Multivariate analysis and survival analysis with application to company failure
This thesis offers an explanation of the statistical modelling of corporate financial indicators in the context where the life of a company is terminated. Whilst it is natural for companies to fail or close down, an excess of failure causes a reduction in the activity of the economy as a whole. Therefore, studies on business failure identification leading to models which may provide early warnings of impending financial crisis may make some contribution to improving economic welfare. This study considers a number of bankruptcy prediction models such as multiple discriminant analysis and logit, and then introduces survival analysis as a means of modelling corporate failure. Then, with a data set of UK companies which failed, or were taken over, or were still operating when the information was collected, we provide estimates of failure probabilities as a function of survival time, and we specify the significance of financial characteristics which are covariates of survival. Three innovative statistical methods are introduced. First, a likelihood solution is provided to the problem of takeovers and mergers in order to incorporate such events into the dichotomous outcome of failure and survival. Second, we move away from the more conventional matched pairs sampling framework to one that reflects the prior probabilities of failure and construct a sample of observations which are randomly censored, using stratified sampling to reflect the structure of the group of failed companies. The third innovation concerns the specification of survival models, which relate the hazard function to the length of survival time and to a set of financial ratios as predictors. These models also provide estimates of the rate of failure and of the parameters of the survival function. The overall adequacy of these models has been assessed using residual analysis and it has been found that the Weibull regression model fitted the data better than other parametric models. The proportional hazard model also fitted the data adequately and appears to provide a promising approach to the prediction of financial distress. Finally, the empirical analysis reported in this thesis suggests that survival models have lower classification error than discriminant and logit models.