Days Sales Outstanding

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Definition

The average number of days it takes for a company to collect outstanding receivables. A days sales outstanding (DSO) of 15 means it takes 15 days to collect on sales. Low DSOs are favorable; a company is able to quickly collect on sales. Payments can be used for other purposes.

To think about this conceptually, let's describe a situation with a low DSO. Companies with substantial sales and minor receivables means that the company has sold a lot AND only a small amount of customers owe them payments on those sales. The company is quickly collecting on its sales!

Companies with a low amount of sales and a high amount of customers owing payments on those sales represent a high DSO. This is a situation where the company is unable to quickly collect on its sales.

DSO is a component of the Cash Conversion Cycle (CCC), which is used to determine how long cash is tied up in working capital. A higher DSO will mean a higher CCC for a company.

Formula

Days Sales Outstanding = 91.5 x (Total Receivables/Sales)

Note: YCharts uses quarterly data instead of annual data for this calculation. Total Receivable and Sales refer to Total Receivable and Sales respectively at the end of the quarter, hence the 91.5 multiplier instead of 365.

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