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Investigating the Performance of Alternative Default-Risk Models: Option-Based Versus Accounting-Based Approaches


  • Philip Gharghori

    (Department of Accounting and Finance, PO Box 11E, Monash University, VIC 3800.)

  • Howard Chan

    (Department of Finance, University of Melbourne, VIC 3010.)

  • Robert Faff

    (Department of Accounting and Finance, PO Box 11E, Monash University, VIC 3800.)


In this paper we evaluate the performance of three alternate default-risk models, seeking to find that measure which performs best, using a comprehensive sample drawn from the Australian equities market. The first two models are option-based models and are derived from Merton's (1974) insight that equity can be viewed as a call option on a firm's assets. In the first model, equity is modelled as a standard call option. In the second model, equity is modelled as a path-dependent barrier option. The third model is created using accounting ratios and is similar to Altman's (1968) Z-Score. To assess which of the models is superior, we consider variations of each model and then rely on prediction-oriented tests that focus on whether a firm subsequently defaults. Our results show that the option-based models clearly outperform their accounting ratio counterparts. Furthermore, our analysis suggests that the option-based models are very successful at ranking firms by default probability. It is noteworthy that the performances of the option-based models are difficult to distinguish from each other.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Gharghori & Howard Chan & Robert Faff, 2006. "Investigating the Performance of Alternative Default-Risk Models: Option-Based Versus Accounting-Based Approaches," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 31(2), pages 207-234, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ausman:v:31:y:2006:i:2:p:207-234
    DOI: 10.1177/031289620603100203

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    Cited by:

    1. Richardson, Grant & Taylor, Grantley & Lanis, Roman, 2015. "The impact of financial distress on corporate tax avoidance spanning the global financial crisis: Evidence from Australia," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 44-53.
    2. Chia-Ling Chao & Shwu-Min Horng, 2013. "Asset write-offs discretion and accruals management in Taiwan: the role of corporate governance," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 41-74, January.
    3. Abinzano, Isabel & Gonzalez-Urteaga, Ana & Muga, Luis & Sanchez, Santiago, 2020. "Performance of default-risk measures: the sample matters," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    4. Taein Kwon & Sanghyo Lee & Jaejun Kim, 2013. "The characteristics of changes in construction companies to become insolvent by size following macroeconomic fluctuations," E3 Journal of Business Management and Economics., E3 Journals, vol. 4(4), pages 082-092.
    5. Rose Kenney & Gianni La Cava & David Rodgers, 2016. "Why Do Companies Fail?," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2016-09, Reserve Bank of Australia.
    6. Maria H. Kim & Graham Partington, 2015. "Dynamic forecasts of financial distress of Australian firms," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 40(1), pages 135-160, February.
    7. Alexeev, Michael & Kim, Jounghyeon, 2012. "Bankruptcy and institutions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 676-678.
    8. Emma L. Schultz & David T. Tan & Kathleen D. Walsh, 2017. "Corporate governance and the probability of default," Accounting and Finance, Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 57, pages 235-253, April.
    9. Gharghori, Philip & Chan, Howard & Faff, Robert, 2009. "Default risk and equity returns: Australian evidence," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 580-593, November.
    10. Ballester, Laura & González-Urteaga, Ana & Martínez, Beatriz, 2020. "The role of internal corporate governance mechanisms on default risk: A systematic review for different institutional settings," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(C).
    11. Nirali Singh & Oriol Amat, 2020. "Detecting accounting fraud using quantitative techniques," Economics Working Papers 1738, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    12. Ali, Searat & Liu, Benjamin & Su, Jen Je, 2018. "Does corporate governance quality affect default risk? The role of growth opportunities and stock liquidity," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 422-448.
    13. Lanlan Liu & Dan Luo & Liang Han, 2019. "Default risk, state ownership and the cross-section of stock returns: evidence from China," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 53(4), pages 933-966, November.

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