No Time to Lose: The 2008 Working Capital Scorecard

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Beware your survival instincts: they may dampen corporate performance more than you might expect. With a recession looming or quite possibly upon us, it can be tempting to ease up on receivables and retain inventory in order to placate cash-strapped customers. But those seemingly small sacrifices actually impose a steep cost, diverting precious cash to working capital. CFOs who want to bolster the case for strict working-capital policies may find plenty of support in the 11th annual CFO/REL Working Capital Scorecard. The 2008 scorecard ranks working-capital performance at the largest 1,000 public U.S.-headquartered companies. Overall, 61 percent of the 57 industries covered in the scorecard improved their days working capital (DWC) number last year by an average of 8 percent. But there is still much room for improvement.

To read the complete results of our working capital scorecard, see the box in the bottom right-hand corner of this page.

No Time to Lose: The 2008 Working Capital Scorecard
Tempted to extend payment terms? That's one sign that working capital demands your immediate attention.

Growing Problems: The 2007 Working Capital Survey
Focused on growth and more reliant on overseas suppliers, companies have let inventories swell.
How Low Can It Go? The 2006 Working Capital Scorecard
Companies continue to reduce working-capital levels, and they have 450 billion reasons to keep at it.
Capital Ideas: The 2005 Working Capital Survey
Despite cheap credit and surplus cash, companies still find plenty of reasons to improve operational efficiency.
Off the Shelf: The 2004 Working Capital Survey
Low inventories drove down working capital last year. But will that continue as the economy improves?
Barely Working: The 2003 Working Capital Survey
Companies squeezed more cash from their businesses this year -- but not much. Was it the economy, or too much focus on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance?
We Can Work It Out: The 2002 Working Capital Survey
Some companies have learned how to reduce working capital without punishing customers or suppliers. But the alternatives aren't totally pain-free.
Forget the Float? The 2001 Working Capital Survey
In a tough operating environment, negative working capital isn't always a plus.
Cash Crop: The 2000 Working Capital Survey
Companies that mind their cash flow are enjoying bumper years.

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The online tables for CFO magazine's 2008 Working Capital Scorecard, conducted by REL, feature a browsable version of 57 industry sectors, and many companies not included in the magazine. All data elements are based on public financials and adjusted for comparability; figures for companies marked with an asterisk have been adjusted for the effects of securitization.

See the results that appeared in print (PDF)

Download the complete 2008 Working Capital Scorecard results (Excel spreadsheet)

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