THE PROCESS OF IDENTIFYING NONRECURRING ITEMS




Careful analysis of past financial performance aimed at removing the effects of nonrecurring items is a more formidable task than one might suspect. This task would be fairly simple if (1) there was general agreement on just what constitutes a nonrecurring item and (2) if most nonrecurring items were prominently displayed on the face of the income statement. However, neither is the case. Some research suggests that fewer than one-fourth of nonrecurring items are likely to be found separately disclosed in the income statement. Providing guidance for locating the remaining three-fourths is a key goal of this chapter.

Identifying Nonrecurring Items: An Efficient Search Procedure

The search sequence outlined in the following discussion locates a high cumulative percentage of material nonrecurring items and does so in a cost-effective manner. Search cost, mainly in time spent by the financial analyst, is an important consideration. Time devoted to this task is not available for another and, therefore, there is an opportunity cost to consider. The discussion and guidance that follows are organized around this recommended search sequence (see Exhibit 2.3). Following only the first five steps in this search sequence is likely to locate almost 60% of all nonrecurring items.9 Continuing through steps six and seven will typically increase this location percentage. However, the 60% discovery rate is higher if the focus is only on material nonrecurring items. The nonrecurring items disclosed in other locations through steps 6 and 7 are fewer in number and normally less material than those initially found through the first five.



Frequently Asked Questions

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Ans: Defining nonrecurring items is difficult. Writers often begin with phrases like “unusual” or “infrequent in occurrence.” Donald Keiso and Jerry Weygandt in their popular intermediate accounting text use the term irregular to describe what most statement users would consider nonrecurring items. view more..
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Ans: A special committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) concluded the following about earnings and the needs of those who use financial statements: Users want information about the portion of a company’s reported earnings that is stable or recurring and that provides a basis for estimating sustainable earnings. view more..
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Ans: Financial ratios are useful not only to assess the past or present condition of an enterprise, but also to reliably predict its future solvency or bankruptcy. This type of information is of critical importance to present and potential creditors and investors. There are several different methods of analysis for obtaining this predictive information. view more..
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Ans: Careful analysis of past financial performance aimed at removing the effects of nonrecurring items is a more formidable task than one might suspect. This task would be fairly simple if (1) there was general agreement on just what constitutes a nonrecurring item and (2) if most nonrecurring items were prominently displayed on the face of the income statement. view more..
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Ans: An examination of the income statement, the first step in the search sequence, requires an understanding of the design and content of contemporary income statements. This knowledge will aid in the location and analysis of nonrecurring view more..
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Ans: After the income statement, the operating activities section of the statement of cash flows is an excellent secondary source to use in locating nonrecurring items (step 2 in the search sequence in Exhibit 2.3). The diagnostic value of this section of the statement of cash flows results from two factors. First, gains and losses on the sale of investments and fixed assets must be removed from net income in arriving at cash flow from operating activities. Second, noncash items of revenue or gain and expense or loss must also be removed from net income. view more..
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Ans: The carrying values of inventories maintained under the LIFO method are sometimes significantly understated in relationship to their replacement cost. For public companies, the difference between the LIFO carrying value and replacement cost (frequently approximated by FIFO) is a required disclosure under SEC regulations. An example of a substantial difference between LIFO and current replacement value is found in a summary of the inventory disclosures of Handy and Harman Inc. in Exhibit 2.17. view more..
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Ans: Income tax notes are among the more challenging of the disclosures found in annual reports. They can, however, be a rich source of information on nonrecurring items. Fortunately, our emphasis on the persistence of earnings requires a focus on a single key schedule found in the standard income tax note. The goal is simply to identify nonrecurring tax increases and decreases in this schedule. view more..
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Ans: An “other income (expense), net,” or equivalent line item is commonly found in both the single- and multistep income statement. In the case of the multistep format, the composition of other income and expenses is sometimes detailed on the face of the income statement. In both the multi- and single-step formats, the most typical presentation is a single line item with a supporting note. Even though a note detailing the contents of other income and expense may exist, companies typically do not specify its location. Other income and expense notes tend to be listed close to the end of the notes to the financial statements view more..
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Ans: Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A) is an annual and a quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission reporting requirement. Provisions of this regulation have a direct bearing on the goal of locating nonrecurring items. As part of the MD&A, the SEC requires registrants to: view more..
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Ans: Typically, most material nonrecurring items will have been located by proceeding through the first six steps of the search sequence in Exhibit 2.3. However, some additional nonrecurring items may be located in other notes. Nonrecurring items can surface in virtually any note to the financial statements. We will now discuss three selected notes that frequently contain other nonrecurring items: notes on foreign exchange, restructuring, and quarterly and segment financial data. Recall that inventory, income tax, and other income and expense notes have already been discussed in steps 3 to 5. view more..
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Ans: The last section in the AK Steel Holdings income statement in Exhibit 2.9 is devoted to the reporting of other comprehensive income. This is a relatively new feature of the income statement and was introduced with the issuance by the FASB of SFAS No. 130, Reporting Comprehensive Income.44 The goal of the standard is to expand the concept of income to included selected items of nonrecurring revenue, gain, expense and loss. Under the new standard, traditional net income is combined with a new component, “other comprehensive income,” to produce a new bottom line, “comprehensive income.” view more..
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Ans: The work to this point has laid out important background but is not complete. Still required is a device to assist in summarizing information discovered on nonrecurring items so that new measures of sustainable earnings can be developed. We devote the balance of this chapter to introducing a worksheet specially designed to summarize nonrecurring items and illustrating its development and interpretation in a case study. view more..
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Ans: The sustainable earnings worksheet is shown in Exhibit 2.26. Detailed instructions on completing the worksheet follow: 1. Net income or loss is recorded on the top line of the worksheet. 2. All identified items of nonrecurring expense or loss, which were included in the income statement on a pretax basis, are recorded on the “add” lines provided. view more..
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Ans: The sustainable earnings base provides earnings information from which the distorting effects of nonrecurring items have been removed. Some analysts refer to such revised numbers as representing “core” or “underlying” earnings. Sustainable is used here in the sense that earnings devoid of nonrecurring items of revenue, gain, expense, and loss are much more likely to be maintained in the future, other things equal. Base implies that sustainable earnings provide the most reliable foundation or starting point for projections of future results. The more reliable such forecasts become, the less the likelihood that earnings surprises will result. Again, Phillips Petroleum captures the essence of nonrecurring items in the following: view more..
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Ans: This case example of using the SEB worksheet is based on the 1997 annual report of Baker Hughes Inc. and its results for 1995 to 1997. The income statement, statement of cash flows, management’s discussion and analysis of results of operations (MD&A), and selected notes are in Exhibits 2.27 through 2.34. Further, to reinforce the objective of efficiency in financial analysis, we adhere to the search sequence outlined in Exhibit 2.3. view more..
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Ans: The nonrecurring items located in the Baker Hughes annual report are enumerated in the completed SEB worksheet in Exhibit 2.35. Each of the nonrecurring items is recorded on the SEB worksheet. When an item is disclosed for the first, second, third, or fourth time, it is designated by a corresponding superscript view more..
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Ans: The construction of an SEB worksheet always requires a judgment call. One could, of course, avoid all materiality judgments by simply recording all nonrecurring items without regard to their materiality. However, the classification of items as nonrecurring, as well as on occasion their measurement, calls for varying degrees of judgment. Some examples of Baker Hughes items that required the exercise of judgment, either in terms of classification or measurement, are discussed next. view more..




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