Usefulness of comprehensive income reporting in Canada
In January 2005 the Canadian Accounting Standards Board (AcSB) issued three new accounting standards that require Canadian firms to mark-to-market certain financial assets and liabilities and recognize the holding gains and losses related to these items as other comprehensive income or as part of net income. The Board's objectives for issuing the new standards are (i) to harmonize Canadian GAAP with US and International GAAP, (ii) to enhance the transparency and usefulness of financial statements, and (iii) to keep pace with changes in accounting standards in other countries that are moving towards fair value accounting. This paper investigates empirically whether requiring Canadian companies to report comprehensive income and its components provides the securities market with incremental value-relevant information over the traditional historical-cost earnings approach. Previous empirical studies provide mixed evidence on the value relevance of other comprehensive income and its components. This mixed evidence may be attributed partially to the use of as if methodology to construct an ex-ante measure of other comprehensive income prior to the implementation of SFAS 130, which introduces measurement error. In contrast, this study uses actual data on other comprehensive income for a sample of Canadian firms cross-listed in the US in the period 1998-2003. We find evidence that available-for-sale and cash flow hedges components are significantly associated with price and market returns. We also find that aggregate comprehensive income is more strongly associated (in terms of explanatory power) with both stock price and returns compared to net income. However, we find that net income is a better predictor of future net income relative to comprehensive income. Our findings suggest that mandating all Canadian firms to adopt the new accounting standards is expected to enhance the usefulness of financial statements. Our findings, therefore, should be of interest to Canadian accounting policy makers as they provide ex-ante evidence on the potential usefulness of mandating firms to report comprehensive income and the components of other comprehensive income in their financial statements.
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