Corporate governance and the financial performance of selected Johannesburg Stock Exchange industries

Mans-Kemp, Nadia (2014-12)

Thesis (PhD)-- Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Mainstream investors are mostly interested in how they can benefit financially from a specific investment. Although this is the case, an increasing number of so-called responsible investors are also beginning to integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) aspects into their investment analysis and ownership practices. Corporate governance compliance is often the first level of ESG interest for these investors. Previous researchers considered the relationship between corporate governance and various financial performance measures, but reported inconclusive evidence on the nature of the relationship. Even though the three King Reports provide a well-developed framework for corporate governance compliance in South Africa, no comprehensive academic study has previously been conducted on the above-mentioned relationship in the South African context. The primary objective of the current study was therefore to investigate the relationship between corporate governance and the financial performance of selected JSE industries. The chosen study period (20022010) coincided with the launch of the King II Report and included the 20072009 global financial crisis. A combination of convenience and judgement sampling was used to draw a sample from six JSE industries. In an attempt to reduce survivorship bias, the sample included both listed firms and firms that had delisted during the study period. The complete sample comprised 227 companies (1 417 annual observations). When the study commenced, there was a lack of reliable, readily available ESG data for JSE-listed firms. An existing corporate governance research instrument was therefore refined to develop standardised data on the corporate governance compliance of the selected firms. An annual corporate governance score (CGS) was compiled for each of the firms by means of content analysis of its annual reports. Five financial performance variables were considered, namely return on assets (ROA), return on equity (ROE), earnings per share (EPS), total share return (TSR) and risk-adjusted abnormal return (alpha). The selection of these measures was based on previous research. The secondary financial data were sourced from the McGregor BFA database and the Bureau for Economic Research. The resulting panel dataset was analysed by means of various descriptive and inferential analyses. The descriptive statistics revealed an overall increasing corporate governance compliance trend. Both the disclosure and acceptability dimensions of the sample companies’ CGSs improved over time. The sample firms complied with approximately 68 per cent of the corporate governance criteria on average. The panel regression analysis showed a significant positive relationship between CGS and the accounting-based EPS ratio. Although this result is encouraging, it should be kept in mind that managers can have an influence on both these variables. On the other hand, a significant negative relationship was observed between the market-based TSR measure and CGS. The TSR measure is not adjusted for risk. Risk-adjusted abnormal returns were thus also estimated for four corporate governance-sorted portfolios. In a positive change of events, both the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) and the FamaFrench three-factor estimations showed positive alphas for the portfolio consisting of firms with the highest CGSs. These encouraging results were observed for the overall study period and the period before May 2008. Investors could thus have benefitted, in risk-adjusted terms, by investing in the sample firms with high corporate governance compliance. In the period after May 2008, the FamaFrench three-factor estimations revealed that the risk-adjusted market-based performance of almost all the sample firms were negatively affected by the global financial crisis of the late 2000s. The reported alphas for this period were, however, not significant. Based on these results, the researcher recommends that directors, managers and shareholders should consider the valuable opportunities associated with sound corporate governance compliance, rather than merely regarding it as a “tick-box” obligation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hoofstroombeleggers is veral geïnteresseerd in hoe hulle finansieel by ʼn spesifieke belegging kan baat. Alhoewel dit die geval is, begin ʼn toenemende aantal sogenaamde ‘verantwoordelike beleggers’ ook die omgewing, sosiale en korporatiewe bestuursaspekte (ESG-aspekte) in hulle beleggingsanalise en eienaarskapspraktyke integreer. Korporatiewe bestuursnakoming is dikwels die eerste vlak van ESG-belangstelling vir hierdie beleggers. Vorige navorsers het die verwantskap tussen korporatiewe bestuur en verskeie maatstawwe van finansiële prestasie ondersoek, maar het onbesliste resultate ten opsigte van die aard van die verhouding gerapporteer. Ongeag die drie King-verslae wat ʼn goed ontwikkelde raamwerk vir die nakoming van korporatiewe bestuur in Suid-Afrika verskaf, is daar tot dusver nog geen omvattende akademiese studie oor die bogenoemde verwantskap in Suid-Afrika gedoen nie. Die primêre doelstelling van hierdie studie was dus om die verwantskap tussen korporatiewe bestuur en die finansiële prestasie van JSE-genoteerde maatskappye te ondersoek. Die geselekteerde studie tydperk (2002-2010) het die wêreldwye finansiële krisis van 2007-2009 ingesluit en het saamgeval met die bekendstelling van die King II-verslag. ʼn Kombinasie van gerieflikheids- en oordeelkundige steekproefneming is gebruik om ʼn steekproef vanuit ses JSE-nywerhede te selekteer. In ʼn poging om oorlewingsydigheid te verminder, het dié steekproef sowel genoteerde maatskappye as maatskappye wat gedurende die studietydperk gedenoteer het, ingesluit. Die volledige steekproef het uit 227 maatskappye (1 417 jaarlikse waarnemings) bestaan. Met die aanvang van die studie was daar ʼn gebrek aan betroubare, geredelik beskikbare ESG-data vir JSE-genoteerde maatskappye. ʼn Bestaande navorsingsinstrument vir korporatiewe bestuursnakoming is dus verfyn om gestandaardiseerde data rakende die gekose maatskappye se korporatiewe bestuursnakoming te verkry. ʼn Jaarlikse korporatiewe bestuur telling (CGS) is deur middel van inhoudsanalise van die betrokke maatskappy se jaarstate vir elk van die maatskappye saamgestel. Vyf finansiële prestasie veranderlikes is oorweeg, naamlik ondernemingsrentabiliteit (ROA), rentabiliteit van ekwiteit (ROE), verdienste per aandeel (EPS), totale aandeelopbrengs (TSR) en risiko-aangepaste abnormale opbrengs (alfa). Die keuse van hierdie maatreëls was op vorige navorsing gegrond. Die sekondêre finansiële data was afkomstig van die McGregor BFA-databasis en die Buro vir Ekonomiese Ondersoek. Verskeie beskrywende en inferensiële analises is gebruik om die gevolglike paneeldatastel te ontleed. Die beskrywende statistiek het gedui op ʼn algeheel toenemende tendens in korporatiewe bestuursnakoming. Beide die bekendmaking- en aanvaarbaarheidsdimensies van die steekproef maatskappye se CGS’s het met verloop van tyd verbeter. Die steekproef maatskappye het gemiddeld aan ongeveer 68 persent van die korporatiewe bestuurskriteria voldoen. Die paneel regressie-analise het ʼn beduidende positiewe verwantskap tussen CGS en die rekeningkundig-gebaseerde EPS-verhoudingsgetal getoon. Alhoewel die resultaat bemoedigend is, moet daar in gedagte gehou word dat bestuurders ʼn invloed op beide hierdie veranderlikes kan hê. Aan die ander kant is ʼn beduidende negatiewe verband tussen die markgebaseerde TSR-maatstaf en CGS waargeneem. Die TSR-maatstaf is nie vir risiko aangepas nie. Risiko-aangepaste abnormale opbrengste is dus ook bepaal vir vier korporatiewe bestuursgesorteerde portefeuljes. In ʼn positiewe wending het beide die kapitaal-bate prysmodel (CAPM) en die FamaFrench drie-faktor beramings positiewe alfas vir die portefeulje bestaande uit maatskappye met die hoogste CGS’s getoon. Hierdie bemoedigende resultate is vir die volle studietydperk en die tydperk voor Mei 2008 gerapporteer. Beleggers kon dus, in risiko-aangepaste terme, baat gevind het deur in die steekproef maatskappye met hoë korporatiewe bestuursnakoming te belê. In die tydperk ná Mei 2008 het die Fama-French drie-faktor beramings aangetoon dat die risiko-aangepaste markgebaseerde prestasie van byna al die maatskappye in die steekproef negatief geraak is deur die wêreldwye finansiële krisis van die laat 2000’s. Die gerapporteerde alfas vir hierdie tydperk was egter nie beduidend nie. Na aanleiding van hierdie resultate beveel die navorser aan dat direkteure, bestuurders en aandeelhouers die waardevolle geleenthede wat met standvastige korporatiewe bestuursnakoming verband hou oorweeg eerder as om dit bloot as ʼn “afmerk”-verpligting te beskou.

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