Apple’s Cash Coffers to Swell to $250 Billion

May 01, 2017

Apple's cash coffers continue to grow and could reach new heights when the company announces its earnings on Tuesday.

The iPhone maker on Tuesday is expected to announce that its cash stockpile has now exceeded $250 billion, further cementing its position as the richest company in the world. According to The Wall Street Journal, which earlier reported on Apple's cash hoard, reaching a quarter of a trillion dollars last quarter means Apple doubled its cash on-hand in less than five years.

Apple (aapl) will announce its fiscal second quarter earnings after the bell on Tuesday. Most analysts believe Apple will report strong performance in its iPhone division and ongoing softness in the iPad unit. Apple's Services business was also believed to be a strong performer last quarter.

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The company's growing cash balance has been a source of debate for years, and now that it's expected to reach a new milestone, Apple's cash policy could again be called into question.

Apple has over the last several quarters engaged in stock buybacks and dividends to return some of its cash to shareholders. Still, each quarter its cash balance grows, causing analysts in each earnings call to question what the company's executive team has planned.

For his part, Apple CEO Tim Cook said during Apple's last earnings call in February that he would consider acquisitions and even some big purchases that could force the company to dip deep into its cash reserves. However, Apple has yet to announce any such deal, despite reports the company could be looking at major media companies and content creators. Time Warner (twx) and Disney (dis) were briefly floated as possible targets, through Apple hasn't confirmed it's even considered any such buy.

Meanwhile, the company's cash has also become a point of political debate. More than 90% of Apple's cash sits overseas and is safeguarded from American tax laws. While Apple has said that it pays billions of dollars each year in taxes, some have called on the company to repatriate its cash and pay the 35% tax levied on American corporations. In an interview in 2015 with Charlie Rose, Cook said that he would consider repatriating the cash, but doing so under existing law would cost his company too much.

Last week, however, President Donald Trump revealed a tax plan that, among other things, includes a one-time holiday on repatriated cash. Soon after it was announced, political pundits debated whether Apple would, or even could, bring back its cash under the Trump proposal.

Apple has remained silent on its cash plans and typically shies away from any concrete discussion on what it might do with it. But given its growth and Trump's proposal, it might play a prominent role during the company's earnings call on Tuesday.

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