Target Capital Structure: Dynamics, Determinants and Speed of Adjustment

The corporate finance literature has focused on explaining the determinants of firms target capital structure and speed of adjustment using the well-established theories such as pecking order, signaling and trade-off theories. However, less attention has been paid to understanding the financing behavior of farm businesses using these theories. Unlike corporate firms with professional management, farm businesses are different in a way that family members participate in management, the owner is often the manager, the decision-making unit is small, and farms heavily depend on government subsidies to stabilize income. These distinctive setting in farm business may result in different patterns of capital structure decision-making. Hence, we evaluate the application of corporate finance theories in the context of understanding the relationship between target capital structure and profit in the farm business. We use a dynamic partial adjustment model to examine the determinants of capital structure and speed of adjustment, and detect capital structure theories with which the leverage ratio of farm business would comply. Our sample comprises a panel of 1500 Dutch farms over the years 2001 to 2015. We find strong evidence that farms prefer internal funds to external funds. Profit is negatively related to leverage, supporting the pecking order theory, which has often been rejected for large firms. Consistent with the signaling theory, we find that size is positively related to leverage. Farm asset structure, growth, investment, and earnings volatility significantly determine the target capital structure. An interesting finding is that farm leverage is highly persistent and that lagged leverage is the best predictor of subsequent leverage ratios. Also, farms appear to have target leverage ratio and are reported to adjust their leverage towards the optimal level. The speed of adjustment to the target capital ranges from 8.6% to 63%, and varies by farm size and farm. This evidence further confirms the existence of dynamics in the farm capital structure decision. This article provides insights to understanding the dynamic nature of farm capital structure and the applicability of capital structure theories in the farm business.

Issue Date:
Aug 28 2017
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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 Record created 2017-08-03, last modified 2018-01-23

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