Many of the world’s largest corporations are piling up cash like never before. There are at least four companies having $100 billion or more in cash reserves. Their decision to hold onto hundreds of billions of dollars has been frustrating investors, who want these companies to spend more on stock buybacks and dividends. Here we take a look at the top 10 companies with the largest cash reserves.
Financial data provider FactSet has compiled a list of corporations with the largest cash reserves. These giants have been hoarding cash, waiting patiently for the right time (and valuations) to make big-ticket acquisitions. Barring one or two, each of them has also been returning cash to shareholders through stock buybacks and dividends.
While some of these companies are under immense pressure to return more cash to shareholders, they believe it’s better to spend the cash on the long-term future of the company. The current valuations appear to be high, so now might not be the right time to buy.
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FactSet compiled the ranking based on the total cash and cash equivalents (such as short-term bonds) on a company’s balance sheet in the latest quarter.
10- Bristol-Myers Squibb, $32.5 billion
New York-based pharmaceutical giant has a cash reserve of $32.5 billion. It makes prescription drugs and biologics in many therapeutic areas including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, oncology, hepatitis, and psychiatric disorders. It is currently in the process of acquiring Celgene in a $74 billion deal, one of the biggest acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry ever.
9- Cisco, $33.4 billion
Cisco Systems is a leading maker of networking equipment and telecom hardware. According to FactSet, Cisco is sitting on a cash pile of $33.4 billion. Cisco is also one of the largest property owners in Silicon Valley. The company pays a handsome 2.8% dividend. Cisco’s cash reserves have been declining in recent years as the company ramps up its share buyback program. It is estimated to spend $7.7 billion on buybacks this year.
8- Oracle, $35.7 billion
Oracle has spent close to $40 billion on stock buybacks since last year. The company also has a lucrative 1.7% dividend yield. Despite massive buybacks and dividends, the company is sitting on a cash reserve of $35.7 billion. Industry experts believe Oracle is more likely to keep buying back its own shares instead of making big-ticket acquisitions.
7- Ford, $37.3 billion
The automobile giant that was on the verge of bankruptcy a few years ago is sitting on a cash reserve of $37.3 billion as of September 2019. Ford’s annual revenue is close to $160 billion. Its gross profit for 12 months ending September 2019 was $22.34 billion. Its profits have been declining for the past few years. Ford is investing heavily in futuristic technologies such as autonomous driving and electric vehicles.
6- Amazon, $43.7 billion
Amazon is one of the world’s most innovative technology companies. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is obsessed with growth and market dominance rather than profitability. The online retail behemoth has been spending money on strategic acquisitions. Last year, it acquired Ring for $900 million. Amazon also spent a staggering $13.7 billion to buy Whole Foods a couple of years ago.
5- Facebook, $52.3 billion
Despite all the regulatory scrutiny and criticism, Facebook is one of the richest corporations out there. It has $52.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents. The US regulators have slapped a $5 billion fine on the social networking giant for violating user privacy. Facebook’s ambitious Libra digital currency is worrying people and politicians around the world.
4- Apple, $100.6 billion
Not too long ago, Apple had upward of $200 billion in cash and short-term investments. Activist investors such as Carl Icahn targeted Apple’s massive cash pile, and the company was forced to go big on stock buybacks and dividends. Its cash reserves have declined by $61 billion in the last couple of years due to the massive buybacks and dividends. Apple is also taking advantage of President Trump’s tax reforms to repatriate overseas cash.
3- Alphabet, $121.2 billion
Google’s parent company Alphabet recently announced the acquisition of Fitbit for $2.1 billion to strengthen its smartwatch business. It has also purchased the business intelligence platform Looker for $2.6 billion. Just like Facebook, Google has attracted regulatory scrutiny for anti-competitive practices. In the last couple of years, the European Union has slapped Google with 8.2 billion euros in antitrust penalty.
2- Berkshire Hathaway, $128.2 billion
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway ended the latest quarter with $128.2 billion cash balance. Berkshire Hathaway has under-performed the S&P 500 index over the last decade. Buffett has drawn the ire of investors for not using the cash to make big-ticket acquisitions. It appears Buffett is waiting for an economic crisis to buy great businesses at attractive prices.
1- Microsoft, $136.6 billion
Microsoft has the largest cash reserve of any company in the world. The Redmond-based software giant has been returning money to shareholders through buybacks and dividends. It has also been making strategic acquisitions to strengthen its business. It purchased LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016 and GitHub for $7.5 billion. Some of its other recent acquisitions include PromoteIQ, Drawbridge, and BlueTalon.