, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 5-34

Assessing the Probability of Bankruptcy

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Abstract

We assess whether two popular accounting-based measures, Altman’s (1968) Z-Score and Ohlson’s (1980) O-Score, effectively summarize publicly-available information about the probability of bankruptcy. We compare the relative information content of these Scores to a market-based measure of the probability of bankruptcy that we develop based on the Black–Scholes–Merton option-pricing model, BSM-Prob. Our tests show that BSM-Prob provides significantly more information than either of the two accounting-based measures. This finding is robust to various modifications of Z-Score and O-Score, including updating the coefficients, making industry adjustments, and decomposing them into their lagged levels and changes. We recommend that researchers use BSM-Prob instead of Z-Score and O-Score in their studies and provide the SAS code to calculate BSM-Prob.