Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Business Administration

Advisor's Name

Arun J. Prakash

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Chun-Hao Chang

Advisor's Name

Suchismita Mishra

Advisor's Name

Dev Prasad

Date of Defense

6-21-2012

Abstract

Bankruptcy prediction has been a fruitful area of research. Univariate analysis and discriminant analysis were the first methodologies used. While they perform relatively well at correctly classifying bankrupt and nonbankrupt firms, their predictive ability has come into question over time. Univariate analysis lacks the big picture that financial distress entails. Multivariate discriminant analysis requires stringent assumptions that are violated when dealing with accounting ratios and market variables. This has led to the use of more complex models such as neural networks.

While the accuracy of the predictions has improved with the use of more technical models, there is still an important point missing. Accounting ratios are the usual discriminating variables used in bankruptcy prediction. However, accounting ratios are backward-looking variables. At best, they are a current snapshot of the firm. Market variables are forward-looking variables. They are determined by discounting future outcomes. Microstructure variables, such as the bid-ask spread, also contain important information. Insiders are privy to more information that the retail investor, so if any financial distress is looming, the insiders should know before the general public.

Therefore, any model in bankruptcy prediction should include market and microstructure variables. That is the focus of this dissertation. The traditional models and the newer, more technical models were tested and compared to the previous literature by employing accounting ratios, market variables, and microstructure variables. Our findings suggest that the more technical models are preferable, and that a mix of accounting and market variables are best at correctly classifying and predicting bankrupt firms. Multi-layer perceptron appears to be the most accurate model following the results. The set of best discriminating variables includes price, standard deviation of price, the bid-ask spread, net income to sale, working capital to total assets, and current liabilities to total assets.

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