Wednesday, January 19

Net Working Capital

Net working capital is a volatility calculation which steps a firm’s capability to repay its current liabilities with current shares. This dimension is significant to control, sellers, and general lenders since it reveals the company’s short-term liquidity in addition to control’s capacity to utilize its shares effectively.

Much like the working capital ratio, the net working capital formulation concentrates on existing liabilities such as trade loans, loans receivable, and seller notes that have to be paid back in the present calendar year. It just makes sense that the sellers and lenders would love to observe how many present shares, shares which are anticipated to be converted to cash in the present calendar year, are readily available to be responsible for obligations that will eventually become due in the forthcoming 12 months.

If a corporation may meet its current obligations with current shares, it will be forced to use it’s long-term shares, or income-producing shares, to pay off its current obligations. This can lead to decreased operations, sales, and may even be an indicator of more severe organizational and financial problems.


The net working capital formula is calculated by subtracting the current liabilities from the current shares. Here is what the basic equation looks like.

Net Working Capital Formula

Typical current assets that are included in the net working capital calculation are cash, accounts receivable, inventory, and short-term investments. The current liabilities section typically includes accounts payable, accrued expenses and taxes, customer deposits, and other trade debt.

Some people also choice to include the current portion of long-term debt in the liabilities section. This makes sense because although it stems from a long-term obligation, the current portion will have to be repaid in the current year. Thus, it’s appropriate to include it in with the other obligations that must be met in the next 12 months.


Let’s look at Paula’s Retail store as an example. Paula owns and operates a women’s clothing and apparel store that has the following current shares and liabilities:

  • Cash: $10,000
  • Accounts Receivable: $5,000
  • Inventory: $15,000
  • Accounts Payable: $7,500
  • Accrued Expenses: $2,500
  • Other Trade Debt: $5,000

Paula would use a net working capital calculator to compute the measurement like this:

Net Working Capital Calculator

Since Paula’s current shares exceed her current liabilities her WC is positive. This means that Paula can pay all of her current liabilities using only current shares. In other words, her store is very liquid and financially sound in the short-term. She can use this extra liquidity to grow the business or branch out into additional apparel niches.

If Paula’s liabilities exceeded her shares, her WC would be negative indicating that her short-term liquidity isn’t as large as it might be.


What is Net Working Capital Used For?

Obviously, a favorable web WC is far better than a negative one. A favorable calculation reveals investors and lenders that the organization can produce enough out of operations to cover its existing duties with present shares. A sizable positive measurement may also signify that the company has available funds to expand quickly without taking on fresh, additional investors or debt. It could fund its expansion through its present operations that are growing.

What Is Negative Net Working Capital?

A negative net working capital, on the other hand, reveals investors and creditors that the operations of the company aren’t producing enough to support the business’ present debts. If this adverse continues over the years, the company may be asked to market some of its long term, income-generating shares to cover present duties such as AP and deductions. Growing without needing new investors or debt could be from the issue and should the negative trend proceeds, internet WC could result in a company declaring bankruptcy.

Keep in mind that a negative amount is worse than a favorable person, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the company is going to go under. It’s just a sign that the short-term liquidity of the business isn’t good. There are various facets of what generates a healthful, sustainable business enterprise. By way of instance, a favorable WC may not really mean many when the corporation may convert its inventory or receivables to cash in a short period of time. Technically, it might have more current shares than current liabilities, but it can’t cover off its creditors in stock, therefore that it doesn’t matter. Conversely, a negative WC might not mean the company is in poor shape if it has access to large amounts of financing to meet short-term obligations such as a line of credit.

What is a more telling indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity is an increasing or decreasing trend in their net WC. A company with a negative net WC that has continual improvement year over year could be viewed as a more stable business than one with a positive net WC and a downward trend year over year.

Change in Net Working Capital

You might ask, “just how can a firm change its net operating capital with time? ” There are three main ways the liquidity of the company is improved year over year. First, the company can decrease its accounts receivable collection time. Second, it can reduce the amount of carrying inventory by sending back unmarketable goods to suppliers. Third, the company can negotiate with vendors and suppliers for longer accounts payable payment terms. Each one of these steps will help improve the short-term liquidity of the company and positively impact the analysis of net working capital.