Apple’s Cash Stockpile Has Reached New Heights But Not In the U.S.
Apple is getting richer.
The tech giant revealed on Tuesday in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report that its cash and marketable securities stockpile grew by $6.1 billion during the period to $237.6 billion. At that level, Apple’s cash has hit a new record, and there are no signs of it slowing down as the company’s profits continue to pile up.
However, if you’re looking to find all that cash in the United States, you’ll be out of luck. The company’s CFO Luca Maestri said during an earnings call on Tuesday that 91% of Apple’s cash, or about $216 billion, is currently sitting outside the country.
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For years, Apple (AAPL) has heard from U.S. lawmakers and critics who have taken aim at the company’s decision to keep its cash hoard overseas. They argue that by keeping most of its cash overseas, Apple is sidestepping taxes it would otherwise incur in the U.S.
While Apple has long denied that it is sidestepping any tax bills and says it pays more in taxes that anyone in the U.S., the company has said that it keeps much of its cash overseas. In an interview with Charlie Rose last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that Apple’s cash sits in international banks and said he’d “love” to bring the cash back, but blamed the U.S. tax code for not allowing him to do it.
“Because it would cost me 40% to bring it home. And I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do,” said Cook when pressed for why he wouldn’t just bring Apple’s cash home. “This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It’s backwards. It’s awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It’s past time to get it done.”
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Keeping so much cash in its coffers has also been cause for concern for investors who have wondered when they might get some of it back. In response, Apple has in recent years offered a stock split and an aggressive dividend strategy to return some of its cash to shareholders.
But the cash also affords Apple the opportunity to grow. The company’s research-and-development costs have more than doubled in the last three years to $1.9 billion. Apple has also invested in several acquisitions, including four in the last quarter alone.
But even with those investments, Apple is generating billions of dollars in profit each quarter, only adding to its cash. Exactly when (or even if) it might spend a significant sum is unknown. But as Cook said during Tuesday’s earnings call, Apple is always considering acquisitions.