In a new report, S&P’s Capital IQ Global Markets Intelligence group takes a look at the rising cash hoards held by US companies.
Among quarterly results posted by 68 of the 419 nonfinancial S&P 500 companies, total cash and short-term investments on the balance sheet at year-end 2011 totaled $440.4 billion, up 23.7% from those same companies’ collective year-end 2010 total of $356.1 billion, according to S&P Capital IQ data.
Among companies reporting financial results so far this season, the 10 companies with the largest holdings include General Electric Co., with $131.9 billion on its balance sheet at the close of 2011, followed by Microsoft Corp. ($50.7 billion) and Google Inc. ($44.6 billion). Of the top 10, Intel Corp. was the only company to experience a drop in its year-end 2011 total from year-end 2010, after the company reported $14.8 billon for year-end 2011, off 32.2% from the prior-year period.
Although less than one-quarter of the 71 companies in the information technology sector have reported results, the sector currently ranks first in terms of cash holdings, with more than $181.3 billion, representing a 13.4% increase from those same reporting companies’ cash totals for year-end 2010.
(The report was prepared before Apple Inc. reported cash on hand of $97.6 billion, up 20% over the last quarter and more than double the year earlier level.)