Our business depends on maintaining a sufficient supply of various products to meet our customers' demands. We have long-standing relationships with key suppliers but these relationships are non-exclusive and could be terminated by either party. If we lost a key supplier, or were unable to obtain the same levels of deliveries from these suppliers and were unable to supplement those purchases with products obtained from other suppliers, it could have a material adverse effect on our business. Additionally, we rely on foreign and domestic suppliers and commodity markets to secure raw materials used in many of the products we manufacture within the Aerospace segment or sell within our Distribution segment. This exposes us to volatility in the price and availability of raw materials. In some instances, we depend upon a single source of supply. Supply interruptions could arise from shortages of raw materials, labor disputes or weather conditions affecting suppliers' production, transportation disruptions, or other reasons beyond our control. Even if we continue with our current supplier relationships, high demand for certain products may result in us being unable to meet our customers' demands, which could put us at a competitive disadvantage. Additionally, our key suppliers could also increase pricing of their products, which would negatively affect our operating results if we were not able to pass these price increases through to our customers. We base our supply management process on an appropriate balancing of the foreseeable risks and the costs of alternative practices. To protect ourselves against such risks, we engage in strategic inventory purchases during the year, negotiate long-term vendor supply agreements and monitor our inventory levels to ensure that we have the appropriate inventory on hand to meet our customers' requirements.
We generally recognize sales and gross margin on long-term contracts based on the percentage-of-completion method of accounting. This method allows for revenue recognition as our work progresses on a contract and requires that we estimate future revenues and costs over the life of a contract. Revenues are estimated based upon the original contract price, with consideration being given to exercised contract options, change orders and, in some cases, projected customer requirements. Contract costs may be incurred over a period of several years, and the estimation of these costs requires significant judgment based upon the acquired knowledge and experience of program managers, engineers, and financial professionals.
Estimated costs are based primarily on anticipated purchase contract terms, historical performance trends, business base and other economic projections. The complexity of certain programs as well as technical risks and the availability of materials and labor resources could affect our ability to accurately estimate future contract costs. Additional factors that could affect recognition of revenue under the percentage-of-completion method include:
Because of the significance of the judgments and estimation processes, it is likely that materially different sales and profit amounts could be recorded if we used different assumptions or if the underlying circumstances were to change. Changes in underlying assumptions, circumstances or estimates may adversely affect current and future financial performance. While we perform quarterly reviews of our long-term contracts to address and lessen the effects of these risks, there can be no assurance that we will not make material adjustments to underlying assumptions, circumstances or estimates relating to one or more long-term contracts that may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Our customers set demanding specifications for product performance, reliability and cost. Most of our government contracts and subcontracts provide for a predetermined, fixed price for the products we make regardless of the costs we incur. Therefore, we must absorb cost overruns, notwithstanding the difficulty of estimating all of the costs we will incur in performing these contracts and in projecting the ultimate level of sales that we may achieve. Our failure to anticipate technical problems, estimate costs accurately, integrate technical processes effectively or control costs during performance of a fixed-price contract may reduce the profitability of a fixed-price contract or cause a loss. While we believe that we have recorded adequate provisions in our financial statements for losses on our fixed-price contracts as required under generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"), there can be no assurance that our contract loss provisions will be adequate to cover all actual future losses. Therefore, we may incur losses on fixed-price contracts that we had expected to be profitable, or such contracts may be less profitable than expected.
Companies continue to consolidate their purchases of industrial products, resulting in their doing business with only a few major distributors or integrated suppliers, rather than a large number of vendors. Through our national accounts strategy, our Distribution segment has worked to develop the relationships necessary to be one of those major distributors. Competition relative to these types of arrangements is significant.
If we are not awarded additional national accounts in the future, or if existing national account agreements are not renewed, our sales volume could be negatively impacted which may result in lower gross margins and weaker operating results. Additionally, national accounts may require an increased level of customer service, such as investments in the form of opening new branches to meet our customers' needs. The cost and time associated with these activities could be significant, and if the relationship is not maintained, we ultimately may not be able to generate a return on these investments.
Our information technology systems provide critical data connectivity, information and services for internal and external users. These interactions include, but are not limited to, ordering and managing materials from suppliers, inventory management, shipping products to customers, processing transactions, summarizing and reporting results of operations, complying with regulatory, legal or tax requirements, and other processes necessary to manage the business. Our computer systems face the threat of unauthorized access, computer hackers, computer viruses, malicious code, organized cyber-attacks and other security problems and system disruptions.
We have put in place business continuity plans and security precautions for our critical systems, including a back-up data center. However, if our information technology systems are damaged, or cease to function properly due to any number of causes, such as catastrophic events, power outages or security breaches resulting in unauthorized access, and our business continuity plans and security precautions do not effectively compensate on a timely basis, we may suffer interruptions in our operations or the misappropriation of proprietary information, which may adversely impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We are currently implementing new ERP systems. ERP implementations are complex and time-consuming projects that involve substantial expenditures on system software and implementation activities that take several years. If we do not effectively implement the ERP systems or if the systems do not operate as intended, it could adversely affect our financial reporting systems and our ability to produce financial reports, the effectiveness of internal controls over financial reporting, and our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
As part of our business strategy, we have made, and expect to continue to make, acquisitions of businesses or investments in companies that offer complementary products, services and technologies. Such acquisitions or investments involve a number of risks, including:
These factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. In addition, the consideration paid for any future acquisitions could include our stock or require that we incur additional debt and contingent liabilities. As a result, future acquisitions could cause dilution of existing equity interests and earnings per share.
The Company has a 26% equity interest in Kineco-Kaman Composites - India Private Limited, a composites manufacturing joint venture located in Goa, India. The Company relies significantly on the services and skills of its joint venture partner to manage and conduct the local business operations of the joint venture and ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. If our joint venture partner fails to perform these functions adequately, it may adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Moreover, if our joint venture partner fails to honor its financial obligations to commit capital, equity or credit support to the joint venture as a result of financial or other difficulties or for any other reason, the joint venture may be unable to perform contracted services or deliver contracted products unless we provide the necessary capital, equity or credit support.
When we acquire a business, we record goodwill equal to the excess of the amount we pay for the business, including liabilities assumed, over the fair value of the tangible and identifiable intangible assets of the business we acquire. Goodwill and other intangible assets that have indefinite useful lives must be evaluated at least annually for impairment. The specific guidance for testing goodwill and other non-amortized intangible assets for impairment requires management to make certain estimates and assumptions when allocating goodwill to reporting units and determining the fair value of reporting unit net assets and liabilities, including, among other things, an assessment of market conditions, projected cash flows, investment rates, cost of capital and growth rates, which could significantly impact the reported value of goodwill and other intangible assets. Fair value is generally determined using a combination of the discounted cash flow, market multiple and market capitalization valuation approaches. Absent any impairment indicators, we generally perform our evaluations annually in the fourth quarter, using available forecast information. If at any time we determine an impairment has occurred, we are required to reflect the reduction in value as an expense within operating income, resulting in a reduction of earnings in the period such impairment is identified and a corresponding reduction in our net asset value.
Our future success will depend largely upon our ability to attract and retain highly skilled technical, operational and financial managers and marketing personnel. There is significant competition for such personnel in the aerospace and distribution industries. We try to ensure that we offer competitive compensation and benefits as well as opportunities for continued development, and we continually strive to recruit and train qualified personnel and retain key employees. There can be no assurance, however, that we will continue to be successful in attracting and retaining the personnel we require to develop new and enhanced products and to continue to grow and operate profitably.