WORKING CAPITAL FORMULA: Definition & How To Calculate It

Working Capital Formula
ForaFinancial

Working capital is a metric that measures if a company or business is operating efficiently. It is a metric that shows a company’s financial efficiency and long-term viability. It also represents a company’s short-term liquidity. For instance, if a company’s working capital is positive, this means that the company may more easily weather long-term financial issues and invest solely in its future growth. Negative capital, on the other hand, will lead to bankruptcy in the long run. This post demonstrates the working capital formula every company must utilize for their business, which is also the net working capital, and how a working capital ratio impacts a company’s financial records.

Let’s dive into details…

What Is Working Capital?

A business determines how profitable it is, how much they’re able to expand, and how many assets and liabilities they have by knowing their working capital. The difference between a company’s current assets and current liabilities is known as working capital. It’s a financial metric that determines whether a company has enough liquid assets to pay its expenses within a year’s time. Surplus current assets can be utilized to fund a company’s daily operations when it has them. Working capital is heavily influenced by a company’s operating efficiency, credit policies, and payment procedures. 

This statistic is critical for operational funding and meeting short-term obligations. If a firm has enough working capital, it can keep paying its employees and suppliers, as well as fulfill other responsibilities such as taxes and interest payments, even if it runs into financial difficulties later on. A company that has a clean working capital record is also important. This is because it can fund its business growth and can easily qualify for loans if need be.  

A company’s finance team must be concerned with two things: having a clear picture of how much cash is available per time and working with the company in order to maintain adequate working capital to liabilities while allowing room for growth and emergencies.

Variables That Affect Working Capital

  • Current Asset: Involves cash, raw materials, inventories, account receivable, and marketable securities that a company owns and can turn into cash in a year. 
  • Current Liability: Involves payments or amounts payable in debts such as wages, utilities, taxes, and debts due in one year.

Advantages of Having a Working Capital

There are several advantages to having an efficient working capital. They are as follows. 

  • Many firms will agree that some days or months produce better sales than others, necessitating the requirement for working capital. It will help to balance revenue swings. In addition, the corporation may be able to make additional purchases in advance of the busy months while still meeting its obligations during the season when revenue is lower.
  • In a case where your client demands longer payment terms, having additional working capital ensures that your business is functioning efficiently until they are ready to make payments. 
  • Having extra or enough working capital can help you take special undertakings, such as capital investments.
  • If your company is rapidly expanding, the inventory and requirements for accounts receivable will necessitate a significant increase in working capital. You won’t be able to fund the business’s growth without it, resulting in limited expansion.

Positive and Negative Working Capital

Positive working capital is a good indicator of a company’s short-term financial viability since it indicates that it has sufficient liquid assets to cover short-term expenses and fund its own growth. A company with a working capital shortfall may need to borrow more funds from a bank or seek funding from investment bankers.

Negative working capital indicates that a company underutilized its assets, and a corporation may be facing a financial meltdown. A significant cash outflow, such as a quarterly dividend payment or a payment related to a lost lawsuit, can set it off. Even if a corporation has a significant amount of fixed assets, it will experience financial and operational difficulties if debts become due. This could result in increased loaning, delayed payments to creditors and suppliers, and reduced business creditworthiness.

What Is Working Capital Formula 

Once short-term liabilities have been cleared off, the working capital formula shows us what short-term liquid assets are available. It is an amount of a company’s short-term liquidity and is used in financial analysis, financial modeling, and cash flow management.

Working Capital Formula = Current Assets – Current Liabilities

A basic illustration of how to calculate your company’s working capital can help you better understand how it works. 

Example1:

The following working capital example is based on Alcoa Corp.’s balance sheet as of March 31, 2020, as reported in its 10-Q SEC filing. Figures in this illustration are in millions

Alcoa listed current assets of $3,333 million and current liabilities of $2,223 million. Its working capital was therefore $3,333 million – $2,223 million = $1,110 million. That represented an increase of $143 million compared with three months earlier, on Dec. 31, 2019, when the company had $967 million in working capital. 

Example 2:

A company sells $3,000 per unit of a product whose inventory costs $1,000. The working capital will definitely increase by $2,000 for every unit sold. 

This implies that raising a product’s price and selling more of it is one strategy to enhance working capital.

Working Capital And Net Working Capital 

Working capital and net working capital are interchangeable terms. Both terms still refer to the difference between current assets and current liabilities. Although some analysts define networking capital more selectively. 

Net working Capital Formula 

In calculating net working capital, it would exclude some factors like cash and debts

Net working capital = current assets (less cash) – current liabilities (less debt)

A more selective definition excludes most forms of assets, leaving only accounts receivable, payable, and inventory

Networking capital = accounts receivable + inventory – accounts payable

Working Capital Ratio Formula

The working capital ratio also known as current ratio indicates how many times a company’s current liabilities can be paid off using current assets. Put another way, the working capital ratio is a measure of a company’s liquidity.  

The formula involves simply dividing total current assets by total current liabilities to get the working capital ratio. It is a liquidity indicator that indicates the company’s capacity to meet its payment obligations as they become due.

A working capital ratio of less than one indicates that a company is likely to have financial issues, whereas a ratio of larger than one indicates that a corporation is more liquid since it has liquid assets that can potentially be turned into cash and will more than meet forthcoming short-term obligations.

Hence the working capital ratio formula is as follows:

Working capital ratio =  current assets / current liabilities

Difference Between Current Ratio and Quick Ratio

These two ratios are utilized by lenders and analysts to quantify a company’s liquidity and how able it is to meet short-term responsibilities. They can also be used to compare a company’s recent performance to previous quarters and to other firms, which can be useful for lenders and investors.

However, the quick ratio varies from the current ratio in that it only includes the company’s most liquid assets; those that can convert into cash rapidly. Cash and equivalents, marketable securities, and accounts receivable are the three types of these assets. While the current ratio covers all current assets, even those that are difficult to convert, like inventory. Therefore,  the quick ratio can be a more valid indicator of a company’s capacity to meet its obligations.

Changes to the Net Working Capital Formula

While the net working capital formula and the example above are the most common definitions of working capital, there are other alternatives.

Examples of Alternative Formulas

  • Current Assets – Cash – Current Liabilities (excludes cash)
  • Accounts Receivable + Inventory – Accounts Payable (mostly the core account that sums up working capital in the daily operation of the business)

How Often Does Working Capital Change?

So because working capital is influenced by a variety of factors such as large outgoing payments and seasonal sales volatility, working capital gets volatile often in most businesses. Hence the purpose of a balance sheet that records its value on a certain date.

Working Capital and the Balance Sheet

Balance sheets incorporate all the working capitals which includes the current assets and current liabilities. It is one of three basic financial reports that reflects a firm’s financial state, the other two are the income statement and cash flow statement.

The balance sheet depicts the company’s assets, liabilities, and equity during a specific period, such as the conclusion of a quarter or a whole year. The balance sheet lists all of a corporation’s short- and long-term assets and liabilities.

Starting with cash and cash equivalents, the balance sheet reports assets by category in order of viability. It also categorizes obligations, with current liabilities being listed first, followed by long-term liabilities.

Conclusion 

To avoid being set off, any fast-growing business must guarantee that its working capital is set aside or regularly monitored. This, along with a few other elements, decides how far or high your company can go. With enough working capital in place and even more, you will never run into unforeseen circumstances. hence every company looking to grow in some sort must constantly use the net working capital formula.

FAQs

What is the working capital ratio formula?

The formula involves simply dividing total current assets by total current liabilities to get the working capital ratio. It is a liquidity indicator that indicates the company’s capacity to meet its payment obligations as they become due.

What is working capital of a company?

Working capital has an impact on many components of your organization, including paying staff and vendors, keeping the lights on, and planning for long-term growth. In a nutshell, working capital is the cash on hand to cover immediate, short-term obligations.

What is negative working capital?

Negative working capital indicates that a company underutilizes its assets, and a corporation may be facing a financial meltdown. A significant cash outflow, such as a quarterly dividend payment or a payment that relates to a lost lawsuit can set it off

What is positive working capital?

Positive working capital is a good indicator of a company’s short-term financial viability; since it indicates that it has sufficient liquid assets to cover short-term expenses and fund its own growth.

  1. WORKING CAPITAL: Definition & Tips For Effective Management
  2. WHAT IS LIQUID NET WORTH: Definition & How to Calculate Liquid Net Worth
  3. Balance Sheet vs. Income Statement: Examples, Differences & Relationship
  4. Easy Working Capital Loans What You Should Know

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