Special Report

American Companies with the Most Cash

While many individual Americans are struggling financially, some of the largest corporations in the United States are sitting on billions in cash. Moody’s pointed out in March that U.S. nonfinancial companies’ cash holdings rose to $1.24 trillion.

Read: American Companies with the Most Cash

24/7 Wall St. looked at the 10 companies with the largest cash piles the end of their most recently reported quarters. These companies combined have about $317 billion in cash and short-term investments on hand.

All of the companies on this list are large, multinational corporations. Every one had sales of at least $15 billion during the past 12 months, and all but one were Fortune 100 companies in 2012. The five companies with the most cash on their balance sheets are all technology companies, although they have different specialties, such as hardware or software. Also in the top 10 are two well-known oil companies, two drugmakers and a health insurer.

Companies hoard cash for a variety of reasons. Concerns about future economic conditions often lead companies to keep a sizable amount of cash in case demand for their products or services drop and they begin to post quarterly losses. Sometimes when the economic environment improves, firms return cash to shareholders in the form of a dividend or share buyback. In other cases, cash is held for potential acquisitions. But, there are cases, one of which was Apple until recently, where the company does not need the cash. This sometimes causes shareholder objections.

When listing the American companies with the most cash and short-term investments, 24/7 Wall St. also added several other factors about the company. We looked at the quarterly filings with the SEC and from Capital IQ for each company to get revenue and earnings for the past 12 months (LTM). We also looked at a company’s market capitalization, which is calculated by multiplying the share price and the number of shares outstanding on the market, and the dividend yield paid out to shareholders. In addition, we looked at the change in stock price over
the past 12 months to analyze each company’s market performance. We looked at other recent news about the companies to get a feel for market conditions and what the companies may do with their cash piles in the near future.

These are the 10 corporations with the most cash and short-term investments.

10. Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM)
> Cash and short-term investments: $17.80 billion
> LTM revenue: $434.82 billion
> LTM earnings: $45.10 billion
> Market cap: $402.97 billion
> Yield: 2.50%

Exxon is definitely sitting on a lot of cash, but it will not do so forever. Earlier this year, the company announced it would spend $37 billion a year over the next five years to find and develop new sources of energy around the world. The company also has been returning much of its cash to shareholders. In April, Exxon announced it was raising its quarterly dividend to 57 cents a share, and it has surpassed AT&T (NYSE: T) as the top corporate dividend payer in the U.S. based on total payout to shareholders, paying out $10.75 billion annually. Until Apple’s recent meteoric stock price rise, Exxon was the most valuable company in the world as measured by its market cap.

9. WellPoint Inc. (NYSE: WLP)
> Cash and short-term investments: $20.31 billion
> LTM revenue: $61.54 billion
> LTM earnings: $2.52 billion
> Market cap: $ 19.47 billion
> Yield: 1.90%

WellPoint has hit a rough patch recently, with second-quarter earnings below the previous year and below analyst estimates. Shares of the health insurer have fallen by 4.05% in the past year. Former CEO Angela Braly stepped aside at the end of August following concerns by major shareholders such as Omega Advisors and T. Rowe Price Group that the company’s performance was lagging, according to the Wall Street Journal. With the remaining implementation provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care set for the next few years, the near future will be a telling time for the direction of the company as to whether it can provide fair returns to shareholders after it covers riskier patients with its plans and is forced to compete in insurance exchanges. However, flush with more than $20 billion in cash, there is not much need to ring the alarm bells yet regarding the company’s future performance.

Also Read: America’s Most Hated Industries

8. Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX)
> Cash and short-term investments: $21.46 billion
> LTM revenue: $230.56 billion
> LTM earnings: $26.63 billion
> Market cap: $220.07 billion
> Yield: 3.20%

With a cash pile of more than $21 billion, Chevron has more cash on hand than any other energy company in the country. While the public corporation claims that it is just trying to build a cushion in the face of volatile energy prices, similar to companies such as Exxon Mobil, The Wall Street Journal reported in August that experts believe Chevron is in prime position to acquire other energy companies. Notably, the collapse of natural gas prices has hit some energy companies very hard, making them attractive takeover targets. Companies that have been discussed as ripe for takeover include Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) and Hess Corp. (NYSE: HES).

7. Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN)
> Cash and short-term investments: $22.48 billion
> LTM revenue: $16.39 billion
> LTM earnings: $3.84 billion
> Market cap: $64.68 billion
> Yield: 1.70%

Amgen has been successful lately. In the most recent full quarter, the company’s revenue rose 13% while earnings rose 34%, compared to the same quarter in 2011. The company also raised its earnings and revenue guidance for 2012. Shares of the company have increased 54.68% in the previous 12 months. The world’s largest biotechnology company has used its earnings to accumulate cash. Amgen has not been sitting on those reserves. In April, the company agreed to acquire KAI Pharmaceuticals for $315 million in cash and Mustafa Nevzat for $700 million. The company has also announced a dividend of 36 cents a share for the third quarter of 2012, which was paid out on Sept. 7.

6. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE)
> Cash and short-term investments: $24.34 billion
> LTM revenue: $64.86 billion
> LTM earnings: $10.22 billion
> Market cap: $178.22 billion
> Yield: 3.70%

With more than $24 billion of cash and short-term investments on its balance sheet, Pfizer has a larger sum of these on hand than any other nontechnology company in the United States. In the most recent full quarter, the company’s revenue declined by nearly 9% to $15.06 billion from $16.49 billion from a year ago. The world’s largest pharmaceutical company lost patent protection on its former best-selling drug, cholesterol lowering medication Lipitor, and began competing with much cheaper generic versions of the drug. Nevertheless, thanks to lower costs, the company earned $0.43 a share, better than the $0.33 cents a share from a year ago. Shares of Pfizer have risen 30.51% in the past year.

5. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL)
> Cash and short-term investments: $27.65 billion
> LTM revenue: $148.81 billion
> LTM earnings: $40.13 billion
> Market cap: $623.60 billion
> Yield: 1.60%

Earlier in 2012, Apple had nearly $100 billion in cash, short-term investments and marketable securities (a category not used for this list), well more than any other U.S. company. But in March, the company announced it was returning some of that cash to shareholders by paying out a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share. Incredibly strong sales of the iPhone and iPad have boosted Apple’s share price 77.75% in the past year. Now, with a market capitalization of approximately $623.60 billion, Apple is by far the most valuable company in the world. With more excitement from the new iPhone 5, it does not look like Apple’s sales increases will slow down.

4. Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL)
> Cash and short-term investments: $30.68 billion
> LTM revenue: $37.12 billion
> LTM earnings: $9.98 billion
> Market cap: $154.53 billion
> Yield: 0.70%

Oracle, while not experiencing a rapid growth nearly as rapid Apple’s, has seen moderate success as of late, at least compared to the past several years. It remains the dominant enterprise software company in the world. While Oracle’s fourth-quarter revenue grew only by about 1% to $10.9 billion compared to last year, net income rose by a more respectable 8% to $3.45 billion. Shares of Oracle are up 19.18% in the past 12 months. One concern for Oracle is that its hardware systems sales were down 9% in 2012 due to weak demand, although software revenue, which makes up a far larger portion of total revenue, was up 9% on the year. And software is where Oracle is putting its money. The company announced in July it was buying software-defined networking vendor Xsigo Systems for an undisclosed sum. Oracle is famous for the torrid pace of its M&A activity.

Also Read: Companies Paying Their CEO More Than the Taxman

3. Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG)
> Cash and short-term investments: $41.72 billion
> LTM revenue: $43.16 billion
> LTM earnings: $11.11 billion
> Market cap: $224.05 billion
> Yield: 0%

Google has been able to boost revenue by getting more people to click its advertisements. Products such as Android and Maps, despite broad adoption, have not added to the company’s sales in any significant ways. But the success of the firm’s ad business has been so great it has allowed the company to stash away a lot of cash. The company’s revenue of $12.21 billion in the most recent quarter was up 35% from a year earlier. In a span of about 14 years, Google has gone from a scrappy search engine startup to one of the most valuable companies in the world, valued at $224.05 billion. In the past year, shares of Google climbed 30.42%. Google faces more questions about its diversification, some of which is based on use of its cash. Google paid $12.5 billion to buyout Motorola Mobility. But, that puts the search company into a brutally competitive market that includes leaders Samsung and Apple.

2. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO)
> Cash and short-term investments: $48.72 billion
> LTM revenue: $46.06 billion
> LTM earnings: $8.04 billion
> Market cap: $102.21 billion
> Yield: 2.90%

The nearly $50 billion in cash Cisco is sitting on is vital for the Bay Area technology company. Cisco has been facing a general slowdown in demand for information technology equipment due to economic woes both in the U.S. and in Europe. Due to this slowdown, Cisco in July announced job cuts of about 1,300 employees, on top of the 6,500 job cuts announced in 2011. Nevertheless, Cisco’s fourth-quarter and full-year earnings managed to beat Wall St. expectations. Shareholders have been getting their fair share of returns too — the stock price is up 24.35% in the past 12 months. Furthermore, the company announced last month it is hiking its quarterly dividend by 75%.

1. Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT)
> Cash and short-term investments: $62.04 billion
> LTM revenue: $73.72 million
> LTM earnings: $16.98 billion
> Market cap: $258.38 billion
> Yield: 2.60%

As companies such as Apple and Google have been at the forefront of the headlines, some say that Microsoft’s growth is in the past. But given that the company has more cash on hand than any other company based in the United States, a large portion of its huge market cap is due to the strength of its balance sheet nearly as well as to its growth rate. And although it is not considered the sexy company it once was, Microsoft is not doing poorly by any means. In July, the company reported record full-year revenue of $73.72 billion. In the past year, the stock price has risen 19.13%. Sales of the new Windows 8 and Surface tablet, which will begin next month, will be a telling period for the iconic software company.

Samuel Weigley

Follow him on Twitter: SWeigley

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