Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of significant accounting policies

Summary of significant accounting policies
12 Months Ended
Feb. 02, 2019
Summary of significant accounting policies  
Summary of significant accounting policies

2.   Summary of significant accounting policies

Fiscal year

The Company’s fiscal year is the 52 or 53 weeks ending on the Saturday closest to January 31. The Company’s fiscal years ended February 2, 2019 (fiscal 2018),  February 3, 2018 (fiscal 2017), and January 28, 2017 (fiscal 2016) were 52,  53, and 52-week years, respectively. 


The Company’s consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the Company and its wholly owned subsidiaries. All significant intercompany accounts, transactions, and unrealized profit were eliminated in consolidation.

Use of estimates

The preparation of 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 at the date of the consolidated financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the accounting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.


Certain prior year amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current year presentation.

Cash and cash equivalents

Cash and cash equivalents include cash on hand and highly liquid investments with original maturities of three months or less from the date of purchase. Cash equivalents also include amounts due from third-party financial institutions for credit card and debit card transactions. These receivables typically settle in five days or less with little or no default risk. Amounts from third-party financial institutions for credit card and debit card transactions were $57,698 and $60,773 as of February 2, 2019 and February 3, 2018, respectively.

Short-term investments

The Company determines the balance sheet classification of its investments at the time of purchase and evaluates the classification at each balance sheet date. Money market funds, certificates of deposit, and time deposits with maturities of greater than three months but no more than twelve months are carried at cost, which approximates fair value and are recorded in the consolidated balance sheets in short-term investments (see Note 13, “Investments”).


Receivables consist principally of amounts due from vendors and landlord construction allowances earned but not yet received. These receivables are computed based on provisions of the vendor and lease agreements in place and the Company’s completed performance. The Company does not require collateral on its receivables and does not accrue interest. Credit risk with respect to receivables is limited due to the diversity of vendors and landlords comprising the Company’s vendor base. The Company performs ongoing credit evaluations of its vendors and evaluates the collectability of its receivables based on the length of time the receivable is past due and historical experience.

The receivable for vendor allowances was $97,885 and $78,238 as of February 2, 2019 and February 3, 2018, respectively. The receivable for landlord allowances was $19,746 and $12,729 as of February 2, 2019 and February 3, 2018, respectively. The allowance for doubtful receivables was $651 and $1,371 as of February 2, 2019 and February 3, 2018, respectively.

Merchandise inventories

Merchandise inventories are stated at the lower of cost or market. Cost is determined using the weighted-average cost method and includes costs incurred to purchase and distribute goods. Inventory cost also includes vendor allowances related to co-op advertising, markdowns, and volume discounts. The Company maintains an inventory reserve for lower of cost or market and shrink. The inventory reserve was $36,640 and $24,804 as of February 2, 2019 and February 3, 2018, respectively.

Fair value of financial instruments

The carrying value of cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable, and accounts payable approximates their estimated fair values due to the short maturities of these instruments. The Company had no outstanding debt as of February 2, 2019 and February 3, 2018.

Property and equipment

The Company’s property and equipment are stated at cost, net of accumulated depreciation and amortization. Maintenance and repairs are charged to operating expense as incurred. The Company’s assets are depreciated or amortized using the straight-line method over the shorter of their estimated useful lives or the expected lease term as follows:



Equipment and fixtures

3 to 10 years

Leasehold improvements

10 years

Electronic equipment and software

3 to 5 years


The Company capitalizes costs incurred during the application development stage in developing or purchasing internal use software. These costs are amortized over the estimated useful life of the software.

The Company periodically evaluates whether changes have occurred that would require revision of the remaining useful life of equipment and leasehold improvements or render them not recoverable. If such circumstances arise, the Company uses an estimate of the undiscounted sum of expected future operating cash flows during their holding period to determine whether the long-lived assets are impaired. If the aggregate undiscounted cash flows are less than the carrying amount of the assets, the resulting impairment charges to be recorded are calculated based on the excess of the carrying value of the assets over the fair value of such assets. No significant impairment charges were recognized in fiscal 2018, fiscal 2017, or fiscal 2016. Impairment charges are included in selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses in the consolidated statements of income.


Goodwill represents the excess of cost over the fair value of net assets acquired. The Company reviews the recoverability of goodwill annually during the fourth quarter or more frequently if an event occurs or circumstances change that would indicate that impairment may exist (see Note 6, “Goodwill”).


Other intangible assets


Other definite-lived intangible assets are amortized over their useful lives. The Company reviews the recoverability of long-lived assets whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying amount of such assets may not be recoverable (see Note 7, “Other intangible assets”).

Loyalty program

The Company maintains a loyalty program, Ultamate Rewards, which allows members to earn points based on purchases of merchandise or services. Points earned are valid for at least one year. The loyalty program represents a material right to the customer and points may be redeemed on future products and services. The relative standalone selling price of points earned by members is included in deferred revenue on the consolidated balance sheets based on the percentage of points expected to be redeemed. The expected redemption percentage is based on historical redemption patterns and considers current information or trends.

When a guest redeems points or the points expire, the Company recognizes revenue in net sales on the consolidated statements of income.

Prior to fiscal 2018, loyalty program revenue was recorded using the incremental cost method within cost of sales on the consolidated statements of income.

Credit cards

The Company has agreements (the Agreements) with third parties to provide guests with private label credit cards and/or co-branded credit cards (collectively, the Credit Cards). The private label credit card can be used at any store location and online, and the co-branded credit card can be used anywhere the co-branded card is accepted. A third-party financing company is the sole owner of the accounts and underwrites the credit issued under the Credit Card programs. The Company’s performance obligation is to maintain the Ultamate Rewards loyalty program as only guests enrolled in the loyalty program can apply for the Credit Cards. Loyalty members earn points through purchases at Ulta Beauty and anywhere the co-branded credit card is accepted.

The third parties reimburse the Company for certain credit card program costs such as advertising and loyalty points, which help promote the credit card program. The Company recognizes revenue when collectability is reasonably assured, under the assumption the amounts are not constrained and it is probable that a significant revenue reversal will not occur in future periods, which is generally the time at which the actual usage of the Credit Cards or specified transaction occurs.

The Company accounts for the amounts associated with the Agreements as a single contract with the sole commercial objective to maintain the Credit Card programs. As a result, all amounts associated with the Agreements are recognized within net sales on the consolidated statements of income.

Other administrative costs related to the Credit Card programs, including payroll, marketing expenses, and other direct costs, are included in SG&A expenses on the consolidated statements of income.

Deferred rent

Many of the Company’s operating leases contain predetermined fixed increases of the minimum rental rate during the lease term. For these leases, the Company recognizes the related rental expense on a straight-line basis over the expected lease term and records the difference between the amounts charged to expense and the rent paid as deferred rent. The lease term commences on the date the Company takes possession of the leased space.

For most lease agreements, the Company receives construction allowances from landlords for tenant improvements. These leasehold improvements made by the Company are capitalized and amortized over the shorter of the lease term or 10 years. The construction allowances are recorded as deferred rent and amortized on a straight-line basis over the lease term as a reduction of rent expense.

Gift card program

The Company records a contract liability for gift card sales which will be redeemed in the future within deferred revenue on the consolidated balance sheets and recognized in net sales when the gift card is redeemed for product or services. The Company’s gift cards do not expire and do not include service fees that decrease guest balances. The Company has maintained historical data related to gift card transactions sold and redeemed over a significant time frame. The Company recognizes gift card breakage (amounts not expected to be redeemed) to the extent there is no requirement for remitting balances to governmental agencies under unclaimed property laws. Estimated gift card breakage revenue is recognized over time in proportion to actual gift card redemptions. Gift card breakage revenue was $12,446,  $7,783, and $5,335 in fiscal 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively.

Revenue recognition

Revenue is recognized when control of the promised goods or services is transferred to the guest, in an amount that reflects the consideration the Company expects to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services.

The Company determines revenue recognition through the following steps:


Identification of the contract, or contracts, with a guest;


Identification of the performance obligations in the contract;


Determination of the transaction price;


Allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract; and


Recognition of revenue when, or as, a performance obligation is satisfied.


The Company’s net sales include retail stores and e-commerce merchandise sales as well as salon services and other revenue.

Revenue from merchandise sales at retail stores is recognized at the point of sale, net of estimated returns. Revenue from e-commerce merchandise sales is recognized upon shipment of the merchandise to the guest based on meeting the transfer of control criteria, net of estimated returns. E-commerce revenue amounted to $752,224,  $568,736, and $345,342 in fiscal 2018, 2017, and 2016, respectively. Shipping and handling are treated as costs to fulfill the contract, and as a result, any fees received from guests are included in the transaction price allocated to the performance obligation of providing goods with a corresponding amount accrued within cost of sales for amounts paid to applicable carriers. The Company provides refunds for merchandise returns within 60 days from the original purchase date. State sales taxes are presented on a net basis as the Company considers itself a pass-through conduit for collecting and remitting state sales tax. Company coupons and other incentives are recorded as a reduction of net sales. 

Salon services revenue is recognized at the time the service is provided to the guest. Salon service revenue was $300,863,  $277,361, and $241,105 in fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016, respectively.

Other revenue sources include the private label credit card and co-branded credit card programs, as well as deferred revenue related to the loyalty program and gift card breakage.

Vendor allowances

The Company receives allowances from vendors in the normal course of business including advertising and markdown allowances, purchase volume discounts and rebates, reimbursement for defective merchandise, and certain selling and display expenses. Substantially all vendor allowances are recorded as a reduction of the vendor’s product cost and are recognized in cost of sales as the product is sold.


Advertising expense consists principally of print, digital and social media, and television and radio advertising. The Company expenses the costs related to its advertising in the period the related promotional event occurs. Total advertising costs, exclusive of incentives from vendors and start-up advertising expense, amounted to $294,489,  $259,423, and $212,714 in fiscal 2018,  2017 and 2016, respectively. Advertising expense as a percentage of sales was 4.4% in fiscal 2018,  2017 and 2016. Prepaid advertising costs included in prepaid expenses and other current assets on the consolidated balance sheets were $9,384 and $12,811 as of February 2, 2019 and February 3, 2018, respectively.

Pre-opening expenses

Non-capital expenditures incurred prior to the grand opening of a new, remodeled, or relocated store are expensed as incurred.

Cost of sales

Cost of sales includes the cost of merchandise sold, including substantially all vendor allowances, which are treated as a reduction of merchandise costs; distribution costs including labor and related benefits, freight, rent, depreciation and amortization, real estate taxes, utilities, and insurance; shipping and handling costs; retail stores occupancy costs including rent, depreciation and amortization, real estate taxes, utilities, repairs and maintenance, insurance, licenses, and cleaning expenses; salon services payroll and benefits; and shrink and inventory valuation reserves.

Selling, general and administrative expenses

SG&A expenses includes payroll, bonus, and benefit costs for retail and corporate employees; advertising and marketing costs; occupancy costs related to our corporate office facilities; stock-based compensation expense; depreciation and amortization for all assets, except those related to our retail store and distribution operations, which are included in cost of sales; and legal, finance, information systems, and other corporate overhead costs.

Income taxes

Deferred income taxes reflect the net tax effect of temporary differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of assets and liabilities and their tax bases. The amounts reported were derived using the enacted tax rates in effect for the year the differences are expected to reverse.

Income tax benefits related to uncertain tax positions are recognized only when it is more likely than not that the tax position will be sustained on examination by the taxing authorities. The determination is based on the technical merits of the position and presumes that each uncertain tax position will be examined by the relevant taxing authority that has full knowledge of all relevant information. Penalties and interest related to unrecognized tax positions are recorded in income tax expense in the consolidated statements of income.

Share-based compensation

Share-based compensation cost is measured at grant date, based on the fair value of the award, and is recognized on a straight-line basis over the requisite service period for awards expected to vest. The Company recorded stock compensation expense of $27,489,  $24,399, and $19,340 in fiscal 2018,  2017, and 2016, respectively (see Note 14, “Share-based awards”).

Insurance expense

The Company has insurance programs with third party insurers for employee health, workers compensation, and general liability, among others, to limit the Company’s liability exposure. The insurance programs are premium based and include retentions, deductibles, and stop loss coverage. Current stop loss coverage per claim is $350 for employee health claims, $100 for general liability claims, and $250 for workers compensation claims. The Company makes collateral and premium payments during the plan year and accrues expenses in the event additional premium is due from the Company based on actual claim results. In fiscal 2018, the Company created UB Insurance, Inc., an Arizona-based wholly owned captive insurance subsidiary of the Company, which charges the operating subsidiaries of the Company premiums to insure certain liability exposures. Pursuant to Arizona insurance regulations, UB Insurance, Inc. maintains certain levels of cash and cash equivalents related to its liability exposures.

Net income per common share

Basic net income per common share is computed by dividing income available to common stockholders by the weighted-average number of shares of common stock outstanding during the period. Diluted net income per common share includes dilutive common stock equivalents, using the treasury stock method (see Note 15, “Net income per common share”).

Recent accounting pronouncements not yet adopted


In February 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016‑02, Leases (Topic 842). The guidance in ASU 2016-02 and subsequently issued amendments requires lessees to capitalize virtually all leases with terms of more than twelve months on the balance sheet as a right-of-use asset and recognize an associated lease liability. The right-of-use asset represents the lessee’s right to use, or control the use of, a specified asset for the specified lease term. The lease liability represents the lessee’s obligation to make lease payments arising from the lease, measured on a discounted basis. Based on certain characteristics, leases are classified as financing or operating leases and their classification impacts the recognition of expense in the income statement. Entities are allowed to apply the modified retrospective approach (1) retrospectively to each comparative period presented or (2) retrospectively at the beginning of the period of adoption through a cumulative-effect adjustment. ASU 2016‑02 is effective for public companies for interim and annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2018.


The Company will adopt the new standard on February 3, 2019 using the modified retrospective approach.  Therefore, upon adoption, the Company will recognize and measure leases without revising comparative period information or disclosures.


The Company formed a cross-functional project team to assess the impact of the standard on the consolidated financial statements, which included updating the lease software and identifying changes to processes and controls. The Company plans to implement the transition package of three practical expedients permitted within the standard, which among other things, allows for the carryforward of historical lease classifications. The Company will make an accounting policy election to keep leases with terms of twelve months or less off the balance sheet and result in recognizing those lease payments on a straight-line basis over the lease term.


As a result of adopting ASU 201602, the Company estimates it will record lease liabilities of approximately $1,900,000 with a corresponding amount for the right-of-use assets, which will also be adjusted by reclassifications of existing assets and liabilities primarily related to deferred rent. The adoption of this new standard is not expected to have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated results of operations or cash flows.


Intangibles – Goodwill and Other-Internal-Use Software


In August 2018, the FASB issued ASU 2018-15, Intangibles – Goodwill and Other-Internal-Use Software (Subtopic 350-40): Customers Accounting for Implementation Costs Incurred in a Cloud Computing Arrangement That is a Service Contract, which clarifies and aligns the accounting for capitalizing implementation costs incurred in a hosting arrangement that is a service contract with the requirements for capitalizing implementation costs incurred to develop or obtain internal-use software. This guidance is effective for interim and annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2019 and should be applied either retrospectively or prospectively to all implementation costs incurred after the date of adoption. Early adoption is permitted. The adoption of ASU 2018-15 is not expected to have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows. 


Recently adopted accounting pronouncements

Revenue Recognition from Contracts with Customers


In May 2014, the FASB issued ASU 2014‑09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (ASU 2014‑09), issued as a new Topic, Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (ASC 606), which supersedes the revenue recognition requirements in ASC 605, Revenue Recognition (ASC 605). The guidance in ASU 2014-09 and subsequently issued amendments outlines a comprehensive model for all entities to use in accounting for revenue arising from contracts with customers as well as required disclosures. Under the new standard, recognition of revenue occurs when a customer obtains control of promised goods or services in an amount that reflects the consideration, which the entity expects to receive in exchange for those goods or services. The new standard requires additional disclosure of the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue and cash flows arising from contracts with customers including significant judgments and changes in judgments.

The Company adopted the new revenue standard effective February 4, 2018 using the modified retrospective transition method applied to all contracts with the cumulative effect recorded to the opening balance of retained earnings as of the date of adoption. The comparative information has not been restated and continues to be reported under accounting standards in effect for those periods. The adoption of the new revenue standard did not have a material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flows. The Company expects the impact of the adoption of the new revenue standard will be immaterial to net income on an ongoing basis. See Note 4, “Revenue”, for further details.

Intangibles – Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): Simplifying the Test for Goodwill Impairment


In January 2017, the FASB issued ASU 2017-04, Intangibles – Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): Simplifying the Test for Goodwill Impairment, which simplifies how all entities assess goodwill for impairment by eliminating Step 2 from the goodwill impairment test. As amended, the goodwill impairment test will consist of one step comparing the fair value of a reporting unit with its carrying amount. An entity should recognize a goodwill impairment charge for the amount by which the carrying amount exceeds the reporting unit’s fair value, except that the loss recognized should not exceed the total amount of goodwill allocated to the reporting unit. This guidance is effective for interim and annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2019 and should be applied prospectively. Early adoption is permitted. The Company early adopted the new guidance, prospectively, in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018, and its adoption had no material impact on the Company’s consolidated financial position, results of operation, or cash flows.