Backwards Calculations, Part One: The Setup

XBRL US has made a great database available It’s in PostgreSQL  and they made it available as part of their Open Source XBRL competition (aka the XBRL Challenge) I’ve experimented a bit, and found that I can use their database with easy SQL queries, to answer some important XBRL questions, about all SEC-filed XBRL, and it’s lightning-fast! Today I wanted to post about one scenario in particular, called the “Backwards Calculation

My friend Phil Mennona (creator of great GAE apps like this ISO8601 converter or this report name checker) posed an interesting question about two us-gaap elements.

The us-gaap (2012) taxonomy contains us-gaap_ProfitLoss and us-gaap_NetIncomeLoss

The Documentation Label (aka “Definition”) of us-gaap_ProfitLoss (a credit element) is:

  • The consolidated profit or loss for the period, net of income taxes, including the portion attributable to the noncontrolling interest

The Documentation Label of us-gaap_NetIncomeLoss (a credit element) is:

  • The portion of profit or loss for the period, net of income taxes, which is attributable to the parent.

Both of these elements are available in us-gaap Presentation Report titled “124000 — Statement of Income (Including Gross Margin)“, (they also appear in other reports)
In this report, they are each grouped under Abstracts (like headers in a report) that reiterate their core difference; the former includes noncontrolling interest, and the latter does not.
More importantly, they are both available in the corresponding Calculation Report. In that report…

  • us-gaap_NetIncomeLoss (the parent’s income) is equal to…
  • us-gaap_ProfitLoss (the parent & noncontrolling interest’s income)…
  • minus us-gaap_NetIncomeLossAttributableToNoncontrollingInterest (the noncontrolling interest’s income)

(Note the noncontrolling interest income is a debit element. More on this later)

  1. So in accounting terms, the credit (Parent income) = credit (Parent + Noncontrolling Income) – debit (Noncontrolling income)
  2. In syntax terms, a calculationArc with the role summation-item should point to ProfitLoss from NetIncomeLoss (and another to NetIncomeLossAttributableToNoncontrollingInterest from NetIncomeLoss)
  3. And in laymen’s terms, Parent income =(Parent income + Noncontrolling income) – Noncontrolling income

This is sensible, and consistent with the accounting treatment and presentation as seen in the ASC, and explained in FASB 160 (More on this later.)

In fact, it’s so sensible one might call it “obvious”.

Except for the fact that the Element ID’s / names (in which “ProfitLoss” doesn’t give a clue whether it might include Noncontrolling Interest amounts)

All signs (Charlie might say, semantics, XBRL US might say, best practices), point to ProfitLoss is a component of NetIncomeLoss.

And yet, Phil finds filers (who must provide their own extended calculation reports) sometimes get this backwards! Their calculation reports imply that NetIncomeLoss is a component of ProfitLoss.

He’d seen it a couple times, but we wondered the easiest way to quantify and specifically identify these cases.

I thought it was a great challenge, and a good test of the value of XBRL.

Assuming that the filers genuinely “get stuff backwards” could XBRL help us identify those filers and correct them? (Or might we find that XBRL is too confusing to get right?!)
In my first followup post, I’ll describe the Query I used to get Phil some results.

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One thought on “Backwards Calculations, Part One: The Setup

  1. […] my previous post, I described the business […]

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