The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential benefits of an optimal vs observed working capital; the latter being measured by cash conversion cycle (CCC). Optimal CCC is defined and measured as the CCC that maximizes sales in the last four quarters. The initial exploratory results show that optimal CCC has been shorter than the observed. In addition, shorter CCC is accompanied by higher return on investment.
The authors use various statistical tools to analyze the differences between determinants of observed and optimal CCC. These statistical tools include Johansen cointegration test, linearity, normality tests, cointegration regression and Granger causality. The authors also use the benefits of discriminant analysis in order to reach a Z-score model that can be used for monitoring the move from an observed to optimal working capital.
The results show that: significant association exists between volatility of sales and CCC; sales volatility and lagged growth of sales carry relatively the highest weights when a firm moves from observed to optimal CCC; shorter CCC is associated significantly with higher profitability; the observed CCC adjusts to an optimal level; as inflation rises causing potential rise in cost of goods sold, firms prefer staying away from optimal levels of working capital; as economic growth slows down, firms stay at the current level of observed working capital; the results are subject to industry and size effects; and the DJIA and NASDAQ listed firms adjust observed CCC to optimal level slowly.
This paper offers three advances in the literature. The first advance is that the paper determines an optimal level of working capital empirically. To the best of the authors’ knowledge up to the date of submission, other related studies did not include an empirical solution to determine optimal working capital. The second advance is that the paper develops an empirical discriminant model that can be used for monitoring firms’ move from an observed to optimal working capital. The third advance is that optimal working capital shows the empirical integration between short-term and long-term investments that results in an improvement to firm’s liquidity and profitability.
The authors of this paper have not made their research data set openly available. Any enquiries regarding the data set can be directed to the corresponding author.
Eldomiaty, T., Anwar, M. and Ayman, A. (2018), "How can firms monitor the move toward optimal working capital?", Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 217-236. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEAS-06-2017-0056
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