Methods for Estimating Working Capital Requirement

There are broadly three methods of estimating or analyzing the requirement of working capital of a company, viz. percentage of revenue or sales, regression analysis, and operating cycle method. Estimating working capital means calculating future working capital. It should be as accurate as possible because the working capital planning would be based on these estimates, and banks and other financial institutes finance the working capital needs to be based only on such estimates.

3 Methods for Estimating Working Capital requirement are as follows:

Percentage of Sales Method

Percentage of Sales Method is the easiest of the methods for calculating the working capital requirement of a company. This method is based on the principle of ‘history repeats itself.’ For estimating, a relationship of sales and working capital is worked out for, say last 5 years. If it is constantly coming near, say 40%, i.e., working capital level is 40% of sales, the following year’s estimation is done based on this estimate. If the expected sales are 500 million dollars, 200 million dollars would be required as working capital.

The advantage of this method is that it is very simple to understand and calculate also. The disadvantage includes its assumption, which is difficult to be true for many organizations. So, this method is not useful where there is no linear relationship between the revenue and working capital. In new startup projects, this method is not applicable because there is no past.

Method For Estimating working Capital Requirement

Methods for Estimating Working Capital RequirementRegression Analysis Method

Regression Analysis Method is a statistical estimation tool utilized by mass for various types of estimation. It tries to establish a trend relationship. We will use it for working capital estimation. This method expresses the relationship between revenue & working capital in the form of an equation (Working Capital = Intercept + Slope * Revenue). The slope is the rate of change of working capital with one unit change in revenue. Intercept is the point where regression line and working capital axis meet (Will not go deeper into statistical details). At the end of the statistical exercise with past revenue and working capital  data, we will get an equation like the below:

Working Capital = -6.34 + 0.46 * Revenue

To calculate working capital, just put the targeted revenue figure in the above equation, say 200 million dollars.

Working Capital = -6.34 + 0.46 * 200 = -6.34 + 92 = 85.66 ~ 86 Million Dollar.

Therefore, we need 86 million dollars of working capital to achieve a revenue of 200 million dollars.

Operating Cycle Method

The operating cycle method is probably the best of the methods because it considers the actual business or industry situation while giving an estimate of working capital. A general rule can be stated in this method. The longer the working capital operating cycle, the higher the requirement for working capital and vice versa. We would agree on the point also. The following formula can be used to estimate or calculate the working capital

Working Capital = Cost of Goods Sold (Estimated) * (No. of Days of Operating Cycle / 365 Days) + Bank and Cash Balance.

If the cost of goods sold (estimated) is $35 million and the operating cycle is 75 days, the bank balance required is 1.25 million. Therefore, Working Capital = 35 * 75/365 + 1.25 = $8.44 Million.

In this method, each component can also be calculated. It means a bifurcation of $8.44 million can be done in inventory, cash, accounts receivable, accounts payable, etc.

Must read:

Techniques for Finding Optimal Level of Working Capital

& Factors Determining Working Capital Requirement

Sanjay 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".

8 thoughts on “Methods for Estimating Working Capital Requirement”

  1. Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?
    Thank you so much!

  2. Sir,i have manufacturing plus trading business, i have to calculate working capital, my sales is 10 lac per month, i m purchasing raw materials on 15 days credit side, n selling lt on 15 to 1 month credit ,my debtors plus stock is equivalent to my creditors, i m feeling shortage of money, how much i have invest to improve my financial position

  3. In statement of cost structure, where the office and administration expenses should be included ? before or after cost of production?


Leave a Comment