Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Operations and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)

Operations and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies (Policies)
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2022
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Basis of Presentation
Forward Air Corporation and its subsidiaries (“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, Canada, and Mexico.

The Expedited Freight segment provides expedited regional, inter-regional and national less-than-truckload (“LTL), truckload and final mile services. Expedited Freight also offers customers local pick-up and delivery and other services including shipment consolidation and deconsolidation, warehousing, customs brokerage and other handling services.
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.
Principles of Consolidation 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 Directors (the “Board”) of the Company approved a strategy to divest of the Pool Distribution business (“Pool), and the sale of Pool was completed on February 12, 2021. Pool provided high-frequency handling and distribution of time sensitive products to numerous destinations within a specific geographic region. As a result of the strategy to divest of Pool, the results of operations for Pool were presented as a discontinued operation in the Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for the prior periods. Unless otherwise noted, amounts, percentages and discussion for all periods reflect the results of operations, financial condition and cash flows from the Company’s continuing operations. 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. 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. Certain prior period amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current period presentation.
Cash and Cash Equivalents The Company considers all investments with an original maturity of three months or less to be cash and cash equivalents.
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, the Company records a specific reserve in order to reduce the net recognized accounts 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. The Company sets the general reserve based on historical collection experience combined with forecasts about any expected changes to the collection experience. If circumstances change, expected recoverability of amounts due to the Company may change 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 as result of future billing rate changes. 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. In 2022, average revenue adjustments per month were approximately $946 on average revenue per month of approximately $164,450 (0.6% of monthly revenue). The Company estimates an allowance for revenue adjustments based on historical experience, trends and current information. The average amount of revenue adjustments per month can vary in relation to the level of revenue or as a result of other factors. Both the average monthly revenue adjustments and the average lag assumptions are continually evaluated for appropriateness.
Inventories 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 of 30 to 40 years for building and improvements, three to ten years for equipment, the lesser of the estimated useful life or the initial lease term for leasehold improvements and five years for computer software. Land is not depreciated and construction in progress is not depreciated until ready for service. Expenditures for maintenance and repairs are charged to expense as incurred. For internally developed software, all costs incurred during planning and evaluation are expensed. Costs incurred during the application development stage are capitalized and included in property and equipment. Capitalized software also includes software acquired for internal use.
Cloud Computing Costs The Company capitalizes the costs incurred during the implementation stage for cloud computing or hosting arrangements. Costs incurred in the preliminary project stage and post-implementation stage, which includes maintenance and training costs, are expensed as incurred.
The Company tests goodwill for impairment, at the reporting unit level, annually and when events or circumstances indicate that fair value of a reporting unit may be below its carrying value. A reporting unit is an operating segment or one level below an operating segment, for example, a component. The Company’s reporting units are not its reportable segments.

Goodwill is evaluated annually as of June 30 for impairment using a qualitative assessment or a quantitative one-step assessment. If the Company elects to perform a qualitative assessment and determines the fair value of its reporting units more likely than not exceed the carrying value of their net assets, no further evaluation is necessary. For reporting units where the Company performs a one-step quantitative assessment, the Company compares the estimated fair value of each reporting unit, which is determined based on a combination of an income approach using a discounted cash flow model, and a market approach, which considers comparable companies, to its respective carrying value of net assets, including goodwill. If the estimated fair value of the reporting unit exceeds its carrying value of net assets, the goodwill is not considered impaired. If the carrying value of net assets is higher than the estimated fair value of the reporting unit, the impairment charge is the amount by which the carrying value exceeds the reporting unit’s estimated fair value.

The Company reviews its long-lived assets, which include intangible assets subject to amortization, for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. The evaluation for recoverability is performed at a level where independent cash flows may be attributed to either an asset or asset group. If the Company determines that the carrying amount of an asset or asset group is not recoverable based on the expected undiscounted future cash flows of the asset or asset group, an impairment loss is recorded equal to the excess of the carrying amounts over the estimated fair value of the long-lived assets. Estimates of future cash flows are based on various factors, including current operating results, expected market trends and competitive influences. The Company also evaluates the amortization periods assigned to its intangible assets to determine whether events or changes in circumstances warrant revised estimates of useful lives. Assets to be disposed of by sale are reported at the lower of the carrying amount or estimated fair value, less estimated costs to sell.
Self-Insurance Loss Reserves The Company’s licensed motor carrier contracts with independent contractor fleets, owner-operators and other third-party transportation capacity providers for most of the transportation services. The Company’s independent contractor fleet owners and owner-operators lease their equipment to the Company (“Leased Capacity Providers”) and own, operate and maintain their own tractors and employ their own drivers. Under U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) regulations, the Company is liable for bodily injury and property damage caused by the 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.
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 most significant assumptions used in the estimation process include determining the trend in loss costs, the expected consistency in the frequency and severity of claims incurred but not yet reported, changes in the timing of the reporting of losses from the loss date to the notification date, and expected costs to settle unpaid claims. 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. The Company accrues for the costs of the uninsured portion of pending claims, based on the nature and severity of individual claims and historical claims development trends. Estimating the number and severity of claims, as well as related judgment or settlement amounts is inherently difficult. Failure to establish sufficient insurance reserves and adequately estimate for future insurance claims may cause unfavorable differences between actual self-insurance costs and the reserve estimates.
Revenue Recognition
Revenue is recognized when the Company satisfies the performance obligation by the delivery of a shipment in accordance with contractual agreements, bills of lading (“BOLs”) 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 that 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.
Leases The Company accounts for leases under Accounting Standards Codification 842, Leases, (“ASC 842”), where 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. 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 applicable borrowing rate.
Business Combinations Upon the acquisition of a business, the fair value of the assets acquired and liabilities assumed are estimated, which may require judgment regarding the identification of acquired assets and liabilities assumed. 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 intangible assets, significant judgments include, but are not limited to, future cash flows, selection of discount rates, determination of terminal growth rates, and estimated useful life and pattern of use of the underlying intangible assets. For tangible assets, significant judgements, include, but are not limited to, current market values, physical and functional obsolescence of the assets, and remaining useful lives. Consideration is typically paid in the form of cash paid upon closing while contingent consideration is paid upon the satisfaction of a future obligation. If contingent consideration is included as a component of the consideration, the Company values the consideration as of the acquisition date.
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. Refer to Note 7, Income Taxes, for further discussion.
Net Income (Loss) Per Share Basic net income (loss) per common share is computed by dividing net income (loss) 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 (loss) per common share pursuant to the two-class method. Net income allocated to participating securities was $1,070 in 2022, $737 in 2021 and $385 in 2020. Diluted net income (loss) 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 quoted 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 in the Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements In December 2019, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2019-12, Income Taxes (Topic 740): Simplifying the Accounting for Income Taxes. The standard simplifies the accounting for income taxes by removing certain exceptions to the general principles of accounting for income taxes and improving consistent application of the principles. ASU 2019-12 is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2020, including interim periods within those fiscal years, with early adoption permitted. The Company adopted this standard as of January 1, 2021. The adoption of the standard did not have a material impact on the Company’s results of operations, financial condition, or cash flows.
New Accounting Pronouncements to be Adopted
In October 2021, FASB issued ASU 2021-08, Business Combinations (Topic 805): Accounting for Contract Assets and Contract Liabilities from Contracts with Customers. The standard addresses the recognition of an acquired contract liability in a business combination and the recognition and measurement of contract assets and contract liabilities from revenue contracts acquired in a business combination. ASU 2021-08 is effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2022, including interim periods within those fiscal years, with early adoption permitted. The Company is currently evaluating the adoption of ASU 2021-08 and the impact, if any, adoption will have on its operations, financial condition, or cash flows.