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$194B! Apple’s cash pile hits record

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$194B! Apple’s cash pile hits record

Apple’s profit may have turned heads. But it’s the cash that really matters now. The digital gadget maker ended the first calendar quarter with $33 billion in cash and short-term investments and $160.4 billion in long-term investments. That means the company has $194 billion in cash and investments, which is more than any other non-financial company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 – by a mile. Apple’s cash and investments in the quarter rose 8.6% from the quarter ended in December – making it the stock market’s version of a money tree.Employees walk up a flight of stairs pri

At $194 billion, Apple has more cash and investments than Microsoft and Google combined. Apple has stored much of its cash in Treasury securities and other long-term investments, so including investments in addition to cash is the best way to get a clean comparison of sheer financial firepower.

Apple’s cash pile is enormously important to investors – who are increasingly hungrily eyeing bigger dividends and stock buybacks. The company announced it plans to boost its capital return program. That means the company is boosting its plan to buyback stock from $90 billion to $140 billion. It’s also boosting its dividend 11%. The $1.16 billion dividend increase is the 20th biggest dividend increase in the history of the S&P 500, says Howard Silverblatt of S&P Dow Jones Indices. (The biggest was a $32.6 billion by Microsoft in 2004). Apple is now the largest payer of dividends writing checks for $12.1 billion a year, topping Exxon Mobil at $11.6 billion, Silverblatt says.

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