Impact of Liquidity Management on Profitability : A study of the adaption of liquidity strategies in a financial crisis

University essay from Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet; Umeå universitet/Handelshögskolan vid Umeå universitet

Abstract:

The ongoing financial crisis which has upset the financial markets of the world since the late summer of 2007 has not left Swedish corporations unaffected. Strategies which can be adapted within the firm to improve liquidity and cash flows concern the management of working capital and cash management, areas which are usually neglected in times of favourable business conditions.

In this study it is examined how companies have adjusted their liquidity strategies before the crisis started to spread worldwide and a year afterwards, in the beginning of the 2009 when economies are in the middle of the turbulence, still feeling the consequences of the financial crisis and not yet started to recover. Research problem consisted of two main questions:

Do active liquidity strategies have a positive effect on company’s profitability in times of financial turbulence/ economic turbulence?

 

Have the importance of key ratios in the measurement of liquidity changed during the time period?

The primary purpose of the study was to evaluate and compare the use and extent of the liquidity practices in two time points. Furthermore, the aim was to measure if the changing of liquidity strategy is related to the profitability measured by return on assets (ROA).

Sample consisted of companies listed on Stockholm Stock Exchange’s Small and Mid cap- lists, with some restrictions. The quantitative research strategy was employed and data was collected by using telephone interviews and financial ratios from financial statements. Hypotheses tested different aspects of cash management and liquidity practices. Statistical analysis was conducted by using regression analysis of the change scores and profitability.

Overall findings suggested that the adaptation of liquidity strategies do not have a significant impact on ROA. Only increased use of liquidity forecasting and short-term financing during financial crisis had a positive impact on ROA. Moreover, it was found that the importance of the key ratios monitoring companies liquidity have not changed between the studied time points. Working capital ratio is the most commonly used liquidity measurement and in addition the use of working capital and DIO metrics has increased most during the crisis.

More frequent monitoring and forecasting on liquidity levels and making more short-term investments can provide gains in profitability Based on the findings the adjustment of liquidity practices is beneficial for the companies, even though benefits are not always directly measurable in profitability. Furthermore, companies are recommended to maintain their focus on liquidity and working capital management in an economic downturn.

 

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