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News : US Economy Last Updated: Oct 3, 2013 - 10:01 AM

Top 5 US tech firms held $515bn in cash at end June 2013
By Finfacts Team
Oct 2, 2013 - 9:15 AM

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US non-financial companies rated by Moody's held $1.48tn in cash at the end of June 2013, the rating agency says in a new report, "Cash Pile Still Growing, at $1.48tn" (only available to clients). The amount sets a new record, having climbed from $1.45tn at the end of 2012. The top 5 tech firms held $515bn and 61% of the total cash hoard is technically held overseas to avoid paying US corporate tax.

Of the new total, the top 50 companies in terms of cash held $921bn at 30 June, up 4% from $889bn in 2012 and up 18% from $784bn in 2011. Entry to the top 50 list now requires $4.9bn of cash, up from $2.9bn in 2006.

"The top five US cash kings are Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Pfizer," says Richard Lane,  senior vice president. "The technology sector continues to lead among industries, accounting for some $515bn, or 56%, of total non-financial corporate cash."

Healthcare/pharmaceuticals is the next most cash-flush sector, with $146bn, followed by the automotive and consumer sectors, Lane says. Together the four industries account for $787bn, or 85%, of total US non-financial corporate cash.

Apple continues to lead by a wide margin, with $147bn, or 9.9% of total cash at mid-2013, compared with $137bn, or 9.5%, at the end of 2012. Microsoft is second, with $77bn, while Google has $54bn and Cisco, $50bn. Pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer has the fifth-most cash among US non-financial corporates, with just under $50bn.

And it is Apple's number that accounts for the growing concentration of cash among the top 50 companies, even after taking into consideration its more aggressive capital allocation plan, Lane says. "Apple's surging cash balance has brought the concentration of cash among the top 50 US companies to 64% of total corporate cash, while it held steady at just above 50% through 2009."

Reflecting the negative tax consequences of permanently repatriating money to the US, as well as the domestic use of cash for dividends, share buybacks and acquisitions, the amount of cash held outside the country also continues to grow. The figure had risen to $900bn, or 61% of total cash, at 30 June, up from $840bn, or 58%, at the end of 2012.

Finfacts: US company profits per Irish employee at $970,000; Tax paid in Ireland at $25,000

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