Comprehensive Income – Meaning, Purpose, And More

Comprehensive Income is the change in owner’s equity for a period excluding any contribution from the owner. In simple terms, it is total of all revenues, gains, expenses, and losses, as well as the unrealized gains and losses, resulting in a change in the equity or the net assets. Unrealized gains and losses can be those from foreign currency transaction or hedge/derivative financial instruments.

A company’s income statement reports just the profits and losses but may omit the change in the net assets due to the change of ownership, transfer of equity holdings and other factors. A comprehensive income, however, includes all such changes to the net assets along with the net income.

It usually appears within the stockholders’ equity section of the balance sheet or a financial report. A business can report such an income monthly, quarterly, or yearly.


The purpose of such an income is to report all operating and financial items that affect the interest of the owner. It offers a holistic view of the income that income statement fails to capture. We can say that the comprehensive income gives a clear view of an external user of the items affecting equity in a period.

It is an expansion of the net income, which shows only the revenues and expenses occurring during a period. On the other hand, the unrealized gains or losses that are yet to occur are nowhere found in regular statements. Such items do not appear on the income statement because there is a consensus that reporting unrealized numbers may inflate earnings.

However, any outsider won’t get a complete picture of the company if these numbers are missing.  Hence, to give a complete view of its activities, companies report comprehensive numbers.

A point to note is that no rules are forcing a company to show comprehensive numbers in the balance sheet. However, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) encourages companies to include such a section for the benefit of external users.

Comprehensive Income

Statement of Comprehensive Income

It reflects the adjustments to equity during a period. Or we can say, it offers a clear view of the company’s comprehensive income. Such a statement follows the same time period as the income statement and includes two main things.

First, the net income or loss appearing in the income statement, and second, the other comprehensive income (OCI). The sum total of both sections gives a comprehensive income. A point to note is that if a company does not have an item to show under OCI, then there is no need for such a statement.

Companies that have such items, must present the comprehensive statement immediately after the income statement. They may also combine it with the income statement.

Other Comprehensive Income (OCI)

Also known as comprehensive earnings, it includes all the items that do not come in the regular profit and loss statement. A company does not use these items for typical profit and loss calculations as these are not the result of the company’s regular business operations.

We can say that such an income represent the change in a company’s net assets due to non-owner sources, including revenues and expenses that the company is yet to realize. For example, a capital gain or loss from an investment not yet sold. After a company sells the investment, the loss or gain from it comes in the income statement.

Other examples of such type of income include foreign currency transactions adjustments, unrealized gains/losses on hedging derivatives, unrealized gains/losses on post-retirement benefit plans, available-for-sale securities unrealized gains and losses, Unrealized gains and losses from debt securities and more.

One adds the net income for a period to the retained earnings. While an accountant must add the amount of OCI to the accumulated other comprehensive income. Both retained earnings and accumulated other comprehensive income appear on separate lines within stockholders’ equity on the balance sheet.

A primary difference between the comprehensive and other comprehensive income is that the former includes the latter. Means, if we add the net income to the other comprehensive income, we will get the comprehensive income.

Comprehensive Income = Net Income + OCI

Such other type of income is very infrequent for a small business. Thus, it is more important for valuing large businesses and shows how hedging and overseas operations may impact financial performance.

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Sanjay Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".

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