Large American Companies Amassing Cash, Hesitant to Spend

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Many of the largest U.S. companies are "richer than ever," according to a report from Moody's. Of the 1,600 companies rated by Moody's, there was an 11.2% increase in cash held year-over-year. But the real question is: Why aren't companies spending?

Google demonstrated their wealth earlier this week, with their bold plan to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion cash -- a large sum, but only a fraction of their $35 billion-plus cash reserve. Unfortunately this scale of investment has become rare.

"The bottom line is that a large number of very successful U.S. companies are on a wait-and-see mode with the U.S. economy in particular," Dartmouth Business Professor Anant Sundaram told NPR.

At the end of 2010, Apple, Microsoft, and Cisco had each amassed over $40 billion cash. Why are companies sitting on this cash?

With interest rates so low, it is very cheap to borrow money and hold off paying down debts. But companies are also simply resistant to investment and rehiring, because the U.S. economy isn't growing enough to supply the demand.

The bright side is that, when the economy does pick up, these companies will likely use this cash to reinvest (hopefully in the U.S.).

Here we report a list of companies with fast growth in operating cash flows, measured by the ratio free operating cash flow/revenue. Do you think these companies will benefit more than most from the economic recovery?

Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis. List sorted by market cap. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. Vale (NAS: VALE) : Industrial Metals & Minerals Industry. Market cap of $144.91B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.14 vs. five-year average at 0.06. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 5.98% below its SMA20, 8.57% below its SMA50, and 12.62% below its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 10.55% over the last week. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 13.65%.

2. Philip Morris International (NYS: PM) : Cigarettes Industry. Market cap of $121.30B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.07 vs. five-year average at 0.03. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 6.41% over the last week.

3. Bank of America (NYS: BAC) : Regional Banks Industry. Market cap of $75.73B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 1.04 vs. five-year average at 0.46. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.23). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 10.19% over the last week. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 22.05%.

4. Visa (NYS: V) : Business Services Industry. Market cap of $68.61B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.35 vs. five-year average at 0.10. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.94% over the last week.

5. Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYS: BMY) : Drug Manufacturers Industry. Market cap of $48.63B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.10 vs. 5-year average at 0.02. Offers a good dividend, and appears to have good liquidity to back it up -- dividend yield at 4.63%, current ratio at 1.99, and quick ratio at 1.79. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 7.75% over the last week.

6. CVS Caremark (NYS: CVS) : Drug Stores Industry. Market cap of $46.24B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.04 vs. five-year average at 0.01. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 7.24% over the last week.

7. Union Pacific (NYS: UNP) : Railroads Industry. Market cap of $44.87B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.08 vs. five-year average at 0.02. The stock has gained 23.1% over the last year.

8. US Bancorp (NYS: USB) : Regional Banks Industry. Market cap of $43.09B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.52 vs. five-year average at 0.21. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 8.83% below its SMA20, 8.98% below its SMA50, and 12.37% below its SMA200. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 10.39%.

9. Apache (NYS: APA) : Independent Oil & Gas Industry. Market cap of $42.92B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.13 vs. five-year average at 0.07. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 6.11% over the last week. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 16.48%.

10. Goldcorp (NYS: GG) : Gold Industry. Market cap of $41.35B. TTM free operating cash flow/revenue at 0.08 vs. five-year average at 0.01. The stock has gained 20.98% over the last year.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


Kapitall's Alexander Crawford does not own any of the shares mentioned above Free operating cash flow/revenue data sourced from Screener.co, all other data sourced from Finviz.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Microsoft, Apple, and Philip Morris International. The Fool owns shares of and has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Cisco Systems, Visa, Philip Morris International, Apple, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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