The words “technology company” and cash do not necessarily go together, but perhaps they should. Even though history has conditioned us to think of American technology companies as long on hype and short on money, financial records indicate that some U.S. tech outfits are actually flush with cash right now.
A few Silicon Valley giants have actually accumulated huge cash reserves that should make us reconsider our basic assumptions about this industry. The sheer amount of cash held by a few of these companies indicates that the balance of financial power in the United States could be shifting from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, a paradigm shift that has profound implications for the nation’s future.
Technology Companies That Have Accumulated Large Amounts of Cash Include:
Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG & GOOGL) – The amount of cash that Google held in cash and short-term investments on June 30, 2015; $69.78 billion (€61.56 billion), actually exceeded the amount of revenue it reported for second quarter 2015: $69.61 billion (€69.61 billion). Google was actually holding more cash than Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B.), which reported having $66.59 billion (€58.75 billion) in the bank on June 30, 2015.
What’s even more interesting is that Google keeps raking in more cash. It reported making $25.96 billion (€25.90) in cash from operations during the second quarter of 2015, which gives the company a net income of $15.09 billion (€13.31 billion) for that period. That gave Google a free cash flow of $4.47 billion (€4.47 billion).
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) – Facebook and Google have one interesting thing in common: The amount of cash they hold in the bank is similar to that of the company’s revenue. On June 30, 2015, Facebook reported holding $14.12 billion (€12.46 billion) in cash and short-term investments and revenues of $14.64 billion (€12.92 billion). Facebook generated $6.411 billion (€5.66 billion) in cash from operations during the second quarter, giving it a net income of $2.798 billion (€2.63 billion).
Facebook’s cash-intensive business model is reminiscent of both Google and Berkshire Hathaway. If you are looking for a future Google or Berkshire, Facebook could be it.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) – Even though Apple has a reputation as a money machine, its cash situation is a little different from Google’s. On June 30, 2015, Apple was holding $34.7 billion (€30.61 billion) in cash and short-term investments, a number that was far less than its second quarter 2015 TTM revenue of $224.34 billion (€197.92 billion) and less than its net income for the second quarter: $50.74 billion (€44.76 billion). The amount of cash Apple is generating is staggering. It reported making $81.04 billion €71.5 billion) in cash from operations during the second quarter.
If you are looking for a dividend-paying company with a lot of cash, Apple is certainly worth a look. Despite all the hype around it, Apple is still generating a lot of cash and should do so for a long time to come.
PayPal Holdings (NASDAQ: PYPL) – Even though it only resumed operations as an independent company in July, PayPal is well worth a look from cash investors. When it went public in July, PayPal reported holding $4.408 billion (€3.57 billion) in cash and short-term investments.
It is not posting full financials yet, but some of the information PayPal made available about its operations before splitting from eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) will certainly interest value investors. PayPal reported a revenue of $8.03 billion (€7.08 billion) for 2014 and a revenue of $2.29 billion (€2.02 billion) for second quarter 2015. That shows it might be poised for the kind of growth seen at Facebook.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) – Software is still a very profitable business. Microsoft reported holding $96.53 billion (€85.16 billion) in cash and short-term investments on June 30, 2015—more than either Google or Berkshire Hathaway. As at Google, the amount Microsoft was holding in the bank actually exceeded its TTM revenue, which was $93.58 billion (€82.56 billion). If that was not enough, Microsoft reported making $29.09 billion (€32.97 billion) in cash and from operations and a net income of $12.19 billion (€10.75 billion) for the second quarter 2015. Although it is often dismissed as old fashioned, the cash proves that Microsoft is still a force to be reckoned with. Like Apple it, also pays a dividend, which should interest old-school investors.
Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) – Microsoft is not the only software company holding an incredible amount of cash. Oracle had $54.37 billion (€47.97 billion) in cash and short-term investments on August 31, 2015. It actually had more money in the bank than Apple although not as much as Google or Microsoft. What is even more interesting is that the amount Oracle held in the bank greatly exceeded its revenue: Oracle reported a TTM revenue of $38.23 billion (€33.73 billion) on May 31, 2015. Oracle made $14.34 billion (€12.65 billion) in cash from operations during the second quarter, giving it a net income of $9.938 billion (€8.77 billion) and making it the richest tech company you often hear little about.
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) – In every industry, there seems to be one company that seems to break the rules. When it comes to cash in the tech world, it is Amazon. The Everything Store reported holding $14 billion (€12.35 billion) in cash and short-term investments on June 30, 2015, yet it had a net income of -$188 million (-€165.86 million) for the second quarter of 2015. What’s truly interesting is that Amazon generated $8.98 billion (€7.92 billion) in cash from operations and reported a TTM revenue of $95.81 billion (€84.53 billion) for the second quarter of 2015.
Jeff Bezos seems to have figured out how to generate a lot of cash, but he does not seem to know how to keep it. One reason for Amazon’s inability to keep cash is its retail operations, which require a steady flow of merchandise. Another is that Bezos himself seems to be more interested in empire building than money making.
Is Technology the New King of Cash?
The figures indicate that those looking for cash-generating businesses and companies with a lot of float had better take a good look at the tech sector. It seems to be flush with cash these days, and the amount of cash is growing and even exceeding that on Wall Street.
At least two tech companies, Google and Microsoft, were holding more cash in the bank during the second quarter of 2015 than America’s most famous investment bank: Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS). Goldman Sachs reported having $60.84 billion (€53.67 billion) in cash and short-term investments on June 30, 2015. To make the story more interesting, three tech companies—Google, Microsoft and Oracle—were holding more money in the bank than another famed investment bank: Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS). Morgan Stanley was holding $46.36 billion in cash and short-term investments on June 30, 2015.
If money is power, it looks as if the center of power in the United States has shifted. Investors that like to follow the money or the cash might be well advised to follow it.