Debt Covenant Violations, Firm Financial Distress, and Auditor Actions

50 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015

See all articles by Lori Shefchik Bhaskar

Lori Shefchik Bhaskar

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Accounting

Gopal V. Krishnan

Bentley University

Wei Yu

Hunter College - City University of New York

Date Written: September 8, 2015

Abstract

We conduct a comprehensive study on the associations between debt covenant violations (“violations”) and auditor actions for financially distressed and non-distressed firms. Our study is motivated by a lack of research on the consequences of violations resulting from auditors’ actions. We find that firms with violations have significantly higher audit fees, a greater likelihood of receiving a going concern opinion, and a greater likelihood of experiencing an auditor resignation. Importantly, the positive associations hold for all types of firms, including financially non-distressed firms. In fact, we find that, after controlling for other financial information, the relation between violations and an increased likelihood of a going concern opinion is stronger for non-distressed versus distressed firms. Our evidence is consistent with belief-revision research in auditing that finds auditors react more strongly to information that is inconsistent with their prior beliefs. This study provides further evidence on the indirect yet significant consequences of covenant violations on firms resulting from auditor actions.

Suggested Citation

Bhaskar, Lori Shefchik and Krishnan, Gopal and Yu, Wei, Debt Covenant Violations, Firm Financial Distress, and Auditor Actions (September 8, 2015). Contemporary Accounting Research, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2657597

Lori Shefchik Bhaskar

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Accounting ( email )

1309 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Gopal Krishnan (Contact Author)

Bentley University ( email )

175 Forest Street
Waltham, MA 02452
United States
781-891-2477 (Phone)

Wei Yu

Hunter College - City University of New York ( email )

695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
United States

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