Apple tops tech-dominated list of cash-rich companies

The cash-rich keep getting richer.

Exhibit A: Apple. The tech giant added a cool $30 billion to its hoard at the end of 2016, bringing its cash pile to $246 billion and once again topping a list of the five non-financial U.S. companies with the most cash, according to Moody’s.

Tech companies comprised the top five for the first time in last year’s annual investor’s report, and the same names did so again this year. Rounding out the top five after Apple: Microsoft, Alphabet/Google, Cisco and Oracle, according to the report, which Moody’s released Wednesday.

The tech industry again had the largest cash hoard, $871 billion, making up 47 percent of the $1.84 trillion non-financial U.S. companies held at the end of the year. The top five companies accounted for $594 billion, or 32 percent.

Most of the other eye-popping numbers were up at the end of 2016 compared with the end of 2015, including cash held overseas: $1.3 trillion, compared with $1.2 trillion. The tech sector accounts for a majority of that, too: 52 percent, or $669 billion — that’s up from $630 billion at the end of 2015.

“Because domestic cash is consumed by dividends and share buybacks and is used to pay for the majority of acquisitions, we expect that overseas cash balances will continue to grow, unless tax laws are changed to encourage companies to repatriate money,” Moody’s said in its report.

It’s almost exactly what Moody’s said in last year’s report, but this year Moody’s mentioned that President Donald Trump during his campaign had promised a one-time tax-repatriation rate of 10 percent — which would be way lower than the corporate tax rate of 35 percent.

“But given the divisive political climate in Washington, a one-off tax reduction on repatriated cash, much less a more comprehensive reform of U.S. tax law, is looking increasingly unlikely this year,” Moody’s added.

Here’s a look at the top five companies’ cash hoard and what percentage of that they hold overseas:

  • Apple: $246 billion, 94 percent held overseas (up from 93 percent in 2015)
  • Microsoft: $131.2 billion, 95 percent overseas (up from 94 percent)
  • Alphabet: $86.3 billion, 60 percent overseas (up from 59 percent)
  • Cisco: $71.8 billion, 87 percent overseas (down from 94 percent)
  • Oracle: $52.8 billion, 88 percent overseas (up from 87 percent)

Other tech companies that topped the cash-rich list include Gilead Sciences, Qualcomm, Facebook, Amazon, Intel, HP Enterprise and HP, eBay and Yahoo.

Besides tech, the other sectors most flush with cash are healthcare/pharmaceuticals, consumer products and energy.

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