Apple's cash heap could top $170 billion by year's end

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The latest report from Moody’s Investors Services said Apple’s cash hoard could top $170 billion by the end of 2013 unless the tech giant changes their philosophy on dividends and stock buybacks.

Last year Cupertino announced plans for a quarterly dividend of $2.5 billion in addition to setting aside $10 billion for stock buybacks. Furthermore, Apple will be spending $1 billion this year to improve and expand retail stores worldwide and another $9 billion on facilities and infrastructure which includes things like new office buildings, data centers and equipment used to build their products.

Apple had $137 billion in cash on hand at the end of last year, adding $16 billion in the last quarter alone. As part of the overall picture among US corporations, Apple is at the top of the list that includes Microsoft, Google, Pfizer and Cisco.

A number of investors including hedge fund manager David Einhorn have been pressuring Cupertino to return more of the cash to shareholders, a topic that is under active discussion at Apple. The aforementioned investor went so far as to file a lawsuit against Apple with regards to the issuance of preferred stock. He ultimately decided to drop the suit earlier this month, however.

Bloomberg recently polled a number of analysts on the subject and found that many believe Apple is preparing to increase the dividend amount by more than 50 percent. Such a move would cost Apple $4.14 per share or nearly $16 billion per year, well within what they have been earning as of late.

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