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Tim Cook "Not Religious" About Holding Cash; 66% of Apple's $81B in Cash is Held Overseas

It's a frequent parlor game amongst Apple analysts and watchers to guess and suggest and hypothesize what Apple should do with its huge and growing cash reserves. As of September 24, 2011, Apple is sitting on $81.57 billion in cash. Apple added $5.4 billion to its cash reserves in the last 3 months, and that would have been significantly higher if, as Horace Dediu points out, not for the more than 6,000 Nortel patents Apple purchased the rights to.

To be more precise, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer oversees $9.815 billion in cash and cash equivalents, $16.137 billion in short-term marketable securities, and $55.618 billion in long-term marketable securities. In the earnings call with analysts this afternoon, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the cash wasn't "burning a hole in our pocket" and that the company invested very conservatively and didn't want to do "silly things" with the money.


Cook noted that in recent months Apple had acquired several companies, acquired intellectual property, invested in the supply chain, and invested in new stores. In his first comments as CEO about the cash pile Cook said he wasn't "religious about holding or not holding cash," but Apple would continually ask ourselves what is in Apple's best interest and act accordingly.

"It's a topic for the board on an ongoing basis and we will continue to discuss it," Cook said in response to an analyst question. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer jumped in after Cook was finished answering the question, to point out that more than two-thirds of Apple's $81 billion cash pile was sitting offshore.

The question of offshore cash is an important one, as explained by Reuters:
The U.S. government taxes U.S. businesses on income earned worldwide, but allows them to defer taxes on the money until it is brought back to the United States. As a result, American corporations like to keep the money abroad, particularly as they increase investment overseas.
A number of companies, led by Apple, Google and Cisco have been pushing for a tax holiday on overseas cash holdings to allow the companies to repatriate the money to the United States tax-free.

Top Rated Comments

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36 months ago
It's too bad that the American tax system incentivises not bringing the money back into the United States.
Rating: 33 Votes
36 months ago
They could spend some of that on building an apple store closer to me.
Rating: 18 Votes
36 months ago

So you would rather they not pay taxes on earnings?


Did I say that? I just said that it's a shame that the tax system doesn't incentivise bringing back money from overseas. Incentives could be a temporary lower rate to provide instant benefits, for example. I didn't say they shouldn't pay any taxes; I believe that's creating a false dilemma.
Rating: 17 Votes
36 months ago

Every company does this.

Intel created a separate entity for their fab in Massachusetts. If they hadn't intel would have had to pay taxes to this overtax welfare state on their entire income.


We all tout Apple as a company that revolutionizes everything they touch... maybe it's time for Apple to not be "every company" in terms of bringing money back to the US economy?
Rating: 14 Votes
36 months ago
Crap like this is why america is broke, among other reasons. Apple should really set a standard of investing here in USA. Kinda sad IMO.

I think most would be happy with $360 apple stock prices if apple brought cash back to USA.
Rating: 12 Votes
36 months ago
Funny how the U.S. can tax revenue that never actually existed in the U.S. Gotta love "repatriation!"
Rating: 11 Votes
36 months ago
What I would give for 0.01% of that
Rating: 11 Votes
36 months ago
Every company does this.

Intel created a separate entity for their fab in Massachusetts. If they hadn't intel would have had to pay taxes to this overtax welfare state on their entire income.
Rating: 10 Votes
36 months ago

It's too bad that the American tax system incentivises not bringing the money back into the United States.


So you would rather they not pay taxes on earnings?
Rating: 9 Votes
36 months ago

Yup. Apple would have to pay about $12B in taxes if they brought that money into the U.S.


Technically they should but since they are so "we love USA" they prefer to dodge it. Foreign banks, investments firms, lawyers make money on it yet USA only spends more so apple (NOT ONLY apple to make it clear so no idiot starts another stupid argument) can give others a chance of benefiting from it... Awesome how it all works :)
Rating: 9 Votes

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