Despite weaker topline revenue, U.S. corporations’ cash hoard grew by 9.2% in 2016, according to Moody’s Investors Service Inc.
The credit-rating agency reports that U.S. non-financial companies held a combined US$1.84 trillion in cash at the end of 2016, up from US$1.68 trillion at the start of the year.
The rise in cash holdings comes despite an overall decline in revenue and cash flow from operations, which were down 5.3% and 5.8%, respectively, in 2016, Moody’s reports. This top line weakness reflects, “a low-growth global economic environment, still-challenging conditions in the energy, metals, and mining industries, and modest foreign-exchange headwinds.”
Yet, corporate cash continued to grow, as capital spending declined by 18% during the year, acquisition spending fell by 2%, share buybacks dropped by 21%, and dividend payments decreased 4.5%.
Moody’s reports that the technology sector continues to lead the way in cash holdings, accounting for the top five cash hoarders and 47% of the overall total. The overall leader, Apple Inc., had a record cash pile of US$246.1 billion, or 13.4% of the total. Health care/pharmaceuticals, consumer products and energy follow the tech sector.
Moody’s also estimates that 70% of the cash is being held overseas, which is down from 72% in 2015.