The International Accounting Standards Board issued a revised version of its standard for the presentation of financial statements aimed at improving users' ability to analyze and compare the information in them.

The move is the first phase of a joint effort with the Financial Accounting Standards Board to review and harmonize the presentation of financial statements.

The changes require information in financial statements to be aggregated on the basis of shared characteristics and to introduce a statement of comprehensive income that will allow preparers to analyze changes in a company's equity resulting from transactions with owners separately from non-owners. The revised standard gives preparers the option of presenting income and expense items and components of other comprehensive income either in a single statement of comprehensive income with subtotals, or in two separate statements, with an income statement followed by a statement of comprehensive income.

Other revisions include changes in the titles of some of the financial statements to reflect their function, such as renaming "balance sheet" as "statement of financial position." The revised standard goes into effect for annual periods beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2009, but accountants can use it earlier if they wish.

"With the first phase of this project now completed, we look forward to addressing the more fundamental questions as part of a broad consultation that will start at the beginning of next year," said IASB Chairman Sir David Tweedie in a statement.

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