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In this paper we use data inconsistencies as an indicator of financial distress. Traditional models for insolvency prediction normally ignore inconsistent data, either by removing or replacing it. Instead of removing that information, we propose a new variable to capture it; using it together with traditional accounting variables (based on financial ratios) for the purpose of insolvency prediction.

Computational tests use three datasets based on the financial results of 2033 Brazilian Health Maintenance Organizations over 7 years (2001 to 2007). Sixteen classification methods were used to evaluate whether or not the new variable impacted solvency prediction. Tests show a statistically significant improvement in classification accuracy – average results improve 1.3 (p = 0.003) and 1.8 (p = 0.006) percentage points, for 10-fold and leave-one-out cross-validations respectively. In addition, the analysis of false positives and false negatives shows that the new variable reduces the potentially harmful misclassification of false negatives (i.e. financially distressed companies being classified as financially healthy) and also reduces the estimated overall error rate.

Regarding the extensibility of the results, even though this work uses data from Brazilian companies only, the calculation of the financial ratios variables, as well as the inconsistencies, could be extended to most companies worldwide subject to governmental accounting regulations aligned with the International Financial Reporting Standards. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.