Apple now has more cash than the U.K. and Canada, combined!

The iPhone maker’s $250 billion nest egg fuels speculation. Will it do more R&D? Invest in the cloud? Make a big acquisition?

Apple has long been known keeping a big rainy day fund. But according to Lee Pinkowitz, a Georgetown University professor of finance quoted in the Wall Street Journal, “they’re saving for a millennial flood."

The numbers are truly astonishing. The company has some $250 billion—a quarter of a trillion!—in cash, cash equivalents, and short- and long-term securities, including corporate paper, U.S. Treasury bond and money-market funds, the Journal said. Add it up, and it’s more than the total foreign-currency reserves held by many countries— including plenty of pretty big countries, like Mexico and Indonesia. In fact, as the Journal notes, it’s more than the foreign reserves of the U.K. and Canada … combined.

On the corporate side, it’s more than the market value of AT&T or Verizon, Wal-Mart or Procter & Gamble, Visa or Comcast, Oracle or Disney. (It’s not near enough to buy Google, Amazon, Microsoft or Facebook, though.)

Sure, Apple also has some $88 billion in debt, but even that astronomical amount seems like chump change next to the asset stockpile.

What might Apple spend its billions on?

Apple holds most of this treasure outside the United States, and Trump’s proposed changes to U.S. corporate tax rates is fueling speculation that the company may finally move some of those dollars onshore.

In fact, most observers seem to agree that Apple has more money in the bank than it could possibly need, and everyone seems to have an idea about the best ways to spend it. Suggestions include: 

  • Pay down debt—Sure, but what do you with the rest of the cash?
  • Investor dividends or stock buybacks—Some folks want a special one-time dividend, while others want to grow dividend payments over time.
  • More advertising—The company now spends far less than many of its competitors.
  • More R&D—Apple has boosted spending in this area, but $250 billion could buy a lot of innovation and possibly quiet some of the complaints that the company hasn’t had a hit new category in a while.
  • Build its own giant manufacturing plant in the U.S.—That would make Donald Trump happy.
  • Invest in building a world class-cloud computing operation—The cloud is hot, Apple’s offerings are less than stellar, and Apple vs. Amazon would be a be a battle for the ages.
  • Big acquisitions—Over the years, companies mentioned as targets for Apple buyouts include everything from Netflix to Tesla to Verizon or AT&T or a studio like Disney or Lions Gate or a music streaming service like Pandora.

Really, though, Apple has enough money to do almost anything and everything it wants. And a multi-prong approach is the most likely outcome. 

Apple no doubt wants to keep a healthy sum in the cookie jar, and it will likely make nice with shareholders one way or another. As for building its own manufacturing capacity, don’t count on it—the numbers simply don’t add up. But I wouldn’t rule out at least one headline-grabbing acquisition big enough to dwarf its $3 billion purchase of Beats back in 2014, which I still consider a head-scratcher

On the other hand, if Apple really wanted to, it could practically give every adult American $1,000. I’ll take mine in nice crisp hundreds.

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