Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Accounting Policies (Notes)

Accounting Policies (Notes)
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2020
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Significant Accounting Policies [Text Block]
Basis of Presentation and Principles of Consolidation

Forward Air Corporation (“Forward Air” or the “Company”) is a leading asset-light freight and logistics company. The Company has two reportable segments: Expedited Freight and Intermodal. The Company conducts business in the United States (“U.S.”) and Canada.

The Expedited Freight segment operates a comprehensive national network providing expedited regional, inter-regional and national LTL services. Expedited Freight offers customers local pick-up and delivery and other services including final mile, truckload, shipment consolidation and deconsolidation, warehousing, customs brokerage and other handling.

The Intermodal segment provides first- and last-mile high value intermodal container drayage services both to and from seaports and railheads. Intermodal also offers dedicated contract and Container Freight Station (“CFS”) warehouse and handling services.

The Company’s consolidated financial statements include Forward Air Corporation and its wholly-owned subsidiaries. Intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation.

On April 23, 2020, the Board of Director’s (the “Board”) of the Company approved a strategy to divest of the Pool Distribution (“Pool”) business within the next year. Prior to the decision to divest of Pool, the Company had three reportable segments: Expedited Freight, Intermodal and Pool. As a result of the strategy to divest of Pool, the results of operations for Pool are presented as a discontinued operation on the Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income, and assets and liabilities are reflected as “Assets and liabilities held for sale” on the Consolidated Balance Sheets for all periods presented. Amounts for all periods discussed below reflect the results of operations, financial condition and cash flows from the Company’s continuing operations, unless otherwise noted. Refer to Note 2, Discontinued Operation and Held for Sale, for further discussion.

Use of Estimates

The preparation of the consolidated financial statements in conformity with U.S. principles generally accepted accounting principles (“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 expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.

Cash and Cash Equivalents

Cash as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 of $25,246 and $64,749, respectively, consisted of cash on hand and bank deposits. The Company considers all investments with an original maturity of three months or less to be cash and cash equivalents. Cash equivalents as of December 31, 2020 of $15,008 consisted of money market deposits.

Allowance for Doubtful Accounts and Revenue Adjustments
The Company has a broad range of customers, including freight forwarders, third-party logistics (“3PL”) companies, passenger and cargo airlines, steamship lines, and retailers, located across a diverse geography. In circumstances in which the Company is aware of a specific customer’s inability to meet its financial obligations to the Company (for example, bankruptcy filings, accounts turned over for collection, or litigation), the Company records a specific reserve for these bad debts against amounts due, in order to reduce the net recognized receivable to the amount the Company reasonably believes will be collected. For all other customers, the Company recognizes a general reserve based on a percentage of revenue to ensure accounts receivables are properly recorded at the net amount expected to be collected. Management evaluates the collectability of its accounts receivables at least quarterly and sets the reserve based on historical and current collection history and reasonable and supportable forecasts about any expected changes to our collection experience in the future due to changing economic conditions. If circumstances change (i.e., the Company experiences higher than expected defaults or an unexpected material adverse change in a customer’s ability to meet its financial obligations to the Company), the estimates of the recoverability of
amounts due to the Company could be changed by a material amount. Accounts are written off after all means of collection, including legal action, have been exhausted.
The Company records an allowance for revenue adjustments resulting from future billing rate changes. The adjustments arise: (a) when small rate changes (“spot quotes”) are granted to customers that differ from the standard rates in the billing system; (b) when freight requires dimensionalization or is reweighed which results in a different rate; (3) when billing errors occur; and (4) when data entry errors occur. The Company monitors the manual revenue adjustments closely through the employment of various controls that are in place to ensure that revenue recognition is not compromised. During 2020, average revenue adjustments per month were approximately $396 on average revenue per month of approximately $105,798 (0.4% of monthly revenue). The Company estimates an allowance for revenue adjustments based on historical experience, trends and current information. More specifically, the Company considers the average monthly revenue adjustments as well as the average lag for identifying and quantifying the revenue adjustments. The average amount of revenue adjustments per month can vary in relation to the level of revenue or based on other factors (such as personnel issues that could result in excessive manual errors or in excessive spot quotes being granted). Both the average monthly revenue adjustments and the average lag assumptions are continually evaluated for appropriateness.


Inventories are valued at the lower of cost or net realizable value, using first-in, first-out method. Net realizable value is the estimated selling price in the ordinary course of business. Replacement parts are expensed when placed in service, while tires are capitalized and amortized over their estimated useful life. Expenses related to the utilization of inventories are recorded in Other operating expenses in the Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income.

Property and Equipment

Property and equipment are recorded at cost, less accumulated depreciation and amortization. Depreciation is provided on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful lives, which are reviewed periodically and have the following ranges:
Buildings 30-40 years
Equipment 3-10 years
Leasehold improvements Lesser of Useful Life or Initial Lease Term

Land is not depreciated and construction in progress is not depreciated until ready for service. Depreciation is not recorded during the period in which a long-lived asset or disposal group is classified as held for sale. Expenditures for maintenance and repairs are charged to expense as incurred.

Software Development

The Company incurs costs related to internally developed software or software acquired for internal use. Depending on the applicable stage of the software development, costs may be capitalized or expensed as incurred. Capitalized costs are amortized on a straight-line basis over the five-year estimated useful life.  As of December 31, 2020, capitalized software costs and accumulated amortization were $23,480 and $16,025, respectively, and as of December 31, 2019, capitalized software costs and accumulated amortization were $21,536 and $14,133, respectively. Capitalized software costs, net of accumulated amortization was recorded in "Property and equipment" on the Consolidated Balance Sheets. Software development cost amortization was $2,053, $1,714 and $1,779 for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. The Company estimates amortization of existing software development costs will be $1,988 for 2021, $1,749 for 2022, $1,472 for 2023, $1,124 for 2024 and $507 for 2025.


The Company evaluates goodwill for impairment annually, as of June 30, or more frequently when an event occurs or circumstances change that indicate the carrying value may not be recoverable. In order to test for impairment, the Company compares the estimated fair value of the reporting unit to its carrying value, including goodwill. If the estimated fair value of the reporting unit is lower than its carrying value, the goodwill is adjusted by the amount by which the carrying value exceeds the estimated fair value, limited to the amount of goodwill. The Company has the option to perform a qualitative assessment of
goodwill in order to determine whether it is more likely than not the estimated fair value of the reporting unit is less than the carrying value, including goodwill.

Self-Insurance Loss Reserves

Under U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) regulations, the Company is liable for bodily injury and property damage caused by Leased Capacity Providers and employee drivers while they are operating equipment under the Company’s various motor carrier authorities. The potential liability associated with any accident can be severe and occurrences are unpredictable.

For vehicle liability, the Company retains a portion of the risk. Below is a summary of the Company’s risk retention on vehicle liability insurance coverage maintained by the Company through $10,000:

Risk Retention
Frequency Layer Policy Term
Expedited Freight¹
LTL business $ 3,000  Occurrence/Accident² $0 to $3,000 10/1/2020 to 10/1/2021
Truckload business $ 2,000  Occurrence/Accident² $0 to $2,000 10/1/2020 to 10/1/2021
LTL and Truckload businesses $ 6,000  Policy Term Aggregate³ $3,000 to $5,000 10/1/2020 to 10/1/2021
LTL and Truckload businesses $ 5,000  Policy Term Aggregate³ $5,000 to $10,000 10/1/2020 to 10/1/2021
Intermodal $ 250  Occurrence/Accident² $0 to $250 4/1/2020 to 10/1/2021
¹ Excluding the Final Mile business, which is primarily a brokered service.
² For each and every accident, the Company is responsible for damages and defense up to these amounts, regardless of the number of claims associated with any accident.
³ During the Policy Term, the Company is responsible for damages and defense within the stated Layer up to the stated, aggregate amount of Company Risk Retention before insurance will respond.

Also, from time to time, when brokering freight, the Company may face claims for the “negligent selection” of outside, contracted carriers that are involved in accidents, and the Company maintains third-party liability insurance coverage with a $100 deductible per occurrence for most of its brokered services. Additionally, the Company maintains workers’ compensation insurance with a self-insured retention of $500 per occurrence.

The Company provides for the estimated costs of vehicle liability and workers’ compensation claims both reported and for claims incurred but not reported. The amount of self-insurance loss reserves and loss adjustment expenses is determined based on an estimation process that uses information obtained from both Company-specific and industry data, as well as general economic information. The Company estimates its self-insurance loss exposure by evaluating the merits and circumstances surrounding individual known claims and through actuarial analysis to determine an estimate of probable losses on claims incurred but not reported. If the events underlying the claims have occurred as of the balance sheet date, then losses are recognized immediately.

As of December 31, 2020 and 2019, the Company recorded insurance reserves of $72,650 and $66,176, respectively, inclusive of reserves in excess of the self-insured retention limit that are expected to be reimbursed from insurance carriers. As of December 31, 2020, $20,342 was recorded in “Insurance and claims accruals” and $52,308 was recorded in “Other long-term liabilities” in the Consolidated Balance Sheets. As of December 31, 2019, $16,366 was recorded in “Insurance and claims accruals” and $49,810 was recorded in “Other long-term liabilities” in the Consolidated Balance Sheets.

The Company recognized a receivable for insurance proceeds and a corresponding claims payable for vehicle liability and workers’ compensation claims in excess of the self-insured retention limit. As of December 31, 2020 and 2019, the Company recorded $36,743 and $34,091, respectively, in “Other assets” and “Other long-term liabilities” in the Consolidated Balance Sheets.
Revenue Recognition
Revenue is recognized when the Company satisfies the performance obligation by the delivery of a shipment in accordance with contractual agreements, bill of lading (“BOL”) and general tariff provisions. The amount of revenue recognized is measured as the consideration the Company expects to receive in exchange for those services pursuant to a contract with a customer. A contract exists once the Company enters into a contractual agreement with a customer. The Company does not recognize revenue in cases where collectibility is not probable, and defers recognition until collection is probable or payment is received.

The Company generates revenue from the delivery of a shipment and the completion of related services. Revenue for the delivery of a shipment is recorded over time to coincide with when customers simultaneously receive and consume the benefits of the delivery services. Accordingly, revenue billed to a customer for the transportation of freight are recognized over the transit period as the performance obligation to the customer is satisfied. The Company determines the transit period for a shipment based on the pick-up date and the delivery date, which may be estimated if delivery has not occurred as of a reporting period. The determination of the transit period and how much of it has been completed as of a given reporting date may require the Company to make judgments that impact the timing of revenue recognized. For delivery of shipments with a pick-up date in one reporting period and a delivery date in another reporting period, the Company recognizes revenue based on relative transit time in each reporting period. A portion of the total revenue to be billed to the customer after completion of a delivery is recognized in each reporting period based on the percentage of total transit time that has been completed at the end of the applicable reporting period. Upon delivery of a shipment or related service, customers are billed according to the applicable payment terms. Related services are a separate performance obligation and include accessorial charges such as terminal handling, storage, equipment rentals and customs brokerage.

Revenue is classified based on the line of business as the Company believes this best depicts the nature, timing and amount of revenue and cash flows. For all lines of business, the Company records revenue on a gross basis as it is the principal in the transaction as the Company has discretion to determine the amount of consideration. Additionally, the Company has the discretion to select drivers and other vendors for the services provided to customers. These factors, discretion in the amount of consideration and the selection of drivers and other vendors, support revenue recognized on a gross basis.

Effective, January 1, 2019, the Company adopted Accounting Standards Codification 842, Leases, ("ASC 842"). Under ASC 842, lessees are required to record an asset (right-of-use asset or finance lease asset) and a lease liability. ASC 842 allows for two types of leases for recognition purposes: operating leases and finance leases. Operating leases result in the recognition of a single lease expense on a straight-line basis over the lease term, while finance leases result in an accelerated expense. The Company determines if an arrangement contains a lease at inception based on whether or not the Company has the right to control the asset during the contract period. Operating lease right-of-use assets represent the Company’s right to use an underlying asset for the lease term while operating lease liabilities represent the Company’s obligation to make lease payments for the lease term. All leases greater than 12 months result in the recognition of a right-of-use asset and liability at the lease commencement date based on the present value of the lease payments over the lease term. The present value of the lease payments is calculated using the applicable weighted-average discount rate. The weighted-average discount rate is based on the discount rate implicit in the lease, or if the implicit rate is not readily determinable from the lease, then the Company estimates an applicable incremental borrowing rate. The incremental borrowing rate is estimated based on the contractual lease term and the Company’s collateral borrowing rate.

Business Combinations

Upon the acquisition of a business, the fair value of the assets acquired and liabilities assumed must be estimated. This requires judgments regarding the identification of acquired assets and liabilities assumed, some of which may not have been previously recorded by the acquired business, as well as judgments regarding the valuation of all identified acquired assets and assumed liabilities. The assets acquired and liabilities assumed are determined by reviewing the operations, interviewing management and reviewing the financial and contractual information of the acquired business. Consideration is typically paid in the form of cash paid upon closing or contingent consideration paid upon satisfaction of a future obligation. If contingent consideration is included in the purchase price, the Company values that consideration as of the acquisition date and it is recorded to goodwill.
Once the acquired assets and assumed liabilities are identified, the fair value of the assets and liabilities are estimated using a variety of approaches that require significant judgments. For example, intangible assets are typically valued using a discounted cash flow (“DCF”) analysis, which requires estimates of the future cash flows that are attributable to the intangible asset. A DCF analysis also requires significant judgments regarding the selection of discount rates that are intended to reflect the risks that are inherent in the projected cash flows, the determination of terminal growth rates, and judgments about the useful life and pattern of use of the underlying intangible asset. The valuation of acquired property, plant and equipment requires judgments about current market values, replacement costs, the physical and functional obsolescence of the assets and their remaining useful lives. A failure to appropriately assign fair values to acquired assets and assumed liabilities could significantly impact the amount and timing of future depreciation and amortization expense, as well as significantly overstate or understate assets or liabilities.

Income Taxes

Income taxes are accounted for under the asset and liability method. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases and operating loss and tax credit carryforwards. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years 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 rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.

The Company is involved in various tax matters, with respect to some of which the outcome is uncertain. We establish reserves to remove some or all of the tax benefit of any of our tax positions at the time we determine that it becomes uncertain the tax position is not more likely than not to be sustained, the tax position is more likely than not to be sustained, but for a lesser amount, or the tax position is more likely than not to be sustained, but not in the financial period in which the tax position was originally taken. A number of years may elapse before a particular uncertain tax position is audited and finally resolved or when a tax assessment is raised. The number of years subject to tax assessments varies depending on the tax jurisdiction. The tax benefit that has been previously reserved because of a failure to meet the more likely than not recognition threshold would be recognized in income tax expense in the first period when the uncertainty disappears under any one of the following conditions: the tax position is more likely than not to be sustained, the tax position, amount, and/or timing is ultimately settled through negotiation or litigation, or the statute of limitations for the tax position has expired. The Company recognizes interest and penalties, if any, related to unrecognized tax benefits in “Interest expense, net” and “Other operating expenses”, respectively.

Net Income Per Common Share

Basic net income per common share is computed by dividing net income by the weighted-average number of common shares outstanding during each period. Restricted shares have non-forfeitable rights to dividends and as a result, are considered participating securities for purposes of computing net income per common share pursuant to the two-class method. Net income allocated to participating securities was $385 in 2020, $945 in 2019 and $881 in 2018. Diluted net income per common share assumes the exercise of outstanding stock options and the vesting of performance share awards using the treasury stock method when the effects of such assumptions are dilutive.

Share-Based Compensation
The Company grants awards under the stock-based compensation plans to certain employees of the Company. The awards include stock options, restricted shares and performance shares. The fair value of the stock options is estimated on the grant date using the Black-Scholes option pricing model, and share-based compensation expense is recognized on a straight-line basis over the three-year vesting period. The fair value of the restricted shares is the quoted market value of the Company’s common stock on the grant date, and the share-based compensation expense is recognized on a straight-line basis over the vesting period. For certain performance shares, the fair value is the quote market value of the Company’s common stock on the grant date less the present value of the expected dividends not received during the relevant period. For these performance shares, the share-based compensation expense is recognized on a straight-line basis over the three-year vesting period based on the projected assessment of the level of performance that will be achieved. The fair value of other performance shares that have a financial target of the Company’s total shareholder return as compared to the total shareholder return of a selected peer group, is estimated on the grant date using a Monte Carlo simulation model. The share-based compensation expense is recognized on a
straight-line basis over the three-year vesting period. All share-based compensation expense is recognized in salaries, wages and employee benefits on the Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income. Refer to Note 5, Stockholders’ Equity, Stock Incentive Plan and Net Income Per Share, for further discussion.
Ransomware Incident

In December 2020, the Company detected a ransomware incident impacting its operational and information technology systems, which caused service delays for many of its customers (“Ransomware Incident”). Promptly upon its detection of the incident, the Company initiated response protocols, launched an investigation and engaged the services of cybersecurity and forensics professionals. The Company has also engaged with the appropriate law enforcement authorities. The Company continues to cooperate with law enforcement in connection with the criminal investigation into those responsible for the Ransomware Incident.

Through December 31, 2020, the Company recorded $1,560 of expenses related to the Ransomware Incident. We have classified these expenses as “Other operating expenses” in the Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for the year ended December 31, 2020. Expenses include costs to investigate and remediate the Ransomware Incident and legal and other professional services related to the incident, all of which were expensed as incurred.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

In June 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update 2016-13 ("ASU 2016-13"), Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments, which replaces the incurred loss methodology previously used to measure credit losses for most financial assets and requires the use of a forward-looking expected loss model. Under ASU 2016-13, credit losses are recognized when it is probable a loss has been incurred. The new standard requires financial assets to be measured at amortized costs less a reserve, equal to the net amount expected to be collected. ASU 2016-13 is effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2019, including interim periods within those fiscal years, with early adoption permitted. In April 2019, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update 2019-04, Codification Improvements to Topic 326, Financial Instruments - Credit Losses, Topic 815, Derivatives and Hedging, and Topic 825, Financial Instruments (“ASU 2019-04”), which provides, among other things, targeted improvements to certain aspects of accounting for credit losses addressed by ASU 2016-13. In November 2019, the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update 2019-11, Codification Improvements to Topic 326, Financial Instruments - Credit Losses (“ASU 2019-11”), which clarifies the treatment of expected recoveries for amounts previously written-off on purchased receivables, provides transition relief for troubled debt restructurings and allows for certain disclosure simplifications of accrued interest. The effective dates for both ASU 2019-04 and ASU 2019-11 are the same as the effective date for ASU 2016-13. The Company adopted this standard, and its subsequent modifications, as of January 1, 2020, which resulted in the Company revising its allowance for doubtful accounts policy on a prospective basis. The adoption of this standard did not have a material impact on the Company’s results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.