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Debt Financing and Financial Flexibility Evidence from Pro-active Leverage Increases

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  • David J. Denis
  • Stephen B. Mckeon

Abstract

Firms that intentionally increase leverage through substantial debt issuances do so primarily as a response to operating needs rather than a desire to make a large equity payout. Subsequent debt reductions are neither rapid, nor the result of pro-active attempts to rebalance the firm’s capital structure towards a long-run target. Instead, the evolution of the firm’s leverage ratio depends primarily on whether or not the firm produces a financial surplus. In fact, firms that generate subsequent deficits tend to cover these deficits predominantly with more debt even though they exhibit leverage ratios that are well above estimated target levels. While many of our findings are difficult to reconcile with traditional capital structure models, they are broadly consistent with a capital structure theory in which financial flexibility, in the form of unused debt capacity, plays an important role in capital structure choices.

Suggested Citation

  • David J. Denis & Stephen B. Mckeon, 2010. "Debt Financing and Financial Flexibility Evidence from Pro-active Leverage Increases," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1243, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pur:prukra:1243
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    File URL: http://www.krannert.purdue.edu/programs/phd/Working-papers-series/2010/1243.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Huang, Rongbing & Ritter, Jay R., 2009. "Testing Theories of Capital Structure and Estimating the Speed of Adjustment," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(02), pages 237-271, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Amore, Mario Daniele & Minichilli, Alessandro & Corbetta, Guido, 2011. "How do managerial successions shape corporate financial policies in family firms?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 1016-1027, September.
    2. Yung, Kenneth & Li, DeQing Diane & Jian, Yi, 2015. "The value of corporate financial flexibility in emerging countries," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 32, pages 25-41.
    3. Nwaobia A. N. & Kwarbai J. D. & Jayeoba, O. O. & Ajibade A. T., 2016. "Financial Reporting Quality on Investors’ Decisions," International Journal of Economics and Financial Research, Academic Research Publishing Group, vol. 2(7), pages 140-147, 07-2016.
    4. Anastassiadis, Friederike & Liebe, Ulf & Mußhoff, Oliver, 2015. "Financial Flexibility in agricultural investment decisions: A discrete choice experiment," Agricultural Economics Review, Greek Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 16(1), January.
    5. Devos, Erik & Dhillon, Upinder & Jagannathan, Murali & Krishnamurthy, Srinivasan, 2012. "Why are firms unlevered?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 664-682.

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