NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Which technology giants are hoarding cash? In the post-crisis world, investors seem to place a higher value on receiving dividends than they did before. One well known Wall Street analyst went so far as to say that 10-15% of his clients interested in Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report don't buy the stock because Steve Jobs shuns dividends. So who else should we scrutinize?
We decided to investigate by using our
widgets to compile our lists. We looked at companies with market capitalization (a measure of market value) of more than $30 billion in our coverage universe and then ranked them by the most cash rich in absolute terms and relative to market cap.
The companies that have the highest amounts of cash on the balance sheet are also some of the largest companies within the tech space. These include Apple,
Apple leads the list with over $50 billion in cash and investments followed closely by Microsoft. Qualcomm is last place with $18 billion. Of this group, only Microsoft and Qualcomm currently pay dividends while Apple, Google and Cisco choose to keep cash in their coffers.
We note that Google and Cisco have made several acquisitions over the past few years which is a key rationale companies often cite for not paying dividends.
Top 5 Cash Rich Companies Relative to Market Cap
The companies with the highest levels of cash relative to their market values are included below. These may not be the biggest companies, but they are sitting on comfortable cash positions if we account for their size. These include
Of these, Qualcomm is the only company currently paying dividends. Motorola has in the past and has since stopped.
In comparing the two lists, a few interesting observations come to light:
1) Qualcomm and Cisco have ample cash reserves in both absolute and relative terms and so an investor might argue that Cisco should start paying dividends and Qualcomm should increase its payout ratio.
2) Apple, Microsoft, and Google have the most absolute cash but relative to our market value estimates; they hold 13%, 17% and 16% -- well short of top three cash rich companies in relative terms.
3) Of the eight companies included, only two are currently paying dividends.
If investors are willing to reward companies that pay dividends by buying their shares, then companies with high relative cash holdings in addition to absolute cash levels would do well to listen.
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