With the 45th U.S. President Donald Trump taking office in January and immediately putting into effect his campaign policies, many are looking towards how the repatriation tax will have an effect on American companies with significant foreign revenues. The pre-election economic plans included a special one-off tax holiday allowing U.S. firms to repatriate funds held overseas with only a 10% payment, versus the current 35% rate. We decided to look through the S&P 500 Index and identify which companies may be affected the most.
Top 10 S&P 500 Companies By Total Revenue
The S&P 500 on average has around 33% foreign revenue, which actually dipped from 2010 highs of around 42%1. The Top 10 S&P 500 companies with the largest dollar amount of Total Revenue are shown in Table 1. Apple and Exxon Mobile (both 65%) have the largest percentage of foreign revenue, with Chevron coming in 3rd at 48%. The current 35% tax rate seems to discourage many companies from repatriating their overseas cash. Apple for example has been known to borrow money to pay dividends, instead of using its overseas cash. Although the incentive seems clear enough, if we look back to 2004, when then-President George Bush reduced the repatriation tax to 5.25%, we saw cash being spent on share buybacks and dividends, with only a small percentage going toward domestic employment and capital expenditure. This raises concerns about the future benefits of a one-time repatriation tax reduction as a long-term solution to bolster up the U.S. economy and drive infrastructure spending.
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To fully realize the potential gains for some of these sectors and companies one should look at the international cash holding. To find out the leading cash holders by sector read: Implications of the U.S. Presidential Election on U.S. Corporate Foreign Cash Reserves
Top 10 S&P 500 Companies By Percentage of Foreign Revenue
Looking at which companies in the index have the largest percentage of foreign revenue, irrespective of size, shows a clear picture that the Semiconductor industry is leading the way. Table 2 shows all companies generating over 83% foreign revenues. In fact, Philip Morris is one out of only two non-semiconductor companies in the Top 10 Foreign Revenue list. Interestingly enough, Philip Morris has entirely foreign revenue, after splitting from Altria Group in 20082. The other is Molson Coors Brewing which has 97% of its revenue from abroad with brands like Carling in the UK and Molson in Canada. The company was created by the merger of two large North America’s breweries: Molson of Canada, and Coors of the United States, in 2005.
With all the attention being placed on how the Information Technology industry will benefit from repatriation tax, it is specifically the Semiconductor sector that may benefit the most. The Semiconductor sector has a global supply chain and is very capital intensive, investing heavily on research and development (R&D). President Trump’s plans to levy a 10% repatriation tax on the accumulated profits of US companies’ foreign subsidiaries would be payable over a period of ten years, and it may benefit companies such as Broadcom(LLTC) and NVIDIA (NVDA), which have significant amounts of offshore cash. The question is, would this repatriation money be used to shore up R&D, or would it be a repetition of 2004 as stated earlier?
To read more on how S&P Global believes repatriated corporate cash can save America’s Infrastructure, please click here. And for further reading on cash rich companies go to: Hoarding Billions: Biggest Cash Rich Companies of 2015
Some S&P 500 companies that one may expect to be included in this list did not make the cut, either due to their revenue not being large enough for Table 1 or their percentage of foreign revenue being below 83% for Table 2. Nevertheless, the following companies that have significant foreign presence, both in terms of brands and revenue (foreign revenue percentage), are mentioned here: Mondelez (78%), PepsiCo (44%), The Priceline Group (80%), Expedia (44%), E. I. du Pont de Nemours (60%) and Yum!Brands (76%).
Article by Pavle Sabic, FRM – Director, Global Head of Market Development – S&P Global Market Intelligence
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