Working capital

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Working capital (abbreviated WC) is a financial metric which represents operating liquidity available to a business, organisation or other entity, including governmental entities. Along with fixed assets such as plant and equipment, working capital is considered a part of operating capital. Gross working capital is equal to current assets. Working capital is calculated as current assets minus current liabilities. [1] If current assets are less than current liabilities, an entity has a working capital deficiency, also called a working capital deficit.

Accounting liquidity measure of the ability of a debtor to pay their debts as and when they fall due

In accounting, liquidity is a measure of the ability of a debtor to pay their debts as and when they fall due. It is usually expressed as a ratio or a percentage of current liabilities. Liquidity is the ability to pay short-term obligations.

Contents

A company can be endowed with assets and profitability but may fall short of liquidity if its assets cannot be readily converted into cash. Positive working capital is required to ensure that a firm is able to continue its operations and that it has sufficient funds to satisfy both maturing short-term debt and upcoming operational expenses. The management of working capital involves managing inventories, accounts receivable and payable, and cash.

Profit, in accounting, is an income distributed to the owner in a profitable market production process (business). Profit is a measure of profitability which is the owner’s major interest in income formation process of market production. There are several profit measures in common use.

Money market type of financial market

As money became a commodity, the money market became a component of the financial market for assets involved in short-term borrowing, lending, buying and selling with original maturities of one year or less. Trading in money markets is done over the counter and is wholesale.

Calculation

Working capital is the difference between current assets and current liabilities. It is not to be confused with trade working capital (the latter excluding cash).

The basic calculation of working capital is based on the entity’s gross current assets.

Inputs

Current assets and current liabilities include four accounts which are of special importance. These accounts represent the areas of the business where managers have the most direct impact:

Cash and cash equivalents

Cash and cash equivalents (CCE) are the most liquid current assets found on a business's balance sheet. Cash equivalents are short-term commitments "with temporarily idle cash and easily convertible into a known cash amount". An investment normally counts to be a cash equivalent when it has a short maturity period of 90 days or less, and can be included in the cash and cash equivalents balance from the date of acquisition when it carries an insignificant risk of changes in the asset value; with more than 90 days maturity, the asset is not considered as cash and cash equivalents. Equity investments mostly are excluded from cash equivalents, unless they are essentially cash equivalents, for instance, if the preferred shares acquired within a short maturity period and with specified recovery date.

Accounts receivable legally enforceable claim for payment to a business by its customer/ clients for goods supplied and/or services rendered in execution of the customer’s order

Accounts receivable is a legally enforceable claim for payment held by a business for goods supplied and/or services rendered that customers/clients have ordered but not paid for. These are generally in the form of invoices raised by a business and delivered to the customer for payment within an agreed time frame. Accounts receivable is shown in a balance sheet as an asset. It is one of a series of accounting transactions dealing with the billing of a customer for goods and services that the customer has ordered. These may be distinguished from notes receivable, which are debts created through formal legal instruments called promissory notes.

Inventory goods held for resale

Inventory or stock is the goods and materials that a business holds for the ultimate goal of resale.

The current portion of debt (payable within 12 months) is critical because it represents a short-term claim to current assets and is often secured by long-term assets. Common types of short-term debt are bank loans and lines of credit.

Debt deferred payment, or series of payments, that is owed in the future

Debt is when something, usually money, is owed by one party, the borrower or debtor, to a second party, the lender or creditor. Debt is a deferred payment, or series of payments, that is owed in the future, which is what differentiates it from an immediate purchase. The debt may be owed by sovereign state or country, local government, company, or an individual. Commercial debt is generally subject to contractual terms regarding the amount and timing of repayments of principal and interest. Loans, bonds, notes, and mortgages are all types of debt. The term can also be used metaphorically to cover moral obligations and other interactions not based on economic value. For example, in Western cultures, a person who has been helped by a second person is sometimes said to owe a "debt of gratitude" to the second person.

An increase in net working capital indicates that the business has either increased current assets (that it has increased its receivables or other current assets) or has decreased current liabilities—for example has paid off some short-term creditors, or a combination of both.

Working capital cycle

Definition

Working capital is computed as the sum of: Inventories (+) Trade receivable (+) Cash (-) Trade payables. Working capital cycle (WCC), also known as cash conversion cycle, is the amount of time it takes to turn the net current assets and current liabilities into cash. The longer the cycle is, the longer a business is tying up capital in its working capital without earning a return on it. Therefore, companies strive to reduce their working capital cycle by collecting receivables quicker or sometimes stretching accounts payable. Under certain conditions, minimizing working capital might adversely affect the companies' ability to realize profitability, e.g. when unforeseen hikes in demand exceed inventories, or when a shortfall in cash restricts the companies ability to acquire trade or production inputs.

Meaning

A positive working capital cycle balances incoming and outgoing payments to minimize net working capital and maximize free cash flow. For example, a company that pays its suppliers in 30 days but takes 60 days to collect its receivables has a working capital cycle of 30 days. This 30-day cycle usually needs to be funded through a bank operating line, and the interest on this financing is a carrying cost that reduces the company's profitability. Growing businesses require cash, and being able to free up cash by shortening the working capital cycle is the most inexpensive way to grow. Sophisticated buyers review closely a target's working capital cycle because it provides them with an idea of the management's effectiveness at managing their balance sheet and generating free cash flows.

In corporate finance, free cash flow (FCF) or free cash flow to firm (FCFF) is a way of looking at a business's cash flow to see what is available for distribution among all the securities holders of a corporate entity. This may be useful to parties such as equity holders, debt holders, preferred stock holders, and convertible security holders when they want to see how much cash can be extracted from a company without causing issues to its operations.

As an absolute rule of funders, each of them wants to see a positive working capital. Such situation gives them the possibility to think that your company has more than enough current assets to cover financial obligations. Though, the same can’t be said about the negative working capital. [2] A large number of funders believe that businesses can’t be sustainable with a negative working capital, which is a wrong way of thinking. In order to run a sustainable business with a negative working capital, it’s essential to understand some key components.

1. Approach your suppliers and persuade them to let you purchase the inventory on 1-2 month credit terms, but keep in mind that you must sell the purchased goods, to consumers, for money. 2. Effectively monitor your inventory management, make sure that it’s often refilled and with the help of your supplier, back up your warehouse.

Plus, big companies like McDonald’s, Amazon, Dell, General Electric and Wal-Mart are using negative working capital. [ citation needed ]

Working capital management

Decisions relating to working capital and short-term financing are referred to as working capital management. These involve managing the relationship between a firm's short-term assets and its short-term liabilities. The goal of working capital management is to ensure that the firm is able to continue its operations and that it has sufficient cash flow to satisfy both maturing short-term debt and upcoming operational expenses.

A managerial accounting strategy focusing on maintaining efficient levels of both components of working capital, current assets, and current liabilities, in respect to each other. Working capital management ensures a company has sufficient cash flow in order to meet its short-term debt obligations and operating expenses.

Decision criteria

By definition, working capital management entails short-term decisions—generally, relating to the next one-year period—which are "reversible". These decisions are therefore not taken on the same basis as capital-investment decisions (NPV or related, as above); rather, they will be based on cash flows, or profitability, or both.

Management of working capital

Guided by the above criteria, management will use a combination of policies and techniques for the management of working capital. The policies aim at managing the current assets (generally cash and cash equivalents, inventories and debtors) and the short-term financing, such that cash flows and returns are acceptable.

See also

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References

  1. Gross Working Capital vs Net working Capital
  2. "Negative Working Capital: Definition & Examples". Inevitable Steps. August 18, 2015. Retrieved February 21, 2016.