What Is Days Working Capital?

Days working capital describes how many days it takes for a company to convert its working capital into revenue. The more days a company has of working capital, the more time it takes to convert that working capital into sales. The days working capital number is indicative of an inefficient company and vice versa.

Key Takeaways

  • Days working capital describes how many days it takes for a company to convert its working capital into revenue.
  • Companies that take fewer days to turn working capital into sales revenue are more efficient than companies that take more days to generate the same amount of revenue.
  • If the days working capital number is decreasing, it might be due to an increase in sales.
  • Conversely, if the days working capital number is high or increasing, it could mean that sales are decreasing or perhaps the company is taking longer to get paid or to collect payment for its payables.
1:45

Days Working Capital

Days Working Capital Formula

DWC=Average working capital× 365Sales revenuewhere:Average working capital=Working capital averagedfor a period of timeSales revenue=Income from sales\begin{aligned} &\text{DWC} = \frac{ \text{Average working capital} \times\ \text{365} }{ \text{Sales revenue} } \\ &\textbf{where:} \\ &\text{Average working capital} = \text{Working capital averaged} \\ &\text{for a period of time} \\ &\text{Sales revenue} = \text{Income from sales} \\ \end{aligned}DWC=Sales revenueAverage working capital× 365where:Average working capital=Working capital averagedfor a period of timeSales revenue=Income from sales

Working capital is a measure of liquidity. Working capital is calculated by the following:

Working Capital=Current AssetsCurrent Liabilitieswhere:Current assets=Assets converted to cash valuewithin a normal operating cycleCurrent liabilities=Debts or obligations due withina normal operating cycle\begin{aligned} &\text{Working Capital} = \text{Current Assets} - \text{Current Liabilities} \\ &\textbf{where:} \\ &\text{Current assets} = \text{Assets converted to cash value} \\ &\text{within a normal operating cycle} \\ &\text{Current liabilities} = \text{Debts or obligations due within} \\ &\text{a normal operating cycle} \\ \end{aligned}Working Capital=Current AssetsCurrent Liabilitieswhere:Current assets=Assets converted to cash valuewithin a normal operating cycleCurrent liabilities=Debts or obligations due withina normal operating cycle

Calculating Days Working Capital

  1. Calculate the working capital for a company by subtracting current liabilities from current assets.
  2. If you're calculating days working capital over a long period such as from one year to another, you can calculate the working capital at the beginning of the period and again at the end of the period and average the two results. You could also calculate the working capital for each quarter and take an average of the four quarters and plug the result into the formula as average working capital.
  3. Multiply the average working capital by 365 or days in the year.
  4. Divide the result by the sales or revenue for the period, which is found on the income statement. You can also take the average sales over multiple periods as well. It all depends on whether you're analyzing one period or multiple periods over time.

Using Days Working Capital

The more days a company has of working capital, the more time it takes to convert that working capital into sales. In other words, a high value of days working capital number is indicative of an inefficient company and vice versa.

As mentioned earlier, working capital is the result of subtracting current liabilities from current assets. Current assets include cash, marketable securities, inventory, accounts receivable, and other short-term assets to be used within one year. Current liabilities include accounts payable and the current portion of long-term debt, which are due within one year.

The difference between current assets and current liabilities represents the company's short-term cash surplus or shortfall. A positive working capital balance means current assets cover current liabilities. Conversely, a negative working capital balance means current liabilities exceed current assets.

While negative and positive working capital calculations provide a general overview of working capital, days working capital provides analysts with a numeric measure for comparison. Days working capital provides analysts with the number of days it takes a company to convert working capital into sales.

Interpreting Days Working Capital

Companies that take fewer days to turn working capital into sales revenue are more efficient than companies that take more days to generate the same amount of revenue.

A low value for days working capital could mean a company is quickly using its working capital and converting into sales. If the days working capital number is decreasing, it might be due to an increase in sales.

Conversely, if the days working capital number is high or increasing, it could mean that sales are decreasing or perhaps the company is taking longer to get paid or to collect payment for its payables.

Working Capital vs. Days Working

Working capital also known as net working capital is the difference between a company’s current assets, like cash, accounts receivable (customers’ unpaid bills), and inventories of raw materials and finished goods, and its current liabilities, like accounts payable.

Working capital is a measure of both a company's operational efficiency and its short-term financial health. Although working capital is important, days working capital demonstrates how many days it takes to convert working capital into revenue.

Limitations of Days Working Capital

As with any financial metric, days working capital does not tell investors whether the number of days is a good or poor number unless it's compared with companies in the same industry. Also, it's important to compare days working capital over multiple periods to see if there is a change or a trend.

Also, ratios can be skewed and produce wonky results from time to time. If a company had a sudden surge in current assets in a period with liabilities and sales remaining unchanged, the days working capital number would increase because the company's working capital would be higher.

No investor would argue that having extra cash on hand, or current assets, would be a bad thing. For this reason, taking the average working capital and average sales over multiple quarters gives investors the most complete and accurate picture.

Example One of Days Working Capital

A company makes $10 million in sales and has current assets or $500,000 and current liabilities of $300,000 for the period.

  • The company's working capital would equal $200,000 or $500,000 - $300,000.
  • The days working capital is calculated by ($200,000 (or working capital) x 365) / $10,000,000
  • Days working capital = 7.3 days

However, if the company made $12 million in sales and working capital didn't change, days working capital would fall to 6.08 days, or ($200,000 (or working capital) x 365) / $12,000,000.

An increased level of sales, all other things equal, produces a lower number of days working capital because the company is converting working capital to more sales at a faster rate.

A company with the days working capital level of 6 takes twice as much time to turn working capital, such as inventory, into sales than a company with the days working capital of 3 for the same period. In other words, the company with 3 days working capital is twice as efficient than the company with 6 days working capital. While the company with a higher ratio is generally the most inefficient, it is important to compare against other companies in the same industry, as different industries have different working capital standards.

Example Two of Days Working Capital

Below is a portion of the balance sheet for Apple Inc. as of December 31, 2018, according to the company's 10Q filing.

  • Current assets totaled 140,828 for the period.
  • Current liabilities totaled 108,283 for the period.
  • Revenue or net sales was $84,310 for the period, which is not shown but is located on the company's income statement.
  • Working capital: $32,545 (140,828 - 108,283).
  • Days working capital is calculated by ($32,545 x 365) / $84,310
  • Days working capital equaled 140.89 days for the period meaning it takes that many days to convert the company's working capital into revenue or sales.
Apple Balance Sheet portion from 12-31-2018 10Q
Apple Balance Sheet portion from 12-31-2018 10Q.  Investopedia