What to do with Apple's $15 billion in cash: Try nothing

Apple has $15.4 billion in cash lying around and folks are wondering what it should do with it.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Apple has $15.4 billion in cash lying around and folks are wondering what it should do with it. Technology companies--at least the good ones--traditionally hoard cash and eventually shareholders want something (dividend, mergers and the like).

Fortune tosses out the idea that Apple should go on a spending spree. Buy Tivo! Peter Kafka at Silicon Alley Insider notes that perhaps Apple (see Apple Core blog) should buy a music label or movie studio.

Here's a thought: Do nothing.

Cash stockpiles only become an issue when the growth slows down. And at last check growth is the least of Apple's worries. Why distract yourself with acquisitions? And why would Apple want to enter the music business? The way things are going a big band could sign a deal with Apple anyway. Ask Madonna and LiveNation. Ask the Eagles and Wal-Mart. It makes no sense for Apple to buy a business that's irrelevant in the first place.

Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make. And there's no reason for Apple to do much with its $15.4 billion. I suppose it could do something crazy and try and develop an alternative to coal-generated power, but it's out of character.

The demands on Apple to give up some of its dough will rise again. But these questions won't be a big deal until Apple's growth slows--and I don't see much on the horizon to make that happen. Investors will gladly let Apple keep its $15.4 billion as long as it keeps up the growth--in the fourth quarter the company's revenue was up 29 percent from a year ago.

Thoughts or suggestions on what Apple should do with its money are appreciated.

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