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Predicting Financial Distress and the Performance of Distressed Stocks

Journal of Investment Management (JOIM), Second Quarter 2011

Posted: 3 May 2011  

John Y. Campbell

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jens Hilscher

University of California, Davis

Jan Szilagyi

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 2, 2011

Abstract

In this paper, we consider the measurement and pricing of distress risk.We present a model of corporate failure in which accounting and market-based measures forecast the likelihood of future financial distress. Our best model is more accurate than leading alternative measures of corporate failure risk. We use our measure of financial distress to examine the performance of distressed stocks from 1981 to 2008. We find that distressed stocks have high stock return volatility and high market betas and that they tend to underperform safe stocks by more at times of high market volatility and risk aversion. However, investors in distressed stocks have not been rewarded for bearing these risks. Instead, distressed stocks have had very low returns, both relative to the market and after adjusting for their high risk. The underperformance of distressed stocks is present in all size and value quintiles. It is lower for stocks with low analyst coverage and institutional holdings, which suggests that information or arbitrage-related frictions may be partly responsible for the underperformance of distressed stocks.

Keywords: financial distress, distress risk, corporate failure, performance of distressed stocks

JEL Classification: G00

Suggested Citation

Campbell, John Y. and Hilscher, Jens and Szilagyi, Jan, Predicting Financial Distress and the Performance of Distressed Stocks (May 2, 2011). Journal of Investment Management (JOIM), Second Quarter 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1829622

John Y. Campbell (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Room 213
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HOME PAGE: http://scholar.harvard.edu/campbell

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jens Hilscher

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Jan Szilagyi

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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