What is comprehensive income?

For example, losses sustained as a result of an earthquake may qualify as an extraordinary item for many enterprises. However, claims from policyholders arising from an earthquake do not qualify as an extraordinary item for an insurance enterprise that insures against such risks. Also, if a company runs overseas operations, the other income section can contribute to the understanding of the dynamics of the company’s foreign operations and assess the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations. Finally, it helps determine the extent to which a company’s future pension liabilities may affect unrealized profits.

PwC refers to the US member firm or one of its subsidiaries or affiliates, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors. It provides a comprehensive view for company management and investors of a company’s profitability picture.

What is Comprehensive Income?

Some examples of other comprehensive income are foreign currency hedge gains and losses, cash flow hedge gains and losses, and unrealized gains and losses for securities that are available for sale. A statement of comprehensive income, which covers the same time period as the income statement, reflects net income as well as other comprehensive income, the latter being unrealized gains and losses on assets that aren’t shown on the income statement. The statement of comprehensive income gives company management and investors a fuller, more accurate idea of income. For example, net income does not take into account any unrealized gains or losses because they haven’t actually occurred yet. This means that any market adjustments for available for sale securities are not reflected in the net income number on the income statement.

The statement of comprehensive income is a financial statement that summarizes both standard net income and other comprehensive income (OCI). Whereas, other comprehensive income consists of all unrealized gains and losses on assets that are not reflected in the income statement. It is a more robust document that often is used by large corporations with investments in multiple countries.

What is the statement of comprehensive income?

The other income information cannot uncover the company’s day-to-day operations, but it can provide insight on other essential items. For example, an analyst can obtain insight regarding the management of the company’s investments. The reported investments’ unrealized gains/losses may forecast the company’s actual, realized gains or losses on its investments. Once the transaction has been realized (e.g., the company’s investments have been sold), it must be removed from the company’s balance sheet and recognized as a realized gain/loss on the income statement. The nature and amount of each extraordinary item are separately disclosed so that users of financial statements can evaluate the relative significance of such items and their effect on the operating results.

  • FASB and many investors believe that reporting unrealized numbers unnecessarily increase earnings and make companies look more profitable than they are.
  • It is similar to retained earnings, which is impacted by net income, except it includes those items that are excluded from net income.
  • Net income is arrived at by subtracting cost of goods sold, general expenses, taxes, and interest from total revenue.
  • Prior period items are generally infrequent in nature and can be distinguished from changes in accounting estimates.
  • Therefore, an event or transaction may be extraordinary for one enterprise but not so for another enterprise because of the differences between their respective ordinary activities.

As it is clear from Table 4.3, the difference between net income as presently accepted and earnings is not a fundamental one. In accounting literature, accurate definitions of and relationships between earnings, comprehensive income and present generally accepted concept of net income are not found. On the other hand, it’s also important to understand limitations of the statement of comprehensive income. The comprehensive income classification presents a more complete view of a firm’s income than can be found in a traditional income statement. Other comprehensive income is not listed with net income, instead, it appears listed in its own section, separate from the regular income statement and often presented immediately below it.


The purpose of comprehensive income is to show all operating and financial events that affect non-owners’ interests in a business. As well as net income, comprehensive income includes unrealized gains and losses on available-for-sale investments. It also includes cash flow hedges, which can change in value depending on the securities’ market value, and debt securities transferred from ‘available for sale’ to ‘held to maturity’, which may also incur unrealized gains or losses. Gains or losses can also be incurred from foreign currency translation adjustments and in pensions and/or post-retirement benefit plans.

Transactions classified as operating by one firm may be classified as non-operating by another firm. Furthermore, items classified as non-operating in one year may be classified as operating by the same firm in a subsequent year. This, in itself, leads to inconsistencies in making comparison among different firms or over several periods for the same firm. The charge or credit arising on the outcome of a contingency, which at the time of occurrence could not be estimated accurately, does not constitute the correction of an error but a change in estimate.

Definition of Comprehensive Income

An example of such an item would be the write off of a very large receivable from a regular trade customer. (6) Un-realised changes in the value of assets and liabilities, when these are recognised by the accounting model in use. (2) Exchange transactions and other transfers between enterprise and other entities that are not its owners. Understanding the drivers of a company’s daily operations is going to be the most important consideration for a financial analyst, but looking at OCI can uncover other potentially major items that impact a company’s bottom line.

Also, this statement introduces complexity to the financial reporting package that can be annoying for the accounting department producing it, and provides information that some users have complained is excessively esoteric to be overly useful. Errors in the preparation of the financial statements of one or more prior periods may be discovered in the current period. Errors may occur as a result of mathematical mistakes, mistakes in applying accounting policies, misinterpretation of facts, or oversight.

When preparing financial statements, it is important to realize that other comprehensive income cannot be reported on the income statement as dictated by accounting standards. Other comprehensive income is accumulated and then reported under shareholder’s equity on the balance sheet. The key difference between a statement of comprehensive income and an income statement is that the former includes a list of what’s known as ‘other comprehensive income’. Your other comprehensive income includes all of the unrealised gains and losses your business has made during the period your statement looks at. The term ‘prior period items’, refers only to income or expenses which arise in the current period as a result of errors or omissions in the preparation of the financial statements of one or more prior periods.

comprehensive income

Two such measurements are what is a suspense account and other comprehensive income. Though they sound similar, there are certain differences, primarily in the level of detail they provide into a company’s financial situation. In financial accounting, corporate income can be broken down in a multitude of ways, and firms have some latitude on how and when to recognize and report their earnings. To compensate for this, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) requires companies to use universal measurements to help provide investors and analysts with clear, easily accessible information on a company’s financial standing. The statement of comprehensive income may report amounts per month, quarter, or year.

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