Effect of firm characteristics on financial distress of non-financial firms listed at Nairobi Securities Exchange, Kenya
Gathecha, John Wangige
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Financial distress prediction is a global challenge. The study on financial distress has become more relevant and important because even large firms are failing under unforeseen circumstances causing economic and social problems. Managerial decisions determine firm’s direction, during business cycle process. Many companies have gone into bankruptcy despite using different prediction models. Despite their good rating, they are still prone to financial distress problems. In addition, many listed firms have issued profit warnings to their shareholders. The study established the causes of financial distress among listed companies in Kenyan market. The study used causal research design. The population of the study was 42 non-financial firms listed in NSE and covered a period between 2004 and 2012. The main objective of the study was to establish the effect of firm characteristics on financial distress among Kenya listed non-financial firms in Kenya. Logit regression model methodology was used in order to establish the relationship between variables. The study was based on observable reality (positivism). The study established research gaps on other researches done on financial distress. This helped in establishing the causes of financial distress in emerging markets specifically in Kenya. The study used secondary data which is quantitative in nature collected from NSE and CMA. The study adopted the Logit model to predict the financial distress of listed non-financial firms. Among the variables, Tobin Q (investment), leverage and systematic risk were significant as and they explained the financial distress of the companies listed at NSE. There was a negative non significant relationship between the dependable variable (financial distress) and indepedent variables (Leverage, size of the company, foreign ownership, BOD local, liquidity). From the output provided by the study’s panel Logit model, it’s clear that the factors that explain or lead to financial distress among firms are not restricted to a specific category of classification. However key firm characteristics among them efficiency, leverage, systematic risks, investment and liquidity were significant as they explained financial distress. More emphasis should be paid on the corporate governance factors as they are also key determinants on the performance. This is because many firms have been delisted from NSE due to other factors and not only due to financial performance. Financial ratios would give vital information to different stakeholders under normal operations. It is therefore recommended that practical applicability of bankruptcy prediction should be checked after some period of time as the economy changes.