The nature and extent of relationship between capital structure and corporate performance of firms have attracted attention in the literature of finance. Capital structure involves the decision about the combination of the various sources of funds a firm uses to finance its operations and capital investments. These sources include the use of long-term debt finance called debt financing, as well as preferred stock and common stock also called equity financing. One of the most important goals of financial managers is to maximize shareholders wealth through determination of the best combination of financial resources for a company and maximization of the company‟s value by determining where to invest their resources.
Capital structure represents the major claims to a corporation‟s asset. This includes the different types of equities and liabilities (Riahi-Belkaoui, 1999). The debt-equity mix can take any of the following forms: 100% equity: 0% debt, 0% equity: 100% debt; and X% equity: Y% debt. From these three alternatives, the first option is that of the unlevered firm, that is, the firm shuns the advantage of leverage (if any). Option two is that of a firm that has no equity capital. This option may not actually be realistic or possible in the real life economic situation, because no provider of funds will invest money in a firm without equity capital. This partially explains the term “trading on equity”, that is, the equity element that is present in the firm‟s capital structure that encourages the debt providers to give their scarce resources to the business. The third Option is the most realistic one in that, it combined both a certain percentage of debt and equity in the capital structure and thus, the advantages of leverage (if any) is exploited. This mix of debt and equity has long been a subject of debate in finance literature concerning its determination, evaluation and accounting.
Corporate performance is the measure of how well a firm can use its assets from its primary business to generate revenues. Erasmus (2008) noted that corporate performance measures like profitability and liquidity among others provide a valuable tool to stake holders which aids in evaluating the past corporate performance and current position of a firm. Corporate performance evaluation are designed to provide answers to a broad range of important questions, some of which include whether the company has enough cash to meet all its obligations, is it generating sufficient volume of sales to justify recent investment. Capital structure is closely linked with corporate performance (Tian and Zeitun, 2007). Corporate performance can be measured by variables which involve productivity, profitability, growth or, even, customers‟ satisfaction. These measures are related among each other. Financial measurement is one of the tools which indicate the financial strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Those measurements are return on investment (ROI), residual income (RI), earning per share (EPS), dividend yield, return on assets (ROA),, growth in sales, return on equity (ROE),e.t.c (Stanford, 2009).
One of the main factors that could influence the firm's performance is capital structure. Since bankruptcy costs exist, deteriorating returns occur with further use of debt in order to get the benefits of tax deduction and interest. Therefore, there is an appropriate capital structure beyond which increases in bankruptcy costs are higher than the marginal tax-sheltering benefits associated with the additional substitution of debt for equity. Firms are willing to maximise their performance, and minimise their financing cost, by maintaining the appropriate capital structure or the optimal capital structure.
Previous studies on capital structure have used different proxies to measure capital structure. The measures commonly used in the literature in form of ratios include total debt to total assets, total debt to total equity, short term debt to total assets and long term debt to total assets. Total debt to total assets is the amount of debt used to finance firms‟ assets and other capital expenditure that can improve firms‟ performance. Thus, it is expected that increasing leverage components of a firm‟s capital structure may increase the level of efficiency and thereby increasing their performance. Company‟s managers who are able to identify the level of leverages as components of firms‟ capital structure are rewarded by reducing firm‟s cost of finance thereby maximizing the firm‟s revenue (Zeitun & Tian, 2007). Total debt to total assets measures the amount of the total funds provided by outsiders in relation to the total assets of the firm. It shows the extent of cover for debts of a company by total assets. It described the extent to which a business or investor is using the borrowed money. Generally, investors would prefer low ratio for all debts, because the lower the ratio the better the cushion against the creditors losses in the event of liquidation. Most firms use debt to finance their operation with the hope of improving their performance. By doing so, a company increases its leverage because it can invest in business operations without increasing its equity.
Total debt to total equity is also expected to have an influence on a firm‟s performance. Total debt to total equity assesses the extent to which a firm is using borrowed funds. It shows the extent to which a firm is using borrowed funds in relation to its equity. It indicates the solvency of the business and the extent of cover for external liabilities. It also measure of a company‟s financial leverage calculated by dividing its total liability, by stockholders equity, it indicates what proportion of equity and debt a company is using to finance its assets (Ojo, 2012). Total debt to total equity is a measure of how much firm uses equity and debt. Investors prefer the ratio to be lower; because the lower ratio the higher the level of firms financing that is being provided by shareholders and the larger the cushion (margin of protection) in the event of shrinking asset values or outright losses. From the creditor‟s point of view, it is possible that debt to equity helps in understanding business risk management strategies and how firms determine the likelihood of default associated with firms‟ corporate performance (Kurfi, 2003). Semiu and Collins (2011) see equity capital as including share-capital, share premium, reserves and surpluses (retained earnings).
Short term debt to total assets is another item in a firm‟s capital structure that affects its corporate performance. Short term debts to total assets affect the corporate performance of a firm either negatively or positively. Short-term debt to total asset measures the relative short-term debts to total assets of a firm are to meet it financial obligation over the accounting period. Some scholars argue that the shorter the debt the better the firm is in improving its performance.
Understanding the relationship between long term debt to total assets and performance of various sectors of an economy is important to all stakeholders. Long-term debt to total assets measures the relative weight of long-term debt to the capital structure (long-term financing) of the firm in long run. The level of long-term debt of a firm is also believed to be one of the forces expected to influence the performance of a firm. A firm that has a higher long-term debt as proposed by previous studies would have little resources to take care of some other objectives and vice versa (Kurfi, 2013).
As firm financial capital is an uncertain but critical resource for all firms, providers of finance are able to exert control over firms. Debt and equity are the major classes of capital structure, with debt holders and equity holders representing the two types of investors in a firm. Each of them is associated with different levels of control, benefits and risk. While debt holders exert lower control, they earn a fixed rate of return and are protected by contractual obligations with respect to their investment. Equity holders are the real owners of a firm, bearing most of the risk and correspondingly, have greater control over decisions (Aliu, 2010).
The use of debt in an organizations capital structure has both positive and negative effects on its corporate performance. Organizations that use an optimum amount of debt in their capital structure have enhanced firm value which is manifested in the form of increased sales, efficiency in production and low taxes. While firms with different cases of sub optimal use of debt in their capital structure usually suffer from a variety of financial ailments which Rajan and Zingales (1995) described as payment of high taxes, high proportions of accounts payable, large deficits in the firms cash flow and in some cases corporate dissolution. Accordingly Modigliani and Miller (1963) suggested that firms should incorporate more debt in their capital structure in order to maximize the firm‟s value which is manifested through high profits, increased share prices and efficiency in management.
The capital structure theory originated from the famous work of Modigliani and Miller (M & M) (1958). They argued that, under certain conditions, the choice between debt and equity does not affect a firm‟s value and hence, the capital structure decision is irrelevant; but in a world with tax-deductible interest payment, firm value and capital structure are positively related. M & M (1958) pointed out the direction that capital structure must take by showing under what conditions the capital structure is irrelevant. Titman (2001) lists some fundamental issues that make the M & M proposition hold as: no taxes, no transaction cost, no bankruptcy cost, perfect contracting assumptions and complete and perfect market assumption. The M & M presentation became a subject of considerable debate both in theoretical and empirical research. The work of M & M has been criticized by many scholars in view of the fact that in the real world situation, the main assumptions never hold. They argued that in a „non-perfect‟ world, there are factors influencing capital structure decision of a firm.
Since the presentation of M & M‟s irrelevance propositions, a lot of issues have been raised with respect to capital structure. Many researchers have attempted to establish whether their theory is realistic and capable of resolving basic financing decision problems regarding optimal capital structure for individual firm and the effect of an appropriate financing mix on firm performance and in what condition is the choice of capital structure relevant (Aliu 2010). Their studies however, have provided different opinion on the direction of their association. The mixed and inconclusive findings provided motivation for further studies in this area to determine whether capital structure has an influence on corporate performance of firms in different sectors of the economy.
The fact that manufacturing firms in Nigeria frequently use leverage to finance their operation through debt or equity or both, the extent to which capital structure affects their operation has been an issue of concern. It has been argued that the fastest trend through which a nation can achieve sustainable economic growth and development is neither by the level of its endowed material resources nor that of its vast human resources but technological innovation, enterprise development and industrial capacity. In the modern world, manufacturing sector is regarded as a basis for determining a nation economic efficiency.
Arising from the strategic importance of the manufacturing sector to an economy such as Nigeria‟s, it is important for investors and shareholders to understand the effect of capital structure on the performance of manufacturing firms. This is because capital structure decision on how to finance their assets by debt or by equity will affect relationship with the final result for any given period since it influences the returns and risks of shareholders and consequently affects the market value of the shares. In view of this, it becomes imperative to study the relationship between capital structure and corporate performance of manufacturing firms in Nigeria.
Statement of the Problem
There has been an ongoing debate on the issue of capital structure and corporate performance of firms. This controversy is further narrowed down to identifying which of the variables debated is most influential in predicting and determining the capital structure of manufacturing firms. The choice of optimal capital structure of a firm is difficult to determine. A firm has to issue various securities in a countless mixture to come across particular combinations that can maximize its overall value which means optimal capital structure. Optimal capital structure also means that with a minimum weighted-average cost of capital, the value of a firm is maximized. According to Rahul (1997), poor capital structure decisions may lead to a possible reduction in the value derived from strategic assets. Hence, the capability of a company in managing its financial policies is important if the firm is to realize gains from its specialized resources. The nature and extent of relationship between capital structure and corporate performance of firms have attracted the attention of many researchers. The studies, which are largely foreign based, have however revealed conflicting findings.
In Nigeria, most of the studies did not use other components on capital structure and corporate performance. The studies which include Bello and Onyesom (2005), Salawu (2007), Olokoyo (2012), Babalola (2012), Yinusa and Babalola (2012), Sabastian and Rapuluchukwu (2012) and Idode, Adeleke, Ogunlowo and Ashogbon (2014) have left a gap that need to be filled. For example, Salawu (2007), who studied the effect of capital structure on corporate performance of selected quoted companies in Nigeria between 1990 and 2004 concentrated on short term debt. His study did not extend to other forms of financing, thus the finding could only be used in the context of short term debt financing. This means even within the purview of debt financing; only the short term aspect of the debt was covered in his study. In reality, a study on capital structure is supposed to cover both types of debt financing.
Babalola (2012) who also studied the effect of optimal capital structure on firm‟s performance in Nigeria between 2000 to 2009 using samples of 10 firms, concentrated on total debt to total assets. His study excluded the aspect of total debt to equity, short term debt to total assets and long term debt to total assets financing despite the fact that both types of debt financing are used by the sampled firms. More so, his study and those of Bello and Onyesom (2005) and Olokoyo (2012) used Chi-square technique to analyze their data. Chi-square is considered deficient in terms of reflecting time variant and specific characteristic issues. Studies on capital structure and performance of firms are supposed to use parametric techniques that measure both time variant and specific characteristic issues.
Furthermore, the study of Yinusa and Babalola (2012) examined the impact of corporate governance on capital structure decision of ten (10) firms in the food and beverage sector during the period from 2000 to 2009. They used total debt to total assets ratio as proxy of capital structure. The study did not cover other components or types of debt financing such as total debt to total equity, short- term debt and long-term debt. Additionally, Sebastian and Rapuluchukwu (2012) that studied the impact of capital structure and liquidity on corporate returns of manufacturing firms between 2002 to 2006, focused on short-term debt, long-term debt and total debt without including total debt to total equity financing. The study failed to use total debt to total equity as variable of debt financing. Idode, Adeleke, Ogunlowore and Ashogbon (2014) in their study of the influence of capital structure on profitability of banks in Nigeria for the period of 2008 to 2012 covered both debt financing and equity financing. However, they ignored short-term debt and long-term debt which constitute other important forms of financing for manufacturing companies in Nigeria.
Owing to these identified gaps, a study that will cover the various forms of financing mix in order to address the following questions that remain unanswered is desirable: to what extent do total debt to total assets ratio, total debt to total equity ratio, and the ratios of short-term and long term debt to total assets affect the performance of manufacturing firms in Nigeria? This study attempts to provide answers to this fundamental question.
Objectives of theStudy
The overall objective of this study is to examine the impact of capital structure on the corporate performance of listed manufacturing firms in Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to:
To achieve the above mentioned objectives, the following hypotheses were formulated.
H01 Total debt to total assets ratio has no significant impact on corporate performance of listed manufacturing firms in Nigeria.
H02 Total debt to total equity ratio has no significant impact on corporate performance of listed manufacturing firms in Nigeria.
H03 Short-term debt to total assets ratio has no significant impact on corporate performance of listed manufacturing firms in Nigeria.
H04 Long-term debt to total assets ratio has no significant impact on corporate performance of listed manufacturing firms in Nigeria.
Scope of theStudy
The study is designed to examine the impact of capital structure and corporate performance of listed manufacturing firms in Nigeria. The study covers the period of six (6) years from 2009 to 2014. The study chooses the manufacturing firms as its domain because it covers the larger proportion of industry in Nigeria. The independent variables of the study are capital structure proxied by total debt to total assets, total debt to total equity, short-term debt to total assets and long-term debt to total assets, and the dependent variable is represented by corporate performance proxied by return on assets. The period of the study is considered appropriate because it coincides with the period within which major reforms took place in the manufacturing sector.
Significance of theStudy
The outcome of this study would contribute to the existing body of knowledge. Because, though there are a lot of studies on capital structure and corporate performance around the globe, there is dearth of evidence using data on manufacturing firms in Nigeria. The outcome of the study would therefore serve as a reference material for subsequent researchers and would provide a basis for further research in this area.
It is the hope that the result of this study will be beneficial to both internal and external parties (i.e managers in maximizing investors return, owners in making an informed decision, creditors in ascertaining credit worthiness of a firm, Government in making favorable financing policies etc) to improve on the GDP contribution by the manufacturing sector and also improve on employment rate once the sector is viable since the stake holders are interested in knowing the impact of such decisions on an organization performance.
Also, the government and its agencies will somehow benefit from this study because the study will highlight the need from its findings if necessary for the government to formulate more favorable financial and economic guidelines as the sector demands and this will sustain the operations of Nigerian Manufacturing firms, especially the potential firms yet to be quoted in the stock market and resultantly contributing to GDP of the nation which have been on the decline hitherto.
The results of this study would also be of benefit to managers, shareholders and creditors of manufacturing firms in Nigeria. Managers would be placed on a sound footing to understand the effect of various financing mix on the operations of their firms.
Shareholders would be able to make an informed decision with regard to their equity interest in relation to the debt financing options available to their firms, while creditors would be able to identify the firms that are financially strong enough to settle their claim as at when due.
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