Bankruptcy Costs and the Financial Leasing Decision
The theory of financial leasing views financial leases as substitutes for secured debt. Empirical studies have reported a high positive correlation between lease ratios and debt ratios and that lessors earn higher rates of return than lenders. These results contradict traditional leasing theory. They are explained in this paper by recognizing the role bankruptcy costs play in the lease/borrow decision and the nature of the assets to be acquired by a firm. Leasing is shown to involve lower bankruptcy costs than borrowing. Our empirical analysis shows that lessee firms have lower retained earnings relative to total assets, higher growth rates, lower coverage ratios, higher debt ratios, and higher operating risk than non-lessee firms. Lessee firms also have significantly lower Altman Z-scores, a measure of bankruptcy potential. Overall, our results indicate that as bankruptcy potential increases, lease financing becomes an increasingly attractive financing option. We also find evidence to support an industry clientele effect in financial leasing.
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Volume (Year): 23 (1994)
Issue (Month): 2 (Summer)
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