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Understanding Differences Between Financial Distress And Bankruptcy

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Executive Summary

For the most part, research purporting to address the issue of financial distress has actually studied samples of bankrupt companies. Financial distress and bankruptcy are different. In contrast, this paper starts with a sample of companies that are financially distressed but not yet bankrupt. The sample was obtained by screening the Compustat industry database with a three-tiered identification system. The screen bifurcated companies into financially and non-financially distressed groups. A multi-tiered screen reduces the incidence of mistakenly identifying a non-distressed company as financially distressed. The paper then compares factors indicating the likelihood of future bankruptcies to those indicating future financial distress.

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