Optimal Capital Structure for a Property-Liability Insurer
Traditional finance studies have found that firm value is maximised at a mid-range level of leverage. This paper empirically tests the effect of leverage on firm value for property-liability insurers. We analysed an international data set of 96 insurers from 1992 to 2006 using two measures for firm value (price-to-earnings and market-to-book) and three measures of leverage (liabilities-to-equity, premiums-to-equity and surplus duration). We found that price-to-earnings at first increases with leverage, as measured by liabilities-to-equity and premiums-to-equity, but decreases past a certain point. Market-to-book exhibited a similar pattern for the premium-to-equity ratio but had a positive relationship with liabilities-to-equity and a negative relationship with surplus duration.
Volume (Year): 37 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
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