Does the placement of a line item in the income statement matter to investors? The passage of Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS) No. 145 (Financial Accounting Standards Board [FASB] 2002) affords a quasi-experimental setting to answer this question, because pre-SFAS No. 145, gains/losses from early debt extinguishments were reported below the line, while post-SFAS No. 145, they were reported above the line. After controlling for other identified changes that occur during our sample period, we find that, pre-SFAS No. 145, the market does not respond to these gains/losses, whereas post-SFAS No. 145, it does. This suggests that the market response to gains/losses is associated with their placement in the income statement. Our findings contribute to the literature on the importance of income statement presentation by demonstrating that a line-item position in the income statement has important valuation implications.
JEL Classifications: G12; G14; M41.