Working Capital Calculation – Percentage of Sales Method

Percentage of sales method is a working capital forecasting method which is based on past relationship between sales and working capital. Just like technical analysis in the stock market, it assumes that the history will repeat itself and thus the ratio of working capital to sales will remain constant. In other words, it assumes that the whole business will move in tandem with sales.

How to Calculate Working Capital Using Percentage of Sales Method?

Percentage of sales method is the simplest and easiest way of finding future working capital. First, each component of working capital as a percentage of sales is calculated. Like, accounts payable are 20 million, and sales are 100 million, accounts payable as a percentage of sales would be 20%. Secondly, the coming year sales forecast is taken as a base and the component is calculated as per the percentage. In our instant example, if forecasted sales are 150 million, accounts payable should be 30 million. This is as simple as that. Let us see a practical example with formula and example.

Percentage of Sales Method Formula = Component of Working Capital * 100 / Sales of the Year

Percentage of Sales Method Example

Consider following balance sheet for the year 2014 as an example. The sales for 2014 are $400. The forecasted sales figure for the year 2015 is $600.

Assets Amt. ($) Liabilities Amt. ($)
Owner’s Capital 200 Fixed Assets 170
Debentures 110 Inventories 40
Accounts Payable 40 Accounts Receivables 110
Cash and Bank 20
350 290

Percentage of sales method will calculate the working capital and its components as illustrated in the below table. We can see that in the last column, estimates for 2015 are calculated and the working capital requirement for 2015 comes out to be $195 for the forecasted sales figure of $600.


Actual Figures of 2014

% of Sales

Estimate for 2015

Sales (x) 400 100 600
Current Assets 170 42.5 255
Inventories 40 10 60
Accounts Receivables 110 27.5 165
Cash and Bank 20 5 20
Current Liabilities (y) 40 10 60
Accounts Payable 40 10 60
Working Capital (x-y) 130 32.5 195

Advantages and Disadvantages of Percentage of Sales Method

Advantages of this method are that it is easy to understand and simple to calculate. There is not rocket science in calculating the working capital based on this method.

The biggest disadvantage is its assumption which is not very practical in all situations. This method is useful only where the relation between the revenue and working capital is linear. Elsewhere this method is not suggested. Another drawback is that it is highly dependent on sales forecast. If the sales forecast is faulty, a whole calculation will be faulty. Higher working capital would attract higher interest cost and low profitability and lower working capital would pose a problem to the smoothness of the operating cycle.

Other Methods for Estimating the Working Capital Requirements

Operating Cycle Method
Regression Analysis Method

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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".

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