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NEHA BHOLA
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working capital - November 10th, 2007

here is material on working capital.





Working Capital

The number one reason most people look at a balance sheet is to find out a company's working capital (or "current") position. It reveals more about the financial condition of a business than almost any other calculation. It tells you what would be left if a company raised all of its short term resources, and used them to pay off its short term liabilities. The more working capital, the less financial strain a company experiences. By studying a company's position, you can clearly see if it has the resources necessary to expand internally or if it will have to turn to a bank and take on debt.

Working Capital is the easiest of all the balance sheet calculations. Here's the formula:

Current Assets - Current Liabilities = Working Capital

One of the main advantages of looking at the working capital position is being able to foresee any financial difficulties that may arise. Even a business that has billions of dollars in fixed assets will quickly find itself in bankruptcy court if it can't pay its monthly bills. Under the best circumstances, poor working capital leads to financial pressure on a company, increased borrowing, and late payments to creditor - all of which result in a lower credit rating. A lower credit rating means banks charge a higher interest rate, which can cost a corporation a lot of money over time.

Companies that have high inventory turns and do business on a cash basis (such as a grocery store) need very little working capital. These types of businesses raise money every time they open their doors, then turn around and plow that money back into inventory to increase sales. Since cash is generated so quickly, managements can simply stock pile the proceeds from their daily sales for a short period of time if a financial crisis arises. Since cash can be raised so quickly, there is no need to have a large amount of working capital available.

A company that makes heavy machinery is a completely different story. Because these types of businesses are selling expensive items on a long-term payment basis, they can't raise cash as quickly. Since the inventory on their balance sheet is normally ordered months in advance, it can rarely be sold fast enough to raise money for short-term financial crises (by the time it is sold, it may be too late). It's easy to see why companies such as this must keep enough working capital on hand to get through any unforeseen difficulties.

Working Capital per Dollar of Sales

To find the approximate amount of working capital a company should have, you should look at "working capital per dollar of sales." In other words, you are going to have to compare the amount of working capital on the balance sheet to the total sales (which is found on the income statement - not the balance sheet). A business that sells a lot of low-cost items, and cycles through its inventory rapidly (a grocery store) may only need 10-15% of working capital per dollar of sales. A manufacturer of heavy machinery and high-priced items with a slower inventory turn may require 20-25% working capital per dollar of sales. A company such as Coca Cola would probably fall somewhere between the two.

Here's the formula for Working Capital per Dollar of Sales

Working Capital
-------------------------(divided by)---------------------------
Total Sales (Found on the Income Statement)

Let's look at an example:

Goodrich, Inc. (Symbol GR)
Goodrich provides systems for aircraft as well as manufacturers heavy-duty engines.
Working Capital: $933,000,000 (current assets - current liabilities)
Total Sales (found on the income statement) = $4,363,800,000

Let's plug the numbers into the formula:

Working Capital = $933,000,000
-------------------------(divided by)---------------------------
Total Sales (Found on the Income Statement) = $4,363,800,000

The answer for Goodrich is .2138, or 21.38%. As a manufacturer of heavy duty machinery, GR falls within the 20-25% working capital per dollar of sales range. This is good.
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