Sunday, July 31, 2011

Apple holding more cash than USA

Apple Inc. may not have more money than God. But it's got more cash than Uncle Sam.

As the government struggled to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, the U.S. Treasury's cash balance fell to $74 billion this week. That's less than the $76 billion that Apple now has in cash.

It's not terribly likely that the government will ask Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs for help. But it wouldn't be the first time the government has asked for a bailout from an industry mogul.

In the mid-1890s, with the U.S. economy still recovering from the financial panic of 1893, the U.S. Treasury was in danger of going bankrupt as worried investors clamored to collect what they were owed from U.S. gold reserves. With few options left, President Cleveland met with New York financier J.P. Morgan, who pledged a whopping $60 million in gold. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $1.5 billion today.

The United States is currently spending around $200bn more than it collects in revenue every month.

Apple, on the other hand, is making money hand over fist, according to its financial results.

In the three months ending 25 June, net income was 125% higher than a year earlier at $7.31bn.

With more than $75bn either sitting in the bank or in easily accessible assets, there has been enormous speculation about what the company will do with the money.

"Apple keeps its cards close to its chest," said Daniel Ashdown, an analyst at Juniper Research.

Industry watchers believe that it is building up a war chest to be used for strategic acquisitions of other businesses, and to secure technology patents.

Bookstore Barnes and Noble and the online movie site Netflix have both been tipped as possible targets, said Mr Ashdown.

The company may also have its eye on smaller firms that develop systems Apple might want to add to its devices, such as voice recognition.

Apple dipped into some of its reserves recently when it teamed-up with Microsoft to buy a batch of patents from defunct Canadian firm Nortel.

The bidding consortium shelled out $4.5bn for more than 6,000 patents.

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