updated 10:25 am EST, Fri December 7, 2007
Apple hoards $15+ billion
Apple is hoarding more money than virtually any other tech company in the United States, regulatory findings show. The company currently holds $15.4 billion in unused reserves, more money than even IBM, Intel or Google. Only Microsoft and Cisco have a greater amount, and nearly a third of Apple's stockpile -- $5 billion -- was added in just the last year. This is in part because the company does not pay dividends, buy major companies, or repurchase much stock.
It is not clear what Apple is planning to do with the money, which would let it buy companies as big as TiVo or Circuit City and still have sizable funds leftover. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer has only explained that its reserves help finance bigger ventures, and that the company occasionally discusses various means of returning money to shareholders, such as the aforementioned share buyback.
Apple may well decide to acquire more small businesses, in line with previous acquisitions such as Emagic, Nothing Real and Zayante. It could alternately make strategic investments in other companies, as it did with Akamai and ARM Holdings. It is rumored though that Apple may be joining Google in bidding for the 700MHz wireless spectrum, which could allow it to build a data network fully independent of AT&T.
It is known that Apple intends to build a new campus near its Cupertino headquarters, designed to group together engineers otherwise based in isolated offices. The development could cost in excess of $500 million, in part because it has to demolish buildings already present at the site, and possibly because it may use a unique design to reflect Apple's perceived status.