Distressed Firm and Bankruptcy Prediction in an International Context: A Review and Empirical Analysis of Altman's Z-Score Model
47 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2014
Date Written: August 10, 2014
The purpose of this paper is firstly to review the literature on the efficacy and importance of the Altman Z-Score bankruptcy prediction model globally and its applications in finance and related areas. This review is based on an analysis of 33 scientific papers published from the year 2000 in leading financial and accounting journals. Secondly, we use a large international sample of firms to assess the classification performance of the model in bankruptcy and distressed firm prediction. In all, we analyze its performance on firms from 31 European and three non-European countries. This kind of comprehensive international analysis has not been presented thus far. Except for the U.S. and China, the firms in the sample are primarily private and cover non-financial companies across all industrial sectors. Thus, the version of the Z-Score model developed by Altman (1983) for private manufacturing and non-manufacturing firms (Z"-Score Model) is used in our testing. The literature review shows that results for Z-Score Models have been somewhat uneven in that in some studies the model has performed very well, whereas in others it has been outperformed by competing models. None of the reviewed studies is based on a comprehensive international comparison, which makes the results difficult to generalize. The analysis in this study shows that while a general international model works reasonably well, for most countries, with prediction accuracy levels (AUC) of about 75%, and exceptionally well for some (above 90%), the classification accuracy may be considerably improved with country-specific estimation especially with the use of additional variables. In some country models, the information provided by additional variables helps boost the classification accuracy to a higher level.
Keywords: Z-Score, bankruptcy, failure, default, financial distress
JEL Classification: G15, G32, G33
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