IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Firm Profitability: Mean-Reverting or Random-Walk Behavior?

  • Giorgio Canarella

    (California State University, Los Angeles and University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

  • Stephen M. Miller

    (University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Connecticut)

  • Mahmoud M. Nourayi

    (Loyola Marymount University)

We analyze the stochastic properties of three measures of profitability, return on assets (ROA), return on equity (ROE), and return on investment (ROI), using a balanced panel of US firms during the period 2001-2010. We employ a panel unit-root approach, which assists in identifying competitive outcomes versus situations that require regulatory intervention to achieve more competitive outcomes. Based upon conventional panel unit-root tests, we find substantial evidence supporting mean-reversion, which, in turn, lends support to the long-standing “competitive environment” hypothesis originally set forward by Mueller (1976). These results, however, prove contaminated by the assumption of cross-section independence. After controlling for cross-section dependence, we find that profitability evolves as a non-stationary process in some sectors in the US economy. Our findings, especially taken as a whole, remain fairly robust to various assumptions regarding the underlying data generation process.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: Full text (revised version)
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
File Function: Full text (original version)
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2012-05.

in new window

Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision: Oct 2012
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economics and Business, in press.
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2012-05
Note: Stephen M. Miller is corresponding author
Contact details of provider: Postal:
University of Connecticut 365 Fairfield Way, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063

Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Edith Madsen, 2010. "Unit root inference in panel data models where the time-series dimension is fixed: a comparison of different tests," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 13(1), pages 63-94, 02.
  2. Adelina Gschwandtner, 2012. "Evolution Of Profit Persistence In The Usa: Evidence From Three Periods," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 80(2), pages 172-209, 03.
  3. Marshall, Alfred, 1890. "The Principles of Economics," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number marshall1890.
  4. Collins, Norman R & Preston, Lee E, 1969. "Price-Cost Margins and Industry Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 271-86, August.
  5. B. Burcin Yurtoglu, 2004. "Persistence of firm-level profitability in Turkey," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(6), pages 615-625.
  6. T. S. Breusch & A. R. Pagan, 1980. "The Lagrange Multiplier Test and its Applications to Model Specification in Econometrics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 239-253.
  7. Adelina Gschwandtner, 2004. "Evolution of Profit Persistence in the US: Evidence from four 20-years periods," Vienna Economics Papers 0410, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  8. Leon-Ledesma, Miguel & Peter McAdam, 2003. "Unemployment, Hysterisis and Transition," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 137, Royal Economic Society.
  9. Jesus Crespo Cuaresma & Adelina Gschwandtner, 2006. "The competitive environment hypothesis revisited: non-linearity, nonstationarity and profit persistence," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 465-472.
  10. Alper Aslan & Kemal Koksal & Oguz Ocal, 2011. "Competitive Environment Hypothesis in Turkish Banking System," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 1(2), pages 74-77, June.
  11. Jan Bentzen & Erik Madsen & Valdemar Smith & Mogens Dilling-Hansen, 2005. "Persistence in Corporate Performance? Empirical Evidence from Panel Unit Root Tests," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 217-230, 06.
  12. Pesaran, M. Hashem, 2004. "General Diagnostic Tests for Cross Section Dependence in Panels," IZA Discussion Papers 1240, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. John Abowd & John Haltiwanger & Ron Jarmin & Julia Lane & Paul Lengermann & Kristin McCue & Kevin McKinney & Kristin Sandusky, 2002. "The Relation among Human Capital, Productivity and Market Value: Building Up from Micro Evidence," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  14. Schwalbach, Joachim & Gra[beta]hoff, Ulrike & Mahmood, Talat, 1989. "The dynamics of corporate profits," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1625-1639, October.
  15. Mueller, Dennis C, 1977. "The Persistence of Profits above the Norm," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 44(176), pages 369-80, November.
  16. Goddard, John & Liu, Hong & Molyneux, Philip & Wilson, John O.S., 2011. "The persistence of bank profit," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 2881-2890, November.
  17. David G. Mcmillan & Mark E. Wohar, 2011. "Profit Persistence Revisited: The Case Of The Uk," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 79(3), pages 510-527, 06.
  18. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2005. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521848053, September.
  19. Gordon, Robert J, 1989. "Hysteresis in History: Was There Ever a Phillips Curve?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 220-25, May.
  20. Mueller,Dennis C., 2009. "Profits in the Long Run," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521101592, September.
  21. Andreas Stephan & Andriy Tsapin, 2008. "Persistence and Determinants of Firm Profit in Emerging Markets," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 54(4), pages 231-254.
  22. Rafael E. De Hoyos & Vasilis Sarafidis, 2006. "Testing for cross-sectional dependence in panel-data models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(4), pages 482-496, December.
  23. A. M. Spence, 1981. "The Learning Curve and Competition," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(1), pages 49-70, Spring.
  24. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
  25. John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane & James Spletzer, 2000. "Wages, Productivity, and the Dynamic Interaction of Businesses and Workers," NBER Working Papers 7994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Adelina Gschwandtner, 2005. "Profit persistence in the 'very' long run: evidence from survivors and exiters," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(7), pages 793-806.
  27. Pesaran, M.H., 2003. "A Simple Panel Unit Root Test in the Presence of Cross Section Dependence," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0346, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  28. John Goddard & Phil Molyneux & John O. S. Wilson, 2004. "The profitability of european banks: a cross-sectional and dynamic panel analysis," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 72(3), pages 363-381, 06.
  29. Glen, Jack & Lee, Kevin & Singh, Ajit, 2001. "Persistence of profitability and competition in emerging markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 247-253, August.
  30. Kamerschen, David R, 1969. "The Determination of Profit Rates in "Oligopolistic Industries."," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(3), pages 293-301, July.
  31. Strauss, Jack & Yigit, Taner, 2003. "Shortfalls of panel unit root testing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 309-313, December.
  32. Pasaran, M.H. & Im, K.S. & Shin, Y., 1995. "Testing for Unit Roots in Heterogeneous Panels," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9526, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  33. Odagiri, Hiroyuki & Yamawaki, Hideki, 1986. "A study of company profit-rate time series : Japan and the United States," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-23, March.
  34. Piotr Lewandowski, 2006. "PESCADF: Stata module to perform Pesaran's CADF panel unit root test in presence of cross section dependence," Statistical Software Components S456732, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 08 Oct 2007.
  35. P. Geroski, 1998. "An Applied Econometrician's View of Large Company Performance," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 13(3), pages 271-294, June.
  36. Jesús Crespo Cuaresma & Adelina Gschwandtner, 2005. "Tracing the dynamics of competition: Evidence from company profits," Vienna Economics Papers 0504, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  37. Kristian Jönsson, 2005. "Cross-sectional Dependency and Size Distortion in a Small-sample Homogeneous Panel Data Unit Root Test," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 67(3), pages 369-392, 06.
  38. Waring, Geoffrey F, 1996. "Industry Differences in the Persistence of Firm-Specific Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(5), pages 1253-65, December.
  39. Rod Cross, 2000. "Hysteresis and Emu," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(4), pages 367-379, November.
  40. Pérez-Alonso Alicia & Di Sanzo Silvestro, 2010. "Unemployment and Hysteresis: A Nonlinear Unobserved Components Approach," Studies in Nonlinear Dynamics & Econometrics, De Gruyter, vol. 15(1), pages 1-29, December.
  41. M. Hashem Pesaran & Badi H. Baltagi, 2007. "Heterogeneity and cross section dependence in panel data models: theory and applications introduction," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 229-232.
  42. Luintel, Kul B, 2001. "Heterogeneous Panel Unit Root Tests and Purchasing Power Parity," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 69(0), pages 42-56, Supplemen.
  43. Dechow, Patricia M. & Hutton, Amy P. & Sloan, Richard G., 1999. "An empirical assessment of the residual income valuation model1," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1-3), pages 1-34, January.
  44. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
  45. Goddard, J. A. & Wilson, J. O. S., 1999. "The persistence of profit: a new empirical interpretation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 663-687, July.
  46. Schohl, Frank, 1990. "Persistence of profits in the long run: A critical extension of some recent findings," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 385-404, September.
  47. Adelina Gschwandtner & Michael Hauser, 2008. "Modelling profit series: nonstationarity and long memory," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(11), pages 1475-1482.
  48. Harris, Richard D. F. & Tzavalis, Elias, 1999. "Inference for unit roots in dynamic panels where the time dimension is fixed," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 201-226, August.
  49. Julia I. Lane & John C. Haltiwanger & James Spletzer, 1999. "Productivity Differences across Employers: The Roles of Employer Size, Age, and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 94-98, May.
  50. Juan Carlos Bou & Albert Satorra, 2003. "The persistence of abnormal returns at industry and firm levels," Economics Working Papers 729, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  51. Geoffrey Whittington & Mark Tippett, 1999. "The Components of Accounting Ratios as Co-integrated Variables," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(9-10), pages 1245-1273.
  52. Foreman, R. Dean, 2003. "A logistic analysis of bankruptcy within the US local telecommunications industry," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 135-166.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2012-05. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark McConnel)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.