NOTE 1 - BASIS OF PRESENTATION AND SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
Nature of Business
Founded in 1847, we are the largest and oldest independent iron ore mining company in the United States. We are a major supplier of iron ore pellets to the North American steel industry from our mines and pellet plants located in Michigan and Minnesota. Additionally, we operate an iron ore mining complex in Western Australia. By 2020, we expect to be the sole producer of HBI in the Great Lakes region with the development of our first production plant in Toledo, Ohio.
Significant Accounting Policies
We consider the following policies to be beneficial in understanding the judgments that are involved in the preparation of our consolidated financial statements and the uncertainties that could impact our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. The more significant areas requiring the use of management estimates and assumptions relate to mineral reserves future realizable cash flow; environmental, reclamation and closure obligations; valuation of long-lived assets; valuation of inventory; valuation of post-employment, post-retirement and other employee benefit liabilities; valuation of tax assets; reserves for contingencies and litigation; the fair value of derivative instruments; and the fair value of loans to and accounts receivable from Canadian entities. Actual results could differ from estimates. On an ongoing basis, management reviews estimates. Changes in facts and circumstances may alter such estimates and affect the results of operations and financial position in future periods.
Basis of Consolidation
The consolidated financial statements include our accounts and the accounts of our wholly owned and majority-owned subsidiaries, including the following operations at December 31, 2017:
Status of Operations
1 During 2017, our ownership interest in Tilden and Empire changed. Refer to the Noncontrolling Interests section below for additional information.
Intercompany transactions and balances are eliminated upon consolidation.
Equity Method Investments
Investments in unconsolidated ventures that we have the ability to exercise significant influence over, but not control, are accounted for under the equity method.
Our 23% ownership interest in Hibbing is recorded as an equity method investment. As of December 31, 2017 and 2016, our investment in Hibbing was $11.0 million and $8.7 million, respectively, classified in Other liabilities in the Statements of Consolidated Financial Position.
Our share of equity income (loss) is eliminated against consolidated product inventory upon production, and against Cost of goods sold and operating expenses when sold. This effectively reduces our cost for our share of the mining ventures' production cost, reflecting the cost-based nature of our participation in unconsolidated ventures.
During 2017, our ownership interest in Empire increased to 100% as we reached an agreement to distribute the noncontrolling interest net assets of $132.7 million to ArcelorMittal, in exchange for its interest in Empire. The parties agreed that the net assets were to be distributed in three installments of $44.2 million each, the first of which was paid upon the execution of the agreement and the remaining distributions are due in August 2018 and August 2019. Upon payment of the first installment, we assumed ArcelorMittal's 21% interest and have reflected this ownership percentage change in our consolidated financial statements. We accounted for the increase in ownership as an equity transaction, which resulted in a net $12.1 million decrease in equity attributable to Cliffs' shareholders and a $116.7 million decrease in Noncontrolling interest. The net loss and income attributable to the noncontrolling interest of the Empire mining venture was $3.9 million and $25.2 million for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
During 2017, we also acquired the remaining 15% equity interest in Tilden owned by U.S. Steel for $105.0 million. With the closing of this transaction, we now have 100% ownership of the mine. We accounted for the increase in ownership as an equity transaction, which resulted in an $89.1 million decrease in equity attributable to Cliffs' shareholders and a $15.9 million decrease in Noncontrolling interest.
Noncontrolling interest is also comprised of the 17.2% noncontrolling interest in the Bloom Lake operations, through the CCAA filing on January 27, 2015. Financial results prior to the deconsolidation of the Bloom Lake Group and subsequent expenses directly associated with the Canadian Entities are included in our financial statements. There was no net income or loss attributable to the noncontrolling interest related to Bloom Lake for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016. See NOTE 14 - DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS for further information.
Cash and cash equivalents include cash on hand and on deposit as well as all short-term securities held for the primary purpose of general liquidity. We consider investments in highly liquid debt instruments with an original maturity of three months or less from the date of acquisition and longer maturities when funds can be withdrawn in three months or less without a significant penalty to be cash equivalents. We routinely monitor and evaluate counterparty credit risk related to the financial institutions in which our short-term investment securities are held.
Trade Accounts Receivable and Allowance for Doubtful Accounts
Trade accounts receivable are recorded at the invoiced amount and do not bear interest. The allowance for doubtful accounts is our best estimate of the amount of probable credit losses in our existing accounts receivable. We establish provisions for losses on accounts receivable when it is probable that all or part of the outstanding balance will not be collected. We regularly review our accounts receivable balances and establish or adjust the allowance as necessary using the specific identification method. There was no allowance for doubtful accounts at December 31, 2017 and 2016 and no bad debt expense for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016. There was $7.1 million bad debt expense for the year ended December 31, 2015.
U.S. Iron Ore
U.S. Iron Ore product inventories are stated at the lower of cost or market. Cost of iron ore inventories is determined using the LIFO method.
We had 1.5 million long tons of finished goods stored at ports and customer facilities on the lower Great Lakes to service customers at December 31, 2017 and 2016. We maintain ownership of the inventories until title has transferred to the customer, usually when payment is received. Maintaining ownership of the iron ore products at ports on the lower Great Lakes reduces risk of non-payment by customers.
Asia Pacific Iron Ore
Asia Pacific Iron Ore product inventories are stated at the lower of cost or net realizable value. Iron ore inventories are valued on a weighted average cost basis. We maintain ownership of the inventories until title has transferred to the customer, which generally is when the product is loaded into the vessel.
Supplies and Other Inventories
Supply inventories include replacement parts, fuel, chemicals and other general supplies, which are expected to be used or consumed in normal operations. Supply inventories also include critical spares. Critical spares are replacement parts for equipment that is critical for the continued operation of the mine or processing facilities.
Supply inventories are stated at the lower of cost or net realizable value using average cost, less an allowance for obsolete and surplus items. The allowance for obsolete and surplus items was $16.0 million and $14.0 million at December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Derivative Financial Instruments and Hedging Activities
We are exposed to certain risks related to the ongoing operations of our business, including those caused by changes in commodity prices, interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates. We have established policies and procedures, including the use of certain derivative instruments, to manage such risks, if deemed necessary.
Derivative financial instruments are recognized as either assets or liabilities in the Statements of Consolidated Financial Position and measured at fair value. On the date a derivative instrument is entered into, we designate a qualifying derivative instrument as a hedge of the variability of cash flows to be received or paid related to a forecasted transaction (cash flow hedge). We formally document all relationships between hedging instruments and hedged items, as well as our risk-management objective and strategy for undertaking various hedge transactions. This process includes linking all derivatives that are designated as cash flow hedges to specific firm commitments or forecasted transactions. We also formally assess both at the hedge's inception and on an ongoing basis, whether the derivatives that are used in hedging transactions are highly effective in offsetting changes in cash flows of the related hedged items. When it is determined that a derivative is not highly effective as a hedge or that it has ceased to be a highly effective hedge, we discontinue hedge accounting prospectively and record all future changes in fair value in the period of the instrument's earnings or losses.
For derivative instruments that have been designated as cash flow hedges, the changes in fair value are recorded in Accumulated other comprehensive loss. Amounts recorded in Accumulated other comprehensive loss are reclassified to earnings or losses in the period the underlying hedged transaction affects earnings or when the underlying hedged transaction is no longer reasonably possible of occurring.
For derivative instruments that have not been designated as cash flow hedges, changes in fair value are recorded in the period of the instrument's earnings or losses.
Refer to Revenue Recognition below for discussion of derivatives recorded as a result of pricing terms in our sales contracts.
Refer to NOTE 13 - DERIVATIVE INSTRUMENTS AND HEDGING ACTIVITIES for further information.
Property, Plant and Equipment
Our properties are stated at the lower of cost less accumulated depreciation or fair value. Depreciation of plant and equipment is computed principally by the straight-line method based on estimated useful lives, not to exceed the mine lives. Depreciation continues to be recognized when operations are idled temporarily. The U.S. Iron Ore operations use the double-declining balance method of depreciation for certain mining equipment. The Asia Pacific Iron Ore operation uses the production output method for certain mining equipment. Depreciation is provided over the following estimated useful lives:
Office and information technology
3 to 15 Years
Straight line/Double declining balance
3 to 20 Years
10 to 45 Years
Electric power facilities
10 to 45 years
20 to 45 years
Asset retirement obligation
Life of mine
Refer to NOTE 4 - PROPERTY, PLANT AND EQUIPMENT for further information.
Capitalized Stripping Costs
During the development phase, stripping costs are capitalized as a part of the depreciable cost of building, developing and constructing a mine. These capitalized costs are amortized over the productive life of the mine using the units of production method. The production phase does not commence until the removal of more than a de minimis amount of saleable mineral material occurs in conjunction with the removal of overburden or waste material for purposes of obtaining access to an ore body. The stripping costs incurred in the production phase of a mine are variable production costs included in the costs of the inventory produced (extracted) during the period that the stripping costs are incurred.
Stripping costs related to expansion of a mining asset of proven and probable reserves are variable production costs that are included in the costs of the inventory produced during the period that the stripping costs are incurred.
Other Intangible Assets and Liabilities
Other intangible assets are subject to periodic amortization over their estimated useful lives as follows:
Permits - Asia Pacific Iron Ore
Units of production
Life of mine
Permits - USIO
Life of mine
Long-Lived Tangible and Intangible Assets
We monitor conditions that may affect the carrying value of our long-lived tangible and intangible assets when events and circumstances indicate that the carrying value of the asset groups may not be recoverable. In order to determine if assets have been impaired, assets are grouped and tested at the lowest level for which identifiable, independent cash flows are available ("asset group"). An impairment loss exists when projected undiscounted cash flows are less than the carrying value of the asset group. The measurement of the impairment loss to be recognized is based on the difference between the fair value and the carrying value of the asset group. Fair value can be determined using a market approach, income approach or cost approach.
For the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2015, although certain factors indicated that the carrying value of certain asset groups may not be recoverable, an assessment for the potential impairment was performed and an impairment adjustment was not required. During 2016, there were no impairment indicators present; as a result, no impairment assessments were required.
Refer to NOTE 4 - PROPERTY, PLANT AND EQUIPMENT, NOTE 12 - GOODWILL AND OTHER INTANGIBLE ASSETS and NOTE 6 - FAIR VALUE OF FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS for further information.
Fair Value Measurements
ASC 820, Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures, establishes a three-level valuation hierarchy for classification of fair value measurements. The valuation hierarchy is based upon the transparency of inputs to the valuation of an asset or liability as of the measurement date. Inputs refer broadly to the assumptions that market participants would use in pricing an asset or liability. Inputs may be observable or unobservable. Observable inputs are inputs that reflect the assumptions market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability developed based on market data obtained from independent sources. Unobservable inputs are inputs that reflect our own views about the assumptions market participants would use in pricing the asset or liability developed based on the best information available in the circumstances. The three-tier hierarchy of inputs is summarized below:
Level 1 — Valuation is based upon quoted prices (unadjusted) for identical assets or liabilities in active markets.
Level 2 — Valuation is based upon quoted prices for similar assets and liabilities in active markets, or other inputs that are observable for the asset or liability, either directly or indirectly, for substantially the full term of the financial instrument.
Level 3 — Valuation is based upon other unobservable inputs that are significant to the fair value measurement.
The classification of assets and liabilities within the valuation hierarchy is based upon the lowest level of input that is significant to the fair value measurement in its entirety. Valuation methodologies used for assets and liabilities measured at fair value are as follows:
Where quoted prices are available in an active market, cash equivalents are classified within Level 1 of the valuation hierarchy. Cash equivalents classified in Level 1 include money market funds and treasury bonds. Valuation of these instruments is determined using a market approach and is based upon unadjusted quoted prices for identical assets in active markets. Cash equivalents classified in Level 2 include commercial paper and certificates of deposit. Valuation of these instruments is determined using financial models that use as their basis readily observable market parameters.
Derivative Financial Instruments
Derivative financial instruments valued using financial models that use as their basis readily observable market parameters are classified within Level 2 of the valuation hierarchy. Such derivative financial instruments include our commodity hedging instruments. Derivative financial instruments that are valued based upon models with significant unobservable market parameters and are normally traded less actively, are classified within Level 3 of the valuation hierarchy.
Refer to NOTE 6 - FAIR VALUE OF FINANCIAL INSTRUMENTS and NOTE 7 - PENSIONS AND OTHER POSTRETIREMENT BENEFITS for further information.
Pensions and Other Postretirement Benefits
We offer defined benefit pension plans, defined contribution pension plans and other postretirement benefit plans, primarily consisting of retiree healthcare benefits, to most employees in North America as part of a total compensation and benefits program. We do not have employee pension or post-retirement benefit obligations at our Asia Pacific Iron Ore operations.
We recognize the funded or unfunded status of our postretirement benefit obligations on our December 31, 2017 and 2016 Statements of Consolidated Financial Position based on the difference between the market value of plan assets and the actuarial present value of our retirement obligations on that date, on a plan-by-plan basis. If the plan assets exceed the retirement obligations, the amount of the surplus is recorded as an asset; if the retirement obligations exceed the plan assets, the amount of the underfunded obligations is recorded as a liability. Year-end balance sheet adjustments to postretirement assets and obligations are recorded as Accumulated other comprehensive loss in the Statements of Consolidated Financial Position.
The actuarial estimates of the PBO and APBO incorporate various assumptions including the discount rates, the rates of increases in compensation, healthcare cost trend rates, mortality, retirement timing and employee turnover. The discount rate is determined based on the prevailing year-end rates for high-grade corporate bonds with a duration matching the expected cash flow timing of the benefit payments from the various plans. The remaining assumptions are based on our estimates of future events by incorporating historical trends and future expectations. The amount of net periodic cost that is recorded in the Statements of Consolidated Operations consists of several components including service cost, interest cost, expected return on plan assets, and amortization of previously unrecognized amounts. Service cost represents the value of the benefits earned in the current year by the participants. Interest cost represents the cost associated with the passage of time. Certain items, such as plan amendments, gains and/or losses resulting from differences between actual and assumed results for demographic and economic factors affecting the obligations and assets of the plans, and changes in other assumptions are subject to deferred recognition for income and expense purposes. The expected return on plan assets is determined utilizing the weighted average of expected returns for plan asset investments in various asset categories based on historical performance, adjusted for current trends. See NOTE 7 - PENSIONS AND OTHER POSTRETIREMENT BENEFITS for further information.
Asset Retirement Obligations
Asset retirement obligations are recognized when incurred and recorded as liabilities at fair value. The fair value of the liability is determined as the discounted value of the expected future cash flows. The asset retirement obligation is accreted over time through periodic charges to earnings. In addition, the asset retirement cost is capitalized and amortized over the life of the related asset. Reclamation costs are adjusted periodically to reflect changes in the estimated present value resulting from the passage of time and revisions to the estimates of either the timing or amount of the reclamation costs. We review, on an annual basis, unless otherwise deemed necessary, the asset retirement obligation at each mine site in accordance with the provisions of ASC 410, Asset Retirement and Environmental Obligations. We perform an in-depth evaluation of the liability every three years in addition to our routine annual assessments. In 2017, we employed a third-party specialist to assist in the evaluation.
Future reclamation costs for inactive mines are accrued based on management’s best estimate at the end of each period of the costs expected to be incurred at a site. Such cost estimates include, where applicable, ongoing maintenance and monitoring costs. Changes in estimates at inactive mines are reflected in earnings in the period an estimate is revised. See NOTE 11 - ENVIRONMENTAL AND MINE CLOSURE OBLIGATIONS for further information.
Environmental Remediation Costs
We have a formal policy for environmental protection and restoration. Our mining and exploration activities are subject to various laws and regulations governing protection of the environment. We conduct our operations to protect the public health and environment and believe our operations are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations in all material respects. Our environmental liabilities, including obligations for known environmental remediation exposures at active and closed mining operations and other sites, have been recognized based on the estimated cost of investigation and remediation at each site. If the cost can only be estimated as a range of possible amounts with no point in the range being more likely, the minimum of the range is accrued. Future expenditures are not discounted unless the amount and timing of the cash disbursements reasonably can be estimated. It is possible that additional environmental obligations could be incurred, the extent of which cannot be assessed. Potential insurance recoveries have not been reflected in the determination of the liabilities. See NOTE 11 - ENVIRONMENTAL AND MINE CLOSURE OBLIGATIONS for further information.
We sell our products pursuant to comprehensive supply agreements negotiated and executed with our customers. Revenue is recognized from a sale when persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, the price is fixed or determinable, the product is delivered in accordance with shipping terms, title and risk of loss have transferred to the customer in accordance with the specified provisions of each supply agreement and collection of the sales price reasonably is assured. Our U.S. Iron Ore and Asia Pacific Iron Ore supply agreements provide that title and risk of loss transfer to the customer either upon loading of the vessel, shipment or, as is the case with some of our U.S. Iron Ore supply agreements, when payment is received. Under certain supply agreements, we ship the product to ports on the lower Great Lakes or to the customers’ facilities prior to the transfer of title. Our rationale for shipping iron ore products to certain customers and retaining title until payment is received for these products is to minimize credit risk exposure.
Sales are recorded at a sales price specified in the relevant supply agreements resulting in revenue and a receivable at the time of sale. The majority of our contracts have pricing mechanisms that require price estimation at the time of delivery with price finalization at a future period. Upon revenue recognition for provisionally priced sales, a derivative is created for the difference between the sales price used and expected future settlement price. The derivative is adjusted to fair value through Product revenues as a revenue adjustment each reporting period based upon current market data and forward-looking estimates determined by management until the final sales price is determined. The principal risks associated with recognition of sales on a provisional basis include iron ore price, index pellet premiums and index freight fluctuations between the date initially recorded and the date of final settlement. For revenue recognition, we estimate the future settlement rate; however, if significant changes in inputs occur between the provisional pricing date and the final settlement date, we might be required to either return a portion of the sales proceeds received or bill for the additional sales proceeds due based on the provisional sales price. Refer to NOTE 13 - DERIVATIVE INSTRUMENTS AND HEDGING ACTIVITIES for further information.
In addition, certain supply agreements with one customer include provisions for supplemental revenue or refunds based on the customer's average annual steel pricing or an average annual daily market price for hot-rolled coil steel the year the product is consumed in the customer’s blast furnaces. We account for this provision as a free standing derivative instrument at the time of sale and record this provision at fair value until the year the product is consumed and the amounts are settled as an adjustment to Product revenues. Refer to NOTE 13 - DERIVATIVE INSTRUMENTS AND HEDGING ACTIVITIES for further information.
Revenue from product sales and services also includes reimbursement for freight charges associated with domestic freight and venture partner cost reimbursements for the U.S. Iron Ore operations and freight associated with CFR based shipments paid on behalf of customers for the Asia Pacific Iron Ore operations. These are included in Freight and venture partners' cost reimbursements separate from Product revenues. Revenue is recognized for the expected reimbursement of services when the services are performed.
The terms of one of our U.S. Iron Ore pellet supply agreements required supplemental payments to be paid by the customer during the period 2009 through 2012, with the option to defer a portion of the 2009 monthly amount in exchange for interest payments until the deferred amount was repaid in 2013. Installment amounts received under this arrangement in excess of sales were classified as deferred revenue in the Statements of Consolidated Financial Position upon receipt of payment. Revenue is recognized over the life of the supply agreement, which extends until 2022, in equal annual installments. As of December 31, 2017 and 2016, installment amounts received in excess of sales totaled $64.2 million and $77.1 million, respectively. As of December 31, 2017, deferred revenue of $12.8 million was recorded in Other current liabilities and $51.4 million was recorded as long-term in Other liabilities in the Statements of Consolidated Financial Position, related to this agreement. As of December 31, 2016, deferred revenue of $12.8 million was recorded in Other current liabilities and $64.3 million was recorded as long-term in Other liabilities in the Statements of Consolidated Financial Position, related to this agreement.
In 2017 and 2016, due to the payment terms and the timing of cash receipts near year-end, cash receipts exceeded shipments for certain customers. Revenue recognition on these transactions totaling $9.6 million and $3.4 million was deferred on the Statements of Consolidated Financial Position for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively.
Cost of Goods Sold
Cost of goods sold and operating expenses represents all direct and indirect costs and expenses applicable to the sales from our mining operations. Operating expenses primarily represent the portion of the Tilden mining venture costs prior to our 100% ownership; that is, the costs attributable to the share of the mine’s production owned by the other joint venture partner in the Tilden mine until we acquired the remaining 15% noncontrolling interest during 2017. The mining venture functioned as a captive cost company, supplying product only to its owners effectively for the cost of production. Accordingly, the noncontrolling interests’ revenue amounts are stated at cost of production and are offset by an equal amount included in Cost of goods sold and operating expenses resulting in no sales margin reflected for the noncontrolling partner participant. As we were responsible for product fulfillment under the venture, we acted as a principal in the transaction and, accordingly, recorded revenue under these arrangements on a gross basis.
In some circumstances, as requested by the customer, we will coordinate and ship our product via vessel directly to the port nearest to the customer's blast furnace. In this type of contract, the customer will pay one amount inclusive of both product and freight. We recognize revenue for both product revenue and the amount reimbursed for the vessel freight to the final port. We separate these revenue types in the Statements of Consolidated Operations. Accordingly, the revenue we record for freight is offset by an equal amount included in Cost of goods sold and operating expenses for costs we incur for that freight, resulting in no impact on sales margin.
The following table is a summary of reimbursements in our U.S. Iron Ore operations for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015:
Year Ended December 31,
Venture partners’ cost
We sell a portion of our Asia Pacific Iron Ore product on a CFR basis. As a result, $19.6 million, $20.7 million and $23.6 million of freight was included in Cost of goods sold and operating expenses for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
Where we have joint ownership of a mine, such as Hibbing and up to the point at which we purchased the remaining interest in Tilden, our contracts entitle us to receive management fees or royalties, which we earn as the pellets are produced.
Repairs and Maintenance
Repairs, maintenance and replacement of components are expensed as incurred. The cost of major equipment overhauls is capitalized and depreciated over the estimated useful life, which is the period until the next scheduled overhaul, generally five years. All other planned and unplanned repairs and maintenance costs are expensed when incurred.
The fair value of each performance share grant is estimated on the date of grant using a Monte Carlo simulation to forecast relative TSR performance. Consistent with the guidelines of ASC 718, Stock Compensation, a correlation matrix of historic and projected stock prices was developed for both the Company and its predetermined peer group of mining and metals companies. The fair value assumes that performance goals will be achieved.
The expected term of the grant represents the time from the grant date to the end of the service period for each of the three plan-year agreements. We estimated the volatility of our common shares and that of the peer group of mining and metals companies using daily price intervals for all companies. The risk-free interest rate is the rate at the grant date on zero-coupon government bonds, with a term commensurate with the remaining life of the performance plans.
The fair value of stock options is estimated on the date of grant using a Black-Scholes model using the grant date price of our common shares and option exercise price, and assumptions regarding the option’s expected term, the volatility of our common shares, the risk-free interest rate, and the dividend yield over the option’s expected term.
Upon vesting of share-based compensation awards, we issue shares from treasury shares before issuing new shares. Forfeitures are recognized when they occur.
Refer to NOTE 8 - STOCK COMPENSATION PLANS for additional information.
Income taxes are based on income for financial reporting purposes, calculated using tax rates by jurisdiction, and reflect a current tax liability or asset for the estimated taxes payable or recoverable on the current year tax return and expected annual changes in deferred taxes. Any interest or penalties on income tax are recognized as a component of income tax expense.
We account for income taxes under the asset and liability method, which requires the recognition of deferred tax assets and liabilities for the expected future tax consequences of events that have been included in the financial statements. Under this method, deferred tax assets and liabilities are determined based on the differences between the financial statement and tax basis of assets and liabilities using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which the differences are expected to reverse. The effect of a change in tax rates on deferred tax assets and liabilities is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.
We record net deferred tax assets to the extent we believe these assets will more likely than not be realized. In making such determination, we consider all available positive and negative evidence, including scheduled reversals of deferred tax liabilities, projected future taxable income, tax planning strategies and recent financial results of operations.
Accounting for uncertainty in income taxes recognized in the financial statements requires that a tax benefit from an uncertain tax position be recognized when it is more likely than not that the position will be sustained upon examination, including resolutions of any related appeals or litigation processes, based on technical merits.
See NOTE 9 - INCOME TAXES for further information.
North American Coal Operations
As we executed our strategy to focus on strengthening our U.S. Iron Ore operations, management determined as of March 31, 2015 that our North American Coal operating segment met the criteria to be classified as held for sale under ASC 205, Presentation of Financial Statements and continued to meet the criteria throughout 2015. In December 2015, we completed the sale of our remaining two metallurgical coal operations, Oak Grove and Pinnacle mines, which marked our exit from the coal business. Our plan to sell the Oak Grove and Pinnacle mine assets represented a strategic shift in our business. For this reason, our previously reported North American Coal operating segment results for all periods, prior to the March 31, 2015 held for sale determination, as well as costs to exit are classified as discontinued operations. Refer to NOTE 14 - DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS for further discussion of our discontinued operations.
As more fully described in NOTE 14 - DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS, in January 2015, we announced that the Bloom Lake Group commenced restructuring proceedings in Montreal, Quebec under the CCAA. At that time, we had suspended Bloom Lake operations and for several months had been exploring options to sell certain of our Canadian assets, among other initiatives. Effective January 27, 2015, following the commencement of CCAA proceedings for the Bloom Lake Group, we deconsolidated the Bloom Lake Group and certain other wholly-owned subsidiaries comprising substantially all of our Canadian operations. Additionally, on May 20, 2015, the Wabush Group commenced restructuring proceedings in Montreal, Quebec under the CCAA which resulted in the deconsolidation of the remaining Wabush Group entities that were not previously deconsolidated. The Wabush Group was no longer generating revenues and was not able to meet its obligations as they came due. As a result of this action, the CCAA protection granted to the Bloom Lake Group was extended to include the Wabush Group to facilitate the reorganization of each of their businesses and operations. Our Canadian exit represents a strategic shift in our business. For this reason, our previously reported Eastern Canadian Iron Ore and Ferroalloys operating segment results for all periods prior to the respective deconsolidations as well as costs to exit are classified as discontinued operations.
Our financial statements are prepared with the U.S. dollar as the reporting currency. The functional currency of our Australian subsidiaries is the Australian dollar. The functional currency of all other international subsidiaries is the U.S. dollar. The financial statements of international subsidiaries are translated into U.S. dollars using the exchange rate at each balance sheet date for assets and liabilities and a weighted average exchange rate for each period for revenues, expenses, gains and losses. Where the local currency is the functional currency, translation adjustments are recorded as Accumulated other comprehensive loss. Income taxes generally are not provided for foreign currency translation adjustments. To the extent that monetary assets and liabilities, inclusive of short-term and certain long-term intercompany loans, are recorded in a currency other than the functional currency, these amounts are remeasured each reporting period, with the resulting gain or loss being recorded in the Statements of Consolidated Operations. Transaction gains and losses resulting from remeasurement of intercompany loans are included in Miscellaneous - net in our Statements of Consolidated Operations.
The following represents the net gain (loss) related to impact of transaction gains and losses resulting from remeasurement for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015:
Remeasurement of intercompany loans
Remeasurement of cash and cash equivalents
Net gain (loss) related to impact of transaction gains and losses resulting from remeasurement
Earnings Per Share
We present both basic and diluted earnings per share amounts for continuing operations and discontinued operations. Basic earnings per share amounts are calculated by dividing Net income (loss) attributable to Cliffs shareholders less any paid or declared but unpaid dividends on our depositary shares by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the period presented. Diluted earnings per share amounts are calculated by dividing Net income (loss) attributable to Cliffs shareholders by the weighted average number of common shares, common share equivalents under stock plans using the treasury stock method and the number of common shares that would be issued under an assumed conversion of our outstanding depositary shares, each representing a 1/40th interest in a share of our Series A Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock, Class A, under the if-converted method. We currently do not have any outstanding depositary shares. Historically, when we have had outstanding depositary shares, they were convertible into common shares based on the volume weighted average of closing prices of our common shares over the 20 consecutive trading day period ending on the third day immediately preceding the end of that reporting period.
Holders of the 1.50% 2025 Convertible Senior Notes may convert their notes during any quarter between April 1, 2018 and July 15, 2024 where our share price exceeds 130% of the conversion price for 20 trading days during a 30 trading day period. Holders of the 1.50% 2025 Convertible Senior Notes may also convert their notes during any quarter between April 1, 2018 and July 15, 2024 during the five business day period after any five consecutive trading day period in which the trading price per $1,000 principal amount of notes, for each trading day of the measurement period was less than 98% of the product of the last reported sale price of our common shares and the conversion price on each such trading day. If our common shares rise in value above the conversion price, diluted EPS will be calculated based on the treasury-stock method with the number of dilutive shares being calculated based on the difference in the average share price and the conversion price. Common share equivalents are excluded from EPS computations in the periods in which they have an anti-dilutive effect. See NOTE 19 - EARNINGS PER SHARE for further information.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
Issued and Adopted
In August 2017, the FASB issued ASU No. 2017-12, Derivatives and Hedging (Topic 815): Targeted Improvements to Accounting for Hedging Activities. The new standard simplifies hedge accounting through changes to both designation and measurement requirements. For hedges that qualify as highly effective, the new standard eliminates the requirement to separately measure and record hedge ineffectiveness resulting in better alignment between the presentation of the effects of the hedging instrument and the hedged item in the financial statements. We elected to early adopt ASU No. 2017-12 for the year ended December 31, 2017. The adoption of this standard required retrospective adoption, but did not impact prior-period financial results.
Issued and Not Effective
In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU No. 2014-09, Revenues from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606). The new revenue guidance broadly replaces the revenue guidance provided throughout the Codification. The core principle of the revenue guidance is that an entity should recognize revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. Reporting entities must prepare new disclosures providing qualitative and quantitative information on the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from contracts with customers. New disclosures also include qualitative and quantitative information on significant judgments, changes in judgments, and contract acquisition assets. We will adopt the standard on its effective date of January 1, 2018 using the modified retrospective transition method. As of December 31, 2017, we have completed the evaluation of the new standard and the related review and assessment of all existing contracts with our customers. Under Topic 606, revenue will generally be recognized upon delivery for our U.S. Iron Ore customers, which in most cases is earlier than under the previous guidance. As an example, for certain iron ore shipments where revenue is deferred currently as title does not transfer until payment is received, under Topic 606, we will recognize revenue when control transfers, generally upon delivery. Due to the closure of the Soo Locks and the Welland Canal during the winter months, our revenues will be lower than historical levels during the first quarter and higher than historical levels during the remaining three quarters in future years. However, the total amount of revenue recognized during the year should remain substantially the same as under current GAAP. We do not anticipate any significant changes in the timing and pattern of revenue recognition for our Asia Pacific Iron Ore contracts. In addition to the timing impacts, we anticipate the primary impact on a full-year basis of the adoption on our consolidated financial statements will be the additional required disclosures around revenue recognition in the notes to the consolidated financial statements. As a result of the adoption of the new standard on January 1, 2018, we expect to record a cumulative transition adjustment of between $30 million and $35 million to Retained deficit in our Statements of Consolidated Financial Position related to shipments made in 2017 that would have been recognized as revenue in 2018 under the previous accounting guidance.
In March 2017, the FASB issued ASU No. 2017-07, Compensation - Retirement Benefits (Topic 715): Improving the Presentation of Net Periodic Pension Cost and Net Periodic Postretirement Benefit Cost. The new standard requires the service cost component of pension and other postretirement benefit expenses to be included in the same line item as other compensation costs arising from services rendered by employees, with the other components of net benefit cost to be presented in the income statement separately from the service cost component and outside a subtotal of income from operations. The guidance is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2017. The adoption of ASU No. 2017-07 in the first quarter of 2018 will impact the Statements of Consolidated Operations by changing our classification of the components of pension and OPEB costs; however, it will not impact our Net Income (Loss). The following represents the estimated impact from the adoption of ASU No. 2017-07 for the year ended December 31, 2017:
($ in Millions)
December 31, 2017
Financial Statement Line Impacted
Adoption of ASU No. 2017-07
Cost of goods sold and operating expenses
Selling, general and administrative expenses
Miscellaneous - net
Other non-operating income
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842). The new standard requires lessees to recognize a right-of-use asset and a lease liability on the balance sheet for all leases except for short-term leases. For lessees, leases will continue to be classified as either operating or finance leases in the income statement. We plan to adopt the standard on its effective date of January 1, 2019. The new standard must be adopted using a modified retrospective approach and requires application of the new guidance at the beginning of the earliest comparative period presented. We are currently finalizing our implementation plan, compiling an inventory of existing leases and evaluating the effect the updated standard will have on our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures.