Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) gadget guru Steve Jobs recently told Bloomberg that he has no plan to squander the companies $43 billion cash horde on something as paltry as dividends or buybacks. Nor do Apple Inc. and Jobs want to go the way of Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), which makes a habit of a few dozen buyouts and acquisitions for a few billion each year – with 25 total deals for Google in 2010, and 6 already in 2011.
In the words of Jobs, Apple is content to sit on its hoard and wait for “bold” investment opportunities for buyout targets or acquisitions. And until the perfect scenario arises, that war chest — $10.7 billion in cash & equivalents, $16.2 billion in short-term investments, $10.8 billion in receivables and $5.1 billion in “other” assets as of the end of 2010 – is quite a mammoth horde for Apple to mull over.
Just how mammoth is Apple’s cash? Take a look:
Apple’s Cash vs. Blue Chip Stocks
As Big As: There’s much ado about how Apple was closing in on Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) for the largest stock by market cap on Wall Street. At least, before the oil surge sent Exxon out of reach, anyway. But consider that the $43 billion bigger than the market size of Nike (NYSE: NKE). iPods in your workout shoes, anyone? Also, it’s bigger than Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) – in case the creative minds at Apple feel like making crazy investment schemes instead of creative consumer gadgets. Other companies under the $43 billion threshold include auctioneer eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), media stock Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and agri giant Monsanto (NYSE: MON).
2x Bigger Than: Why stop at one company though, when Apple’s cash is worth a pair of big-name blue chips? If Apple wanted to get into retail, the combo of TJX Cos. (NYSE: TJX) and Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS) is under the $43 billion limit. Want to play the gold rush? $43 billion is larger than the market caps of both Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC) and Anglogold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) combined. Feel like a bigger push into media? Apple could scoop up Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Discovery Communications (NYSE: DISCA).
3x Bigger Than: If Apple was looking for a trifecta, it could mix and match with three of these companies – which are all less than a third the AAPL cash and assets on hand: PPG Industries (NYSE: PPG), Western Union (NYSE: WU), Marriott (NYSE: MAR), Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), Progressive (NYSE: PGR), ARM Holdings (NASDAQ: ARMH) and The Gap (NYSE: GPS).
Apple’s Cash vs. the World
iPads for All of Germany: The new entry-level, WiFi only iPad 2 starts at $499. If Apple felt like giving back, it could pay full price for nearly 86,200,000 of the next-gen gadgets. That’s enough for each resident in Germany.
Kindles For All Americans: If it felt like juicing rival Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Apple could purchase nearly 309,400,000 entry-level Kindles at $139 a pop. That’s enough for almost every single person in the United States.
That’ll Keep the Doctor Away: Right Now, gala apples (my favorite) are on sale at the store down the street for $1.99 a pound. If Apple wanted to, it could buy almost 11 million pounds of the apples. Yum.
Jeff Reeves is editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.