Is the Risk of Bankruptcy a Systematic Risk?
Ilia D. Dichev
Emory University - Goizueta Business School
This study investigates whether the risk of bankruptcy is a systematic risk. Measures of bankruptcy risk are derived from Altman's (1968) and Ohlson's (1980) models of bankruptcy prediction. Systematic risk is proxied by subsequent realized returns. If the risk of bankruptcy is at least partly systematic, one would expect a positive association between present bankruptcy risk and subsequent realized returns. However, the results demonstrate that bankruptcy risk is not rewarded by higher returns for NYSE, AMEX, and NASDAQ firms. In fact, more insolvent firms earn significantly lower than average returns in the NASDAQ subsample. Additional tests suggest that a risk-based explanation is unlikely to fully account for the anomalous NASDAQ result. However, there is evidence that the security prices of the most insolvent NASDAQ firms do not fully reflect the negative implications of available information.
JEL Classification: G33, G12, G15working papers series
Date posted: August 19, 1996
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