DEFINITION of 'Unusual Item'

In financial accounting, unusual items are line items on an income statement which are reported separately from the normal income of the business due to their irregular nature. Unusual items can generally be categorized as one of three types: extraordinary items, discontinued operations and adjustments due to a change in accounting methodology. As a general guideline, unusual items can be thought of as being either strange one-off occurrences or accounting phenomena that are not likely to occur again in the future.

BREAKING DOWN 'Unusual Item'

Reporting unusual items separately is important to ensure the transparency of financial reporting. Unusual items are unlikely to recur, so separating these items allows users to better assess the continuing income generating capacity of the business. Investors are focused on the future returns that a company is able to generate, and often prefer to ignore unusual fluctuations which may obscure a company's true prospects.

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