The Wall Street Journal reported today that at the end of March, non-financial companies in the U.S. were sitting on $1.84 trillion in cash and other liquid assets, up 26% from a year earlier, as per the Federal Reserve. In May, 43% of U.S. corporations had larger U.S. cash and short-term investments than six months earlier, according to a survey of 337 senior finance and treasury executives by the Association for Financial Professionals. Now, some corporate leaders are starting to dip into their coffers, seizing the chance to make favorably priced acquisitions and expand and upgrade facilities. "Our cash is piling up, and we're looking at the capital to fuel growth going forward," said Boudewijn Beerkens, chief financial officer of Wolters Kluwer NV.
In early July, I commented on the growing cash balances of technology companies. Instead of buying back their stock or returning it to shareholders in the form of a dividend, they are spending it on acquisitions. It is these types of investments that will drive shareholder value. Many tech companies have scaled back their research and development expenditures these past two or three years and they are finding themselves behind their competition. They realize they are at an inflection point either acquire the technology they need now, or suffer potential losses of market share to competition while they try to build and catch up. Im interested in seeing who gains and who loses ground among the big tech players.