Financial Week: Grumbles Over Apple’s $18.4B Cash

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Appleis current cash position is "apple juice," about US$18.4B, and up an astounding 20 percent in one quarter. Thatis a great position for Apple to be in, but some analysts are fretting about the reasons why Apple is hoarding all that money, according to Financial Week on Monday.

Analysts and investors see the stock pile of cash as a manifestation of Mr. Jobsi insecurity, not as a rational business decision.

?It?s outrageously high,? Gene Munster, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, said of Apple?s cash position. Even so, Mr. Munster and others donit think Apple will change its ways any time soon.

"We are, I think, managing the business very, very well,? Mr. Oppenheimer has said in the past. "Stock buyback programs and other forms of returning the cash are discussed with the board from time to time. But our preference continues to be to maintain a strong balance sheet in order to preserve our flexibility to make strategic investments and/or acquisitions."

The problem is that that strategic investment never seems to come and dividends are never paid. That may be due to some concern about financial situations of the past when Apple needed help from Microsoft. Mr. Munster added: "Given Apple?s history, you have to look at where the company has been over the last 20 years, and I think that plays into the culture of just keeping as much cash as possible. They went through some dark days, and they want to be able to financially weather any changes in the competitive landscape."

Despite the cash hoard, many are willing to let Apple go its way. "People generally trust Apple in regard to how theyive used their money in the past," Mr. Munster said. Other investors have noted that Apple isnit making as much money as it has in the past due to recent lower interest rates. A look at Appleis investment profile reveals nothing spectacular: Treasury and agency securities, corporate securities, CDs, and foreign commercial paper. Most have maturities less than 12 months.

"I think it becomes more pressing of an issue, because the returns on holding the cash arenit as much," said Andy Hargreaves, a senior research analyst at Pacific Crest Securities. Grumbles in the investment community linger on.

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