Days Working Capital (DWC)

What is Days Working Capital (DWC)?

Days working capital is a very important performance indicator of efficient working capital management. Lower the days of working capital, better is the efficiency of working capital management and vice versa. What exactly does it express? Days of working capital expresses how much of net operating working capital is invested for achieving one dollar of daily sales. From opposite angle, we can also express it as how many days a company takes to convert its working capital into revenue. Let’s try to understand it in details.

Days of Working Capital Formula

Let us see and understand the formula of expressing the days of working capital as below:

Days of Working Capital (Operating Current Assets – Operating Current Liabilities) * 365
= —————————————————–
Annual Sales


Days of Working Capital = Net Working Capital / Average Daily Sales


Operating Current Assets

 Operating Current Liabilities

  • Accounts Receivable
  • Inventory
  • Cash and Marketable Securities
  • Other Short-Term Assets (Within 1 Year)

Why is the term operating used with the Current Assets? It is because we will not include non-operating current assets which are not contributing directly to the core operations of the company like extra funds kept in expectation of an acquisition opportunity, funds reserved for payment in case the company loses lawsuit etc.

Days of Working Capital

Days of Working Capital Calculation and Example

Now, let’s understand how to calculate days of working capital with an example.

Take balance sheet excerpts of ABC Ltd which has annual revenue of $37,500,000.

Current Assets Amount (in $) Current Liabilities Amount (in $)
Cash $90,000 Accounts Payable $45,000
Marketable Securities $15,000 Accrued Expenses $30,000
Accounts Receivable $60,000 Notes Payable $7,500
Inventories $75,000
Total Current Assets $240,000 Total Current Liabilities $82,500

Net Operating Working Capital = $240,000 – $82,500 = $157,500

Average Daily Sales = 37,500,000/365 = 102,740


Days Working Capital = Net Operating Working Capital / Average Daily Sales

Days Working Capital = 157,500 / 102,740 = 1.53

Interpretation of Days Working Capital

Now we see that result of DWC in the above example is 1.53. We can interpret or analyze the figure in two ways – ‘Days to Convert a $ of WC into Sales’ and ‘Dollars of WC invested per Dollar of Daily Sales”

‘Days to Convert a $ of WC into Sales’

We can consider 1.53 as 1.53 days ABC company takes to convert the investment in working capital into sales. As per the example, by investing an amount of $157,500 in a day, the company is achieving a sales of $102,740. Note that the sales are less than the investment made. In other words, the company takes 1.53 days to achieve sales value equal to $157,500 i.e. investment in working capital.

The idea for a company should be to minimize this figure to as less as possible. Assume with a lot of hard work on achieving working capital efficiencies, the company reaches DWC of 1. This would mean with the same amount of investment in working capital, i.e. $157,500, the company’s per day sales would be $157,500. What have we achieved by doing this? We have achieved more sales with same working capital. Keeping other things constant for the time being it will lead to more EBIT due to increase in sales but the interest cost will remain same. So, the EBT will improve due to savings on interest cost.

‘Dollars of WC invested per Dollar of Daily Sales”

In the same fashion, if we consider 1.53 dollar of WC is invested for achieving a dollar of sales. For improved efficiencies in working capital management, there are 3 ways:

  1. Increase sales without an increase in working capital
  2. Reduce working capital without reducing Sales
  3. Do Both

By targeting above, the DWC of 1.53 will, say, reduce to 1 dollar. This means that for getting sales of 1 dollar, we are investing only 1 dollar in working capital which was 1.53 dollar earlier. Same effect on EBT will be there as we explained above.

How to take Actionable Steps by Analyzing Days Working Capital?

We can express the Days of Working Capital like following as well. It is because ultimately in this ratio, we are only comparing the short term current assets and liabilities with sales of the company.

Days Sales Outstanding 0.58 Days Accounts Payable Outstanding 0.44
Days Inventory Outstanding 0.73 Days Short Term Liabilities Outstanding 0.37
Days Cash and Marketable Security Outstanding 1.02
Days Current Assets Outstanding (A) 2.34 Days Current Liabilities Outstanding (B) 0.80

DWC = Days Current Assets Outstanding – Days Current Liabilities Outstanding

=> DWC = Days Sales Outstanding + Days Inventory Outstanding + Days Cash and Equivalents Outstanding – Days Accounts Payable Outstanding – Days Short Term Liabilities Outstanding

=> DWC = 0.58 + 0.73 + 1.02 – 0.44 – 0.37 = 1.53

With this representation, the objective becomes clearer for the management. We need to reduce the side of current assets and increase the side of current liabilities for improving the overall DWC.

We can see that a lot of money is stuck in cash and marketable securities (1.02 contributed to DWC with an amount of $105,000). The finance manager can always take this area into priority and analyze if the amount of cash and marketable securities can reduce without negatively impacting the smooth working capital cycle.

Importance of Days of Working Capital

Look at the following images (excerpts from the book Financial Management, Theory and Practice, 13e, by Brigham and Ehrhardt.) It states about DWC of US companies. We can see that the DWC of companies varies from 51 days to -154 days.

Working Capital Importance

These wide variations in DWC, you may dedicate to the different operating environment of different industries. But there are huge variations within industries also. Just see below:

Working Capital Importance 2

This is why we say that this metric is very important and the management of a company should work on improving the same. There are techniques like Just in Time, EOQ, etc which can be followed and implemented and you can notice an improvement in DWC.

Analysis with Days of Working Capital

Investors use this ratio of days of working capital to analyze or make a comparison between different companies of the same sector. It should be noted that the DWC as seen in the example would differ with industries. DWC will make sense only if analyzed and compared with players within the same industry. It is a part of fundamental analysis also.

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Bulaki Borad

Sanjay Borad is the founder & CEO of eFinanceManagement. He is passionate about keeping and making things simple and easy. Running this blog since 2009 and trying to explain "Financial Management Concepts in Layman's Terms".



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