Learn 100% online from anywhere in the world. Enroll today!

Extraordinary Item

An abnormal gain or loss that does not form a part of the ordinary business operations of a company

What is Extraordinary Item?

Extraordinary item is an accounting term that refers to an abnormal gain or loss that does not form a part of the ordinary business operations of a company, is infrequent in nature, and is unlikely to recur in the foreseeable future. Extraordinary items are disclosed separately in the financial statements of the company.

 

Extraordinary Item

 

Summary

  • Extraordinary item is an accounting term that refers to an abnormal gain or loss that does not form a part of the ordinary business operations of a company, is infrequent in nature, and is unlikely to recur in the foreseeable future.
  • Extraordinary gains and losses are often excluded by financial analysts while calculating the price-earnings ratio of a company to get a better sense of its profitability.
  • Today, GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) do not recognize the formal use of extraordinary items; it was eliminated in 2015 to reduce the cost and complexity faced by companies in making financial statements.

 

Features of an Extraordinary Item

 

1. Materiality

Transactions exceeding the material threshold of a company will qualify as an extraordinary item. Materiality depends upon the relative size of the company and the industry to which the company belongs.

For example, a royalty of $10,000 earned by a street vendor for selling his recipe to a restaurant chain will be classified as an extraordinary gain as it is a substantial amount relative to his/her annual profit.

However, the same amount received by a multinational restaurant chain will not be unusual; rather, it will constitute the ordinary business operations of the company.

 

2.  Rare/Unusual in nature

Transactions termed as extraordinary do not occur on a day-to-day basis. For example, an electrical appliance company discontinuing its line of refrigerators and shutting down the product’s manufacturing units is an event unlikely to recur in the future, and thus can be classified as an extraordinary item.

 

Purpose of an Extraordinary Item

Rare but significant events are treated as extraordinary items to prevent them from skewing a company’s regular earnings. Extraordinary items are often excluded by financial analysts while calculating the P/E ratio of a company to get a better sense of its profitability.

Companies disclose extraordinary items separately in their financial statements to give investors a more accurate picture of their ongoing expenses and incomes. At the same time, classifying a major loss as an extraordinary item may allow a company to depict a better picture of its financial performance.

To maintain standard accounting practices across companies, GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) specify the treatment of extraordinary items in the books of companies.

 

Exceptions

GAAP clearly specifies that gains or losses on the sale of an asset, lease of equipment to another company, foreign currency conversion, the effect of a labor strike, or abandonment of property must not be classified as extraordinary items.

 

Treatment of Extraordinary Items under GAAP and IFRS

In a GAAP update in 2015, the formal use of extraordinary items was eliminated by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to reduce the cost and complexity faced by companies in making financial statements.

Before 2015, extraordinary gains and losses (net of taxes) were disclosed separately on the P&L Statement after the income from day-to-day operations. Today, while companies still need to disclose any unusual transaction or event, they neither have to classify it as an extraordinary item nor evaluate their impact on income tax.

The IFRS also does not recognize extraordinary items and allows companies to disclose them under the usual sub-heads of revenue, finance costs, etc.

 

Related Readings

CFI is the official provider of the global Certified Banking & Credit Analyst (CBCA)™ certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To keep advancing your career, the additional resources below will be useful:

  • Accounting Policies
  • IFRS vs. US GAAP
  • Non-GAAP Earnings
  • Profit and Loss (P&L) Statement

Free Accounting Courses

Learn accounting fundamentals and how to read financial statements with CFI’s free online accounting classes.
These courses will give the confidence you need to perform world-class financial analyst work. Start now!

 

Building confidence in your accounting skills is easy with CFI courses! Enroll now for FREE to start advancing your career!