The Journal of Finance

The Journal of Finance publishes leading research across all the major fields of finance. It is one of the most widely cited journals in academic finance, and in all of economics. Each of the six issues per year reaches over 8,000 academics, finance professionals, libraries, and government and financial institutions around the world. The journal is the official publication of The American Finance Association, the premier academic organization devoted to the study and promotion of knowledge about financial economics.

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Financial Distress and Corporate Performance

Published: July 1994   |   DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.1994.tb00086.x

TIM C. OPLER, SHERIDAN TITMAN

This study finds that highly leveraged firms lose substantial market share to their more conservatively financed competitors in industry downturns. Specifically, firms in the top leverage decile in industries that experience output contractions see their sales decline by 26 percent more than do firms in the bottom leverage decile. A similar decline takes place in the market value of equity. These findings are consistent with the view that the indirect costs of financial distress are significant and positive. Consistent with the theory that firms with specialized products are especially vulnerable to financial distress, we find that highly leveraged firms that engage in research and development suffer the most in economically distressed periods. We also find that the adverse consequences of leverage are more pronounced in concentrated industries.