Start the conversation
The trend of companies in America hoarding cash keeps growing.
The 10 U.S. companies with the most cash reported a combined $540 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments in their last quarterly reports. That's up nearly 3.7% in just the last quarter.
These cash hoards are why activist investors like Carl Icahn have been pushing companies' boards to share their wealth with stockholders.
In an October letter, Icahn called for tech giant Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) to begin a $150 billion share buyback program. According to its Q3 earnings release on Sept. 28, Apple currently holds $40.4 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments. That, according to Icahn, makes Apple ripe for a major buyback.
And that doesn't even count Apple's overseas holdings or other current assets.
The $40.4 billion Apple owns is huge, but that's only good for No. 5 on our list of top cash-rich companies.
Here's the list of top 10 "cash-rich" companies in the S&P 500, based on cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments, plus how they used the cash they did spend:
- General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) reported cash and cash equivalents of $130.3 billion in September 2013, down slightly from $132.4 billion in June and $138 billion in March. Currently, GE offers its shareholders a dividend of $0.76 per year, or 2.8%. Early in 2013, it was reported that GE planned on buying back $10 billion of its stock from investors. The buyback was prompted by GE selling 49% stake in NBC Universal to Comcast Corp in March. In April, GE acquired the Texas-based oil company Lufkin Industries for $3.3 billion.
- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) had a total of $80.6 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of September. This was the fourth consecutive quarter of growth for the company that reported $77 billion in June, $74.4 billion in March, and $68.2 billion in December 2012. MSFT provides its shareholders with a 3% dividend, or $1.12 per year. In September, MSFT made headlines for its $40 billion stock buyback and 22% dividend increase. In the same month, Microsoft completed a $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia Corp.'s (NYSE: NOK) cellphone business.
- Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) is third with a cash and short-term investment hoard of $56.4 billion as of September. Google is another company that has added to its cash total in recent quarters, reporting $54.3 billion in June and $50.0 billion in March. Despite all that cash, GOOG does not issue a dividend and has never offered a shareholder buyback. The search engine mogul has a long history of acquisitions, and its purchase of Israeli navigation software Waze, for just shy of $1 billion in June 2013, was its largest in several years.