Apple, Inc. isn’t the only tech company sitting on an obscenely large pile of money. In fact if you were to break down the percentage of cash to market cap, Apple has held at a fairly steady 20-30 percent. If you were to go back 10 years ago, you’d be looking at near 100 percent levels.
Google CFO, Patrick Pichette, responded to questions about the Mountain View company’s hoarding of $48.1 billion in cash and short term investments. Not a small sum by any means, certainly dwarfed by Apple’s $137.1 billion. As far the cash is involved, Pichette said the company is “very comfortable” with where they are sitting. The cash you see gives companies like Google and Apple the ability to invest quickly (through R&D, component supplies and acquisitions). Additionally, hoarding cash versus distributing dividends typically results in lower corporate taxes.
Ironically, investors get antsy when those funds aren’t turned into immediate profits, or transferred back to them in the form of dividends. We can speculate for weeks on what a company may do with the cash on hand, but mostly it is intended to be used help position the company for the future. It almost appears though there seems to be a bit of conflict between a company’s long term goals and an investor’s returns. In the case of Apple, some investors are arguing that $137 billion is far too excessive for positioning sake.