Working Capital Report 2023
Additional c.$12.3 billion cash “released”
McGrathNicol Advisory profiled the working capital performance of 139 ASX listed companies across seven working capital-intensive sectors, with a combined market capitalisation of $1 trillion. Our sample includes ASX listed companies in the Agriculture, Building Products, Construction & Engineering, Food & Beverage, Mining & Resources, Retail and Transport & Logistics sectors. We have analysed the most recent full year (FY) results for 2023 and 2022, and incorporated international benchmarks for Asia, the US and Europe.
2023 saw the continued “normalisation” of trading conditions and stabilisation of global supply chains. However, businesses continued to be challenged by inflationary pressures (increasing input and energy costs), poor weather conditions in some regions, and labour shortages. Of our sampled companies, 76% reported an increase in revenue, however only 67% were able to convert the increase to an increase in earnings (EBITDA). This was all against a backdrop of higher interest rates, further impacting cash flow.
The length of the average working capital cycle shortened by 5.6 days in 2023. This translated to the equivalent of c.$12.3 billion in additional cash released from the working capital balances of our sampled companies. There was a mix of results at the company level, with only 53% of the businesses achieving a reduction in net working capital. This shows that a material competitive advantage can be achieved by implementing best practice.
Key findings explained by Partners Sean Wiles and Jason Ireland
Working capital performance is a primary indicator of an organisation's health, providing insight into the way management teams operate and the strength of their relationships with customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders.
For the second year, we conducted a survey of CFOs from SME and larger organisations to understand how they manage working capital. The results highlight that while working capital management is expected to get harder over the next 12 months, there is evidence that better processes will result in better outcomes.
Working Capital Report authors
Report Summary & Findings