Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Use of Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States 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. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
Fair Value Measurements
We use fair value measurements to measure, among other items, purchased assets, investments, leases and derivative contracts. We also use them to assess impairment of properties, equipment, intangible assets and goodwill. An asset’s fair value is defined as the price at which an asset could be exchanged in a current transaction between knowledgeable, willing parties. A liability’s fair value is defined as the amount that would be paid to transfer the liability to a new obligor, not the amount that would be paid to settle the liability with the creditor. Where available, fair value is based on observable market prices or parameters, or is derived from such prices or parameters. Where observable prices or inputs are not available, unobservable prices or inputs are used to estimate the current fair value, often using an internal valuation model. These valuation techniques involve some level of management estimation and judgment, the degree of which is dependent on the item being valued.
ASC 820 “Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures” prioritizes the inputs used in measuring fair value into the following hierarchy:
Quoted prices (unadjusted) in active markets for identical assets or liabilities;
Inputs other than quoted prices included within Level 1 that are either directly or indirectly observable;
Unobservable inputs in which little or no market activity exists, therefore requiring an entity to develop its own assumptions about the assumptions that market participants would use in pricing.
Cash, accounts receivable, certain other current assets, marketable securities, accounts payable, accrued expenses, and certain other current liabilities are reflected in the Consolidated Balance Sheets at carrying amounts, which approximate the fair value due to their short term nature.
We operate our business in two primary operating segments, Fuel Distribution and Marketing and All Other, both of which are included as reportable segments. Our Fuel Distribution and Marketing segment sells motor fuel to our All Other segment and external customers. Our All Other segment includes the Partnership’s credit card services, franchise royalties, and its retail operations in Hawaii and New Jersey.
Acquisitions of assets or entities that include inputs and processes and have the ability to create outputs are accounted for as business combinations. A purchase price is recorded for tangible and intangible assets acquired and liabilities assumed based on their fair value. The excess of fair value of consideration conveyed over fair value of net assets acquired is recorded as goodwill. The Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Income (Loss) for the periods presented include the results of operations for each acquisition from their respective dates of acquisition.
Acquisitions of entities under common control are accounted for similar to a pooling of interests, in which the acquired assets and assumed liabilities are recognized at their historic carrying values. The results of operations of affiliated businesses acquired are reflected in the Partnership’s consolidated results of operations beginning on the date of common control.
Cash and Cash Equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents include cash on hand, demand deposits, and short-term investments with original maturities of three months or less.
Sunoco LLC and Sunoco Retail have treasury services agreements with Sunoco (R&M), LLC, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of ETO for certain cash management activities. The net balance of Sunoco LLC and Sunoco Retail activity is reflected in either “Advances to affiliates” or “Advances from affiliates” on the Consolidated Balance Sheets.
The majority of trade receivables are from wholesale fuel customers or from credit card companies related to retail credit card transactions. Wholesale customer credit is extended based on an evaluation of the customer’s financial condition. Receivables are recorded at face value, without interest or discount. The Partnership provides an allowance for doubtful accounts based on historical experience and on a specific identification basis. Credit losses are recorded against the allowance when accounts are deemed uncollectible.
Receivables from affiliates arise from fuel sales and other miscellaneous transactions with non-consolidated affiliates. These receivables are recorded at face value, without interest or discount.
Fuel inventories are stated at the lower of cost or market using the last-in-first-out (“LIFO”) method. Under this methodology, the cost of fuel sold consists of actual acquisition costs, which includes transportation and storage costs. Such costs are adjusted to reflect increases or decreases in inventory quantities which are valued based on changes in LIFO inventory layers.
Merchandise inventories are stated at the lower of average cost, as determined by the retail inventory method, or market. We record an allowance for shortages and obsolescence relating to merchandise inventory based on historical trends and any known changes. Shipping and handling costs are included in the cost of merchandise inventories.
Advertising costs are expensed as incurred. Advertising costs were $24 million for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, and 2017.
Property and Equipment
Property and equipment are recorded at cost. Depreciation is computed on a straight-line basis over the useful lives of assets, estimated to be forty years for buildings, three to fifteen years for equipment and thirty years for storage tanks. Assets under finance leases are depreciated over the life of the corresponding lease.
Amortization of leasehold improvements is based upon the shorter of the remaining terms of the leases including renewal periods that are reasonably assured, or the estimated useful lives, which approximate twenty years. Expenditures for major renewals and betterments that extend the useful lives of property and equipment are capitalized. Maintenance and repairs are charged to operations as incurred. Gains or losses on the disposition of property and equipment are recorded in the period incurred.
Long-Lived Assets and Assets Held for Sale
Long-lived assets are tested for possible impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying amount of the asset may not be recoverable. If such indicators exist, the estimated undiscounted future cash flows related to the asset are compared to the carrying value of the asset. If the carrying value is greater than the estimated undiscounted future cash flow amount, an impairment charge is recorded within loss on disposal of assets and impairment charge in the Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Income (Loss) for amounts necessary to reduce the corresponding carrying value of the asset to fair value. The impairment loss calculations require management to apply judgment in estimating future cash flows.
Properties that have been closed and other excess real property are recorded as assets held and used, and are written down to the lower of cost or estimated net realizable value at the time we close such stores or determine that these properties are in excess and intend to offer them for sale. We estimate the net realizable value based on our experience in utilizing or disposing of similar assets and on estimates provided by our own and third-party real estate experts. Although we have not experienced significant changes in our estimate of net realizable value, changes in real estate markets could significantly impact the net values realized from the sale of assets. When we have determined that an asset is more likely than not to be sold in the next twelve months, that asset is classified as assets held for sale and included in other current assets. We had no assets classified as assets held for sale as of December 31, 2019 or 2018.
Goodwill and Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets
Goodwill represents the excess of consideration paid over fair value of net assets acquired. Goodwill and intangible assets acquired in a purchase business combination are recorded at fair value as of the date acquired. Acquired intangible assets determined to have an indefinite useful life are not amortized, but are instead tested for impairment at least annually, or more frequently if events and circumstances indicate that the asset might be impaired. The annual impairment test of goodwill and indefinite lived intangible assets is performed as of the first day of the fourth quarter of each fiscal year.
The Partnership uses qualitative factors to determine whether it is more likely than not (likelihood of more than 50%) that the fair value of a reporting unit exceeds its carrying amount, including goodwill. Some of the qualitative factors considered in applying this test include consideration of macroeconomic conditions, industry and market conditions, cost factors affecting the business, overall financial performance of the business, and performance of the unit price of the Partnership.
If qualitative factors are not deemed sufficient to conclude that the fair value of the reporting unit more likely than not exceeds its carrying value, then a one-step approach is applied in making an evaluation. The evaluation utilizes multiple valuation methodologies, including a market approach (market price multiples of comparable companies) and an income approach (discounted cash flow analysis). The computations require management to make significant estimates and assumptions, including, among other things, selection of comparable publicly traded companies, the discount rate applied to future earnings reflecting a weighted average cost of capital, and earnings growth assumptions. A discounted cash flow analysis requires management to make various assumptions about future sales, operating margins, capital expenditures, working capital, and growth rates. If the evaluation results in the fair value of the reporting unit being lower than the carrying value, an impairment charge is recorded.
Indefinite-lived intangible assets are composed of certain tradenames, and liquor licenses which are not amortized but are evaluated for impairment annually or more frequently if events or changes occur that suggest an impairment in carrying value, such as a significant adverse change in the business climate. Indefinite-lived intangible assets are evaluated for impairment by comparing each asset’s fair value to its book value. Management first determines qualitatively whether it is more likely than not that an indefinite‑lived asset is impaired. If management concludes that it is more likely than not that an indefinite-lived asset is impaired, then its fair value is determined by using the discounted cash flow model based on future revenues estimated to be derived in the use of the asset.
Other Intangible Assets
Other finite-lived intangible assets consist of supply agreements, customer relations, non-competes, and loan origination costs. Separable intangible assets that are not determined to have an indefinite life are amortized over their useful lives and assessed for impairment only if and when circumstances warrant. Determination of an intangible asset’s fair value and estimated useful life are based on an analysis of pertinent factors including (1) the use of widely-accepted valuation approaches, such as the income approach or the cost approach, (2) the expected use of the asset by the Partnership, (3) the expected useful life of related assets, (4) any legal, regulatory or contractual provisions, including renewal or extension period that would cause substantial costs or modifications to existing agreements, and (5) the effects of obsolescence, demand, competition, and other economic factors. Should any of the underlying assumptions indicate that the value of the intangible assets might be impaired, we may be required to reduce the carrying value and remaining useful life of the asset. If the underlying assumptions governing the amortization of an intangible asset were later determined to have significantly changed, we may be required to adjust its amortization period to reflect a new estimate of its useful life. Any write‑down of the value or unfavorable change in the useful life of an intangible asset would increase expense at that time.
Customer relations and supply agreements are amortized on a straight-line basis over the remaining terms of the agreements, which generally range from five to twenty years. Non-competition agreements are amortized over the terms of the respective agreements, and loan origination costs are amortized over the life of the underlying debt as an increase to interest expense.
Asset Retirement Obligations
The estimated future cost to remove an underground storage tank is recognized over the estimated useful life of the storage tank. We record a discounted liability for the future fair value of an asset retirement obligation along with a corresponding increase to the carrying value of the related long-lived asset at the time an underground storage tank is installed. We then depreciate the amount added to property and equipment and recognize accretion expense in connection with the discounted liability over the remaining life of the tank. We base our estimates of the anticipated future costs for tank removal on our prior experience with removals. We review assumptions for computing the estimated liability for tank removal on an annual basis. Any change in estimated cash flows are reflected as an adjustment to both the liability and the associated asset.
Long-lived assets related to Asset Retirement Obligations aggregated $20 million and $11 million, and were reflected as property and equipment, net on our Consolidated Balance Sheets as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Environmental expenditures related to existing conditions, resulting from past or current operations, and from which no current or future benefit is discernible, are expensed. Expenditures that extend the life of the related property or prevent future environmental contamination are capitalized. We determine and establish a liability on a site-by-site basis when it is probable and can be reasonably estimated. A related receivable is recorded for estimable and probable reimbursements.
Revenues from motor fuel is recognized either at the time fuel is delivered to the customer or at the time of sale. Shipment and delivery of motor fuel generally occurs on the same day. The Partnership charges wholesale customers for third-party transportation costs, which are recorded net in cost of sales. Through PropCo, our wholly-owned corporate subsidiary, we sell motor fuel to customers on a commission agent basis, in which we retain title to inventory, control access to and sale of fuel inventory, and recognize revenue at the time the fuel is sold to the end customer. In our Fuel Distribution and Marketing segment, we derive additional income from lease income, propane and lubricating oils, and other ancillary product and service offerings. In our All Other segment, we derive other income from merchandise, lottery ticket sales, money orders, prepaid phone cards and wireless services, ATM transactions, car washes, and other ancillary product and service offerings. We record revenue from other retail transactions on a net commission basis when a product is sold and/or services are rendered.
Lease income from operating leases is recognized on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease.
Cost of Sales
We include in cost of sales all costs incurred to acquire fuel and merchandise, including the costs of purchasing, storing, and transporting inventory prior to delivery to our customers. Items are removed from inventory and are included in cost of sales based on the retail inventory method for merchandise and the LIFO method for motor fuel. Cost of sales does not include depreciation of property and equipment as amounts attributed to cost of sales would not be significant. Depreciation is classified within operating expenses in the Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Income (Loss).
Motor Fuel and Sales Taxes
Certain motor fuel and sales taxes are collected from customers and remitted to governmental agencies either directly by the Partnership or through suppliers. The Partnership’s accounting policy for wholesale direct sales to dealers, distributors and commercial customers is to exclude the collected motor fuel tax from sales and cost of sales.
For retail locations where the Partnership holds inventory, including commission agent locations, motor fuel sales and motor fuel cost of sales include motor fuel taxes. Such amounts were $386 million, $370 million and $234 million, for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. Merchandise sales and cost of merchandise sales are reported net of sales tax in the Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Income (Loss).
Deferred Branding Incentives
We receive payments for branding incentives related to fuel supply contracts. Unearned branding incentives are deferred and amortized on a straight-line basis over the term of the agreement as a credit to cost of sales.
At the inception of each lease arrangement, we determine if the arrangement is a lease or contains an embedded lease and review the facts and circumstances of the arrangement to classify lease assets as operating or finance leases under Topic 842. The Partnership has elected not to record any leases with terms of 12 months or less on the balance sheet.
Balances related to operating leases are included in operating lease ROU assets, accrued and other current liabilities, operating lease current liabilities and non-current operating lease liabilities in our consolidated balance sheets. Finance leases represent a small portion of the active lease agreements and are included in finance lease ROU assets, current maturities of long-term debt and long-term debt, less current maturities in our consolidated balance sheets. The ROU assets represent the Partnership’s right to use an underlying asset for the lease term and lease liabilities represent the obligation of the Partnership to make minimum lease payments arising from the lease for the duration of the lease term.
The Partnership leases a portion of its properties under non-cancelable operating leases, whose initial terms are typically five to fifteen years, with options permitting renewal for additional periods. Most leases include one or more options to renew, with renewal terms that can extend the lease term from one to 20 years or greater. The exercise of lease renewal options is typically at the sole discretion of the Partnership and lease extensions are evaluated on a lease-by-lease basis. Leases containing early termination clauses typically require the agreement of both parties to the lease. At the inception of a lease, all renewal options reasonably certain to be exercised are considered when determining the lease term. The depreciable life of lease assets and leasehold improvements are limited by the expected lease term.
To determine the present value of future minimum lease payments, we use the implicit rate when readily determinable. Presently, because many of our leases do not provide an implicit rate, the Partnership applies its incremental borrowing rate based on the information available at the lease commencement date to determine the present value of minimum lease payments. The operating and finance lease ROU assets include any lease payments made and exclude lease incentives.
Minimum rent is expensed on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease, including renewal periods that are reasonably assured at the inception of the lease. The Partnership is typically responsible for payment of real estate taxes, maintenance expenses, and insurance. The Partnership also leases certain vehicles, and such leases are typically less than five years.
For short-term leases (leases that have term of twelve months or less upon commencement), lease payments are recognized on a straight-line basis and no ROU assets are recorded.
Earnings Per Unit
In addition to limited partner units, we have identified incentive distribution rights (“IDRs”) as participating securities and compute income per unit using the two-class method under which any excess of distributions declared over net income shall be allocated to the partners based on their respective sharing of income specified in the First Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership, as amended (the “Partnership Agreement”). Net income per unit applicable to limited partners is computed by dividing limited partners’ interest in net income, after deducting any incentive distributions, distributions on Series A Preferred Units and nonvested phantom unit awards, by the weighted-average number of outstanding common units.
Under the LP 2012 Long-Term Incentive Plan (the “2012 LTIP”) and the Sunoco LP 2018 Long-Term Incentive Plan (the “2018 LTIP”), various types of awards may be granted to employees, consultants, and directors of our General Partner who provide services for us. Compensation expense related to outstanding awards is recognized over the vesting period based on the grant-date fair value. The grant-date fair value is determined based on the market price of our common units on the grant date. We amortize the grant-date fair value of these awards over their vesting period using the straight-line method. Expenses related to unit-based compensation are included in general and administrative expenses.
The Partnership is a publicly traded limited partnership and is not taxable for federal and most state income tax purposes. As a result, our earnings or losses, to the extent not included in a taxable subsidiary, for federal and most state purposes are included in the tax returns of the individual partners. Net earnings for financial statement purposes may differ significantly from taxable income reportable to Unitholders as a result of differences between the tax basis and financial basis of assets and liabilities, differences between the tax accounting and financial accounting treatment of certain items, and due to allocation requirements related to taxable income under our Partnership Agreement.
As a publicly traded limited partnership, we are subject to a statutory requirement that our “qualifying income” (as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, related Treasury Regulations, and IRS pronouncements) exceed 90% of our total gross income, determined on a calendar year basis. If our qualifying income were not to meet this statutory requirement, the Partnership would be taxed as a corporation for federal and state income tax purposes. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, and 2017, our qualifying income met the statutory requirement.
The Partnership conducts certain activities through corporate subsidiaries which are subject to federal, state and local income taxes. These corporate subsidiaries include Sunoco Property Company LLC (“PropCo”) and Aloha. The Partnership and its corporate subsidiaries account for income taxes under the asset and liability method.
Under this method, deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the estimated future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax basis. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates in effect for the year in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rate is recognized in earnings in the period that includes the enactment date. Valuation allowances are established when necessary to reduce deferred tax assets to the amounts more likely than not to be realized.
The determination of the provision for income taxes requires significant judgment, use of estimates, and the interpretation and application of complex tax laws. Significant judgment is required in assessing the timing and amounts of deductible and taxable items and the probability of sustaining uncertain tax positions. The benefits of uncertain tax positions are recorded in our financial statements only after determining a more-likely-than-not probability that the uncertain tax positions will withstand challenge, if any, from taxing authorities. When facts and circumstances change, we reassess these probabilities and record any changes through the provision for income taxes.
In November 2015, new federal partnership audit procedures were signed into law which are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017. Under the new procedures, a partnership would be responsible for paying the imputed underpayment of tax resulting from audit adjustments in the adjustment year even though partnerships are “pass through entities.” However, as an alternative to paying the imputed underpayment of tax at the partnership level, a partnership may elect to provide audit adjustment information to the reviewed year partners, whom in turn would be responsible for paying the imputed underpayment of tax in the adjustment year. The Partnership is currently evaluating the impact, if any, this legislation has on our income taxes policies.
Change in Accounting Principles
FASB ASU No. 2016-02. In February 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued ASU No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842), which amends the FASB Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) and creates Topic 842, Leases. On January 1, 2019, we adopted ASC Topic 842, which is effective for interim and annual reporting periods beginning on or after December 15, 2018. This Topic requires balance sheet recognition of lease assets and lease liabilities for leases classified as operating leases under previous GAAP. Under the standard, disclosures are required to meet the objective of enabling users of financial statements to assess the amount, timing, and uncertainty of cash flows arising from leases.
The Partnership elected the modified retrospective approach to adopt Topic 842. This approach involved recognition of an opening cumulative catch-up adjustment to the balance sheet in the period of adoption, January 1, 2019. We have completed a detailed review of contracts representative of our business and assessed the terms under the new standard. Adoption of the standard had a material impact on our consolidated balance sheet, but did not have a material impact on our consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive income or consolidated cash flows. The most significant impact was the recognition of right-of-use (“ROU”) assets and lease liabilities for operating leases, while our accounting for finance leases remained substantially unchanged.
As a result of the evaluation performed, we have recorded adjustments resulting in a net increase to assets and liabilities of approximately $547 million as of January 1, 2019. In addition to the evaluation performed, we have made appropriate design and implementation updates to our business processes, systems, and internal controls to support the on-going reporting requirements under the new standard.
Topic 842 provides for certain practical expedients that companies can elect to apply for purposes of adoption and implementation of the new standard. The practical expedients utilized by the Partnership are as follows: 1) no reassessment of whether existing contracts contain a lease, 2) no reassessment of the classification of existing leases, 3) no reassessment of initial direct costs for existing leases, 4) exclusion of leases with terms of 12 months or less from evaluation, 5) use of the portfolio approach to determine discount rates, 6) election to not separate non-lease components from lease components in existing lease agreements, and 7) election to not apply the use of hindsight to the active lease population.
The cumulative effect of the changes made to our consolidated January 1, 2019 balance sheet for the adoption of ASU No. 2016-02 was as follows:
December 31, 2018
Adjustments Due to
January 1, 2019
Property and equipment, net
Lease right-of-use assets
Accrued expenses and other current liabilities
Current maturities of long term debt
Operating lease current liabilities
Long term debt, net
Operating lease non-current liabilities
Other non-current liabilities