As economic profits grow larger, so do economic losses at the other end of the distribution. The bottom 10 percent of companies destroy as much value as the top 10 percent create, and today’s bottom-decile companies have 1.5 times more economic loss, on average, than their counterparts of 20 years ago (Exhibit 1). That means for every company that creates economic value, there is another company that destroys economic value. Yet these value-destroying companies continue to survive, holding on to their resources for increasingly longer durations and continuing to attract capital. A growing number are turning into “zombie” companies, unable to generate enough cash flow even to sustain interest payments on their debts. The impact of these economic losses goes beyond these companies’ investors, managers, and workers: it drives down the returns for healthy companies that compete for the same resources or profits.
That is from a new McKinsey study, via Marty Manley.