## What are Changes in Net Working Capital?

Changes in net working capital is defined as the difference in the working capital from the current year and the previous year. Working capital is a firm’s current asset minus current liability.

Below is the Formula.

**Changes in Net Working Capital Formula = Working Capital (Current Year) – Working Capital (Previous Year)**

Or

**Change in a Net Working Capital Formula = Change in Current Assets – Change in Current Liabilities.**

### How to Calculate Changes in Net Working Capital?

**Step 1 – Find the Current Assets for the current year and previous year**

From the current assets point of view, we consider the below:

- Inventory
- Accounts Receivable
- Prepaid Expenses

**Step 2 – Find the Current Liability for the Current Year and Previous Year**

From the current liabilities, we consider the below:

- Accounts Payable & Accrued Expenses
- Interest Payable
- Deferred Revenue

**Step 3 – Find Working Capital for the Current Year and Previous Year**

- Working Capital (Current Year) = Current Assets (current year) – Current Liabilities (current year)
- Working Capital (Current Year) = Current Assets (current year) – Current Liabilities (current year)

**Step 4 – Calculate Changes in Net Working Capital using the formula below –**

Changes in Net Working Capital Formula = Working Capital (Current Year) – Working Capital (Previous Year).

### Change in Net Working Capital Calculation (Colgate)

Below is the Snapshot of Colgate’s 2016 and 2015 balance sheet.

Let us calculate the Working Capital for Colgate

Working Capital (2016)

- Current Assets (2016) = 4,338
- Current Liabilities (2016) = 3,305
- Working Capital (2016) = 4,338 – 3,305 = $ 1,033 million

Working Capital (2015)

- Current Assets (2015) = 4,384
- Current Liabilities (2015) = 3,534
- Working Capital (2015) = 4,384 – 3,534 = $850 million

**Net change in Working Capital = 1033 – 850 = $183 million (cash outflow)**

### Analysis of the Changes in Net Working Capital

Change in Working capital does mean actual change in value year over year i.e. it means the change in current assets minus the change in current liabilities. With the change in value, we will be able to understand why the working capital has increased or decreased.

Below are a number of actions that will cause a change in Net Working capital:

- If the company does not allow outstanding credit, the account receivables will get reduced. But sales may have a declining effect.
- Inventory planning also impacts the change in working capital. An increase in inventory increases the usage of cash.
- Stretching account payable impacts the change in working capital.
- If the growth rate of the company is high, it uses the cash more for buying inventories and increasing account receivables. Cash will be heavily used for it then.

It is an indicator of operating cash flow and it is recorded on the statement of cash flows. And the cash-flow is one of the important factors to be considered when we value a company. It indicates whether the short-term assets are increasing or decreasing with respect to the short-term liabilities from one year to the next.

### Conclusion

If the Net Working capital is increasing, we can conclude that the company’s liquidity is increasing. It could indicate that the company is able to utilize its existing resources in a better way. Some companies have negative working capital and some companies have positive as we have seen in the above two examples of Microsoft and Walmart. Generally, companies like Walmart which has to maintain a large amount of inventory have negative working capital.

The software companies generally tend to have positive working capital because they do not have to maintain an inventory before they can sell the product. It means that it can generate revenue without increasing current liabilities. Cash flow cannot increase or decrease with an only change in working capital. But if it is not sufficient, the company’s efficiency is greatly reduced.

- If the current assets and current liabilities have increased by the same amount, there would be no change in net working capital.
- If the change is positive, then the change in current liabilities has increased more than the current assets.
- If the change is negative, it means that the change in the current assets has increased more than the current liabilities.

### Changes in Net Working Capital Video

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This has been a guide to Changes in Net Working Capital. Here we discuss this topic in detail including its meaning, formula, calculation of changes in working capital along with examples. You may also have a look at the related articles:

- Change in Net Working Capital (NWC) Formula
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- Example of Accrued Expense Journal Entry
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- Fixed Capital vs Working Capital Differences
- Calculate Working Capital Ratio
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