels of inventory - that's definitely a supply chain issue.
"Clearly there is more working capital tied up in inventory," she said.
"There are risks around obsolescence, risks around whether they can actually move that stock on, and the net realisable value."
Shires said more inventory issues may lie ahead, given the ongoing supply chain challenges that many companies face.
Broadly, there had been a willingness among directors and managers to get involved early when the financial impact of the pandemic was becoming clear.
"What I would like to see is that this level of transparency in financial reporting continue because I think that it's been highly beneficial for investors," Shires said.
PwC, in a report, focused on 12 NZX-listed companies who reported from July to December.
Of the 12 reporters in this group, six originally claimed the wage subsidy and all but three had returned the amounts received prior to their year-end.
Of the three that did not return the subsidy, about $54.6 million was claimed.
Only one of these three reporters realised a net loss for the year.
"It is likely that the other businesses who claimed the subsidy would have reduced their employee numbers quickly if it hadn't been available and therefore the subsidy most likely supported the ongoing employment of staff and the stability of the business," the report said.
PwC commented that there was no consistency in how the wage subsidy was disclosed in financial statements - accounting standards permit a company to either report the subsidy as other income or as a reduction of expenses.
More July to December reporters declared a dividend than the June reporters. Only five did not.
The impact of Covid-19 had been most evident for cinema software company Vista, PwC said.
The Vista board moved swiftly with a capital raise of $65.1m in April and was able to negotiate a loosening in banking covenants.
At the end of the year, revenue was down 39 per cent to $87.5m, with impairments of $28.4m including a $13.7 write-down of the investment in Vista China and a goodwill writedown of $11.6m.
In addition, a further $19.4m, an increase of $18.2m, in accrued revenues and trade receivable provisions were raised.
Overall provisioning of 36.3 per cent is held against accrued revenue and trade receivables.
All of this contributed to a net loss of $56.7m against a net profit of $12.8m in 2019.
PwC also highlighted the NZX's net profit after tax of $17.6m, up 20.1 per cent on 2019, having benefited from a record level of market activity – particularly during the March/April 2020 lockdowns.
In those months many businesses rushed to strengthen their balance sheets with equity raises and the NZX experienced a 149 per cent increase in volumes traded.
More than $5 billion in capital was raised on the secondary market in the 90 days from the beginning of April.
Other notable mentions from financial reports included ANZ New Zealand recording a $345m higher impairment charge related to lending in line with other retail banks.
Fishing company Sanford secured an additional $40m of bank facilities in May 2020.
Sanford's net profit was down 46 per cent on the prior year with lower prices for wildcatch and revenue from a lower value product mix.
Dairy company Synlait, along with other primary producers, were seeing increases in finished good inventory holdings due to supply chain disruption.