Bankruptcy Prediction of Companies in the Retail-Apparel Industry Using Data Envelopment Analysis
International Series in Operations Research and Management Science
Since 2008, the world has been in recession. As daily news outlets report, this crisis has prompted many small businesses and large corporations to file for bankruptcy, which has grave global social implications. Despite government intervention and incentives to stimulate the economy that have put nations in hundreds of billions of dollars of debt, and have reduced the prime rates to almost zero, efforts to combat the increase in unemployment rate as well as the decrease in discretionary income
... have been troublesome. It is a vicious cycle: consumers are apprehensive of spending due to the instability of their jobs and ensuing personal financial problems; businesses are weary from the lack of revenue and are forced to tighten their operations which likely translates to layoffs; and so on. Cautious movement of cash flows are rooted in and influenced by the psychology of the players (stakeholders) of the game (society). Understandably, the complexity of this economic fallout is the subject of much attention. And while the markets have recovered much of the lost ground as of late, there is still great opportunity to learn about all the possible factors of this recession, in anticipation of and bracing for one more downturn before we emerge from this crisis. In fact, there is no time like today more appropriate for research in bankruptcy prediction because of its relevance, and in an age where documentation is highly encouraged and often mandated by law, the amount and accessibility of data is paramount -an academic's paradise! iii The main objective of this thesis was to develop a model supported by Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) to predict the likelihood of failure of US companies in the retail-apparel industry based on information available from annual reports -specifically from financial statements and their corresponding Notes, Management's Discussion and Analysis, and Auditor's Report. It was hypothesized that the inclusion of variables which reflect managerial decision-making and economic factors would enhance the predictive power of current mathematical models that consider financial data exclusively. With a unique and comprehensive dataset of 85 companies, new metrics based on different aspects of the annual reports were created then combined with a slacks-based measure of efficiency DEA model and modified layering classification technique to capture the multidimensional complexity of bankruptcy. This approach proved to be an effective prediction tool, separating companies with a high risk of bankruptcy from those that were healthy, with a reliable accuracy of 80% -an improvement over the widely-used Altman bankruptcy model having 70%, 58% and 50% accuracy when predicting cases today, from one year back and from two years back, respectively. It also provides a probability of bankruptcy based on a second order polynomial function in addition to targets for improvement, and was designed to be easily adapted for analysis of other industries. Finally, the contributions of this thesis benefit creditors with better risk assessment, owners with time to improve current operations as to avoid failure altogether, as well as investors with information on which healthy companies to invest in and which unhealthy companies to short.