Apple's $76 billion problem: By the numbers
After having its best quarter ever, Apple's cash pile has grown to a whopping $76.2 billion as of the June quarter. The tremendous sum has prompted speculation as to what the company could, and should, do with the cash — from buying Hulu to paying investor dividends. Here, a brief guide by the numbers:
Size of the cash stockpile Apple has built up. It's "just an enormous war chest of money," says analyst Howard Silverblatt.
Amount of cash Apple had amassed last year when analyst Toni Sacconaghi wrote an open letter to the Apple board urging them to do something with all that money. Now, Sacconaghi says the company has "a level of cash that's preposterous by any metric." He wants Apple to either issue a dividend or buy back shares.
Number of countries that have a gross domestic product of less than $76.2 billion. They include Costa Rica, Ecuador, Bulgaria, and Sri Lanka. "It's sort of a silly comparison," says Bryan Chaffin at The Mac Observer. "GDP doesn’t equate to corporate cash on hand... A company's annual revenues are a better comparison to a country's GDP."
Apple's revenue for the last four quarters
Vietnam's GDP for 2010, ranking it 56th amongst the world's countries
Size of Microsoft Corp.'s cash stockpile
Size of Google Inc.'s cash stockpile
$70 to $200 billion
Estimated valuation of Facebook. "Apple should consider pouring every cent it has into the acquisition of Facebook," says Louis Bedigian in Forbes. It's not cheap, and it's likely Apple doesn't have enough cash to acquire it whole, but the "website is enormous, influential, and has a worldwide presence unlike any other."
Over $2 billion
Estimated value of the the online video service Hulu, which Apple is rumored to be considering purchasing. "Hulu would add a new element to their arsenal from a streaming and subscription standpoint," says analyst Brian Marshall, as quoted at Bloomberg
Amount of Apple's biggest purchase of a company to date. In 1996, it bought NeXT Software Inc., returning Steve Jobs to the fold.
Amount Apple paid in June for patents belonging to Nortel Networks Corp. The patents are seen as huge assets in the smartphone and tablet wars. Apple bought them as part of a consortium that included Microsoft, Sony, and RIM and paid $4.5 billion total. Notably absent from the gang: Google.
Amount Google had previously offered for the Nortel patents. Google's bid was dwarfed by the consortium. It's "under attack by many companies since the success of its Android OS," says Nancy Gohring at PC World.
About $361 billion
Apple's current market cap, making it the second largest company in the world
About $196 billion
Google's current market cap
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s valuation, making it the world's biggest publicly traded company. Many think Apple can overtake it by year's end, says Cromwell Schubarth in the Sacramento Business Journal.