Working Capital: When It Can Be Negative

nwc meaning

In Scenario B, the seller delivered a net working capital that is lower than the Peg. In this case, there will be a potential reduction in purchase price by $2,000,000. The seller’s proceeds will be lower by the deficiency nwc meaning in net working capital delivered at close. A net working capital analysis, which is generally used in determining the net working capital peg, is key in avoiding disputes as previously mentioned, among other things.

Gross working capital is all a company’s current assets, particularly cash and cash equivalents. This is different from working capital, also called net working capital. Working capital takes debts and expenses into account, subtracting them from total assets. Gross working capital does not consider debts and expenses, only assets.

Anomalies as of the Measurement Date

Replacing your short-term debts with long-term debts is also very important. Upgrading to a paid membership gives you access to our extensive collection of plug-and-play Templates designed to power your performance—as well as CFI’s full course catalog and accredited Certification Programs. BDO is the brand name for the BDO network and for each of the BDO Member Firms. BDO USA, P.C., a Virginia professional corporation, is the U.S. member of BDO International Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, and forms part of the international BDO network of independent member firms.

You might also consider returning unused inventory to suppliers in exchange for a restocking fee. Or, consider extending the number of days before accounts payable are paid, though this will likely annoy suppliers. Extending the payable days is most effective when you can offer volume purchases in exchange.

Impact of a Line of Credit

NWC is frequently used by accountants and business owners to swiftly evaluate the financial standing of a firm at any time. If a business has a line of credit, it might conceal liquidity problems. Thus NWC should always be compared with the remaining balance left on any lines of credit. If future periods for the current accounts are not available, create a section to outline the drivers and assumptions for the main assets. Use the historical data to calculate drivers and assumptions for future periods.

  • Keeping some extra current assets ensures that a company can pay its bills on time.
  • Recorded balances for current assets and current liabilities in the target’s books and records may not accurately reflect their economic impact (for example; allowances against aged accounts receivable).
  • However, investments are not current assets—as a result, the company’s current assets equal 300.
  • If the closing net working capital is lower than the peg, the buyer may pay a lower amount, dollar-for-dollar, which effectively decreases the purchase price.

The need for working capital is directly linked to the growth of the business. You need to answer this question considering serval attributes of working capital discussed above. We’ll now move on to a modeling exercise, which you can access by filling out the form below. A decrease in cash, for example, after purchasing a new property or equipment, will decrease working capital; conversely, working capital will also rise when cash increases. Therefore, the fluctuations in working capital are mainly due to changes in cash. Because with better working capital management, you’ll find your business better equipped to negotiate.

Net working capital formula

Working capital is a measure of how well a company is able to manage its short-term financial obligations. In the absence of further contextual details, negative net working capital (NWC) is not necessarily a concerning sign about the financial health of a company. If calculating free cash flow – whether on an unlevered FCF or levered FCF basis – an increase in the change in NWC is subtracted from the cash flow amount. An increase in the balance of an operating asset represents an outflow of cash – however, an increase in an operating liability represents an inflow of cash (and vice versa).

A more nuanced view is to plot net working capital against the remaining available balance on the line of credit. If the line has been nearly consumed, then there is a greater potential for a liquidity problem. Ideally, the optimal ratio should be between 1.2 – 2 times the amount of current assets to current liabilities. If you see a higher number, it could mean that your company isn’t using its current assets to its maximum.


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