Shareholders love it when it’s returned through dividends and buybacks (although companies often waste it on dumb acquisitions). And there’s nothing quite like cash to fortify a company’s balance sheet. Plus, you sure can’t pay your suppliers, employees, bankers or bondholders without it.
But you can’t give shareholders what you don’t have, so companies have to stockpile the greenbacks.
Mission accomplished: Publicly traded U.S. corporations continue to pile up record levels of cash. Indeed, S&P 500 companies (excluding financials) saw their cash and cash equivalents grow 13.5% to $1.27 trillion at the end of the second quarter — the latest period for which data are available, according to FactSet.
That’s a whole lot of firepower waiting to be deployed once the economy picks up. At the very least, companies growing their cash piles at a rapid pace are going to have to make some decisions about what to do with it.
In the meantime, we can expect even more of that cash being returned to shareholders.
Here are the companies with the highest year-over-year growth rates in cash, cash equivalents and short term investments, according to FactSet. (Companies with less than $500 million in cash last year are excluded):