Quality of Net Income vs. Total Comprehensive Income in the Context of IAS/IFRS Regulation

Bahloul Jaweher, Ben Arab Mounira


Research in accounting has thus far attempted to provide fair and useful financial performance measures for a wide range of users. Academics and professionals have also established income as the key performance measures in making economic decisions. The purpose of this study is to investigate the quality of total comprehensive income (TCI) relative to net income (NI), prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IAS/IFRS). Using a data set covering 2,273 firms from 22 countries in Europe, Asia and Australia between 2006 and 2010, we provided evidence that net income always dominates comprehensive income as a valuation metric. The findings indicated that NI is more value relevant than TCI in predicting the future operating cash flows and income. In addition, NI is more persistent and timely, and explains the actual operating cash flows more precise than TCI. Accruals linked to NI have also better quality than those related to TCI. However, we found that TCI is less smoothing and more conservative than NI. These results do not support the claim that income measured on a comprehensive basis is a better measure of firm performance than NI. These results raise the questions about the usefulness of mandating TCI in IAS/IFRS regulation. Our findings, therefore, should be of interest to IASB, as they provide evidence of fewer quality of the TCI. Perhaps it is time for the IASB to reconsider other comprehensive income components and focus on items included in other comprehensive income to improve the quality of the TCI metric. These results also provide evidence of net income as a primary decision-relevant metric. 

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International Journal of Finance and Accounting Studies

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