In an abrupt reversal, accounting rule makers have decided that no expenses stemming from the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon will be classified as extraordinary.
But the new rule, expected to be issued today, will encourage companies to tell investors just how badly the company was hurt by the attack and by the resulting business changes. Companies that wish to do so will also be able to leave out such losses when calculating the pro-forma earnings that they emphasize in their own earnings forecasts and in their news releases.
Before the reversal, the Emerging Issues Task Force of the Financial Accounting Standards Board had tentatively decided on a policy that would allow companies considerable latitude to classify losses as extraordinary and thus more likely to be ignored by investors.
But a meeting on Friday, at which members of the task force were expected to adopt the earlier decision, turned into an extended debate, said Timothy S. Lucas, the research director of the accounting board and the nonvoting chairman of the task force.
The task force, which has 12 voting members -- 9 from accounting firms and 3 from major companies -- had several 6-to-6 tie votes during the day before it finally reached the decision that no expenses could be listed as extraordinary.
''The E.I.T.F. believes that the events were so extraordinary that they were pervasive,'' said David Zion, an accounting analyst for Bear Stearns. ''Nearly every company has some financial impact.'' Trying to draw a line between those that could be labeled extraordinary and those that could not would be impractical and not very helpful to investors, he said.
Mr. Lucas pointed out that even with the airlines, which clearly were harmed, it would be hard to separate the losses that could be attributed to the attacks. The preliminary decision had been to treat the loss of aircraft, and damages paid to victims, as extraordinary.
But, Mr. Lucas noted, ''revenues they are not earning'' are very important to the airlines, both during the period when all flights were grounded and since then as a result of the decline in passenger traffic. Yet there is no way to classify as extraordinary the decline in revenue, he said.