Map & Data Resources

Biggest U.S. corporations: Still hoarding cash

Map & Data Resources | By Brandon Storm |

Sept. 17, 2014 — We thought it was time to take another look at how much money large U.S. corporations are not investing back into the economy. Remapping Debate examined the relevant quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filings of the 100 largest corporations by revenue as ranked by the Fortune 500 in 2014 (looking only at publicly-held corporations, and excluding those in the financial sector). We looked at filing data for the period closest to June 30th in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2006, and 2000.

The results are available to you in the data viz below, with each of three numbers calculated as a percentage of total assets for each of the five years: cash and cash equivalents (CCE) separately, short-term investments separately, and CCE and short-term investments combined (for 15 companies in 2000, comparable data were not available). All data are adjusted to inflation and reported in 2014 dollars.

Looking at the 65 companies that made the list throughout the period we examined, their aggregate total CCE and short-term investments rose to $743.3 billion in 2014 from $473.3 billion in 2000. The aggregate of these types of assets as a percentage of the total assets of these companies rose to 12.8 percent from 9.9 percent.

In 2014, combined CCE and short-term investments represented more than 20 percent of total assets for 12 corporations. There were notable differences between and among industries. Energy companies, for example, tended to have a relatively low percentage of assets represented by CCE and short-term investments.

There was much more variation in the health care field (for example, Humana’s CCE and short-term investments represented 39.6 percent of total assets whereas Hospital Corporation of America’s CCE and short-term investments represented only 2.2 percent of total assets).

Just looking at CCE (excluding short-term investements), General Electric led the way in raw dollar terms in 2014 at $86.6 billion (up from $21.8 billion in 2000).

The viz allows you to sort companies by their relative Fortune 500 rank; by the dollar amount of their CCE, short-term investments, or CCE and short-term investments combined; and by the percentage of total assets represented by CCE, short-term investments, or CCE and short-term investments combined. All figures have been inflation-adjusted to 2014 dollars.

You can also switch between a 2014, 2013, 2012, 2006, and 2000 view.

Important wrinkle in respect to Caterpillar, Kroger, Target, and Valero: in one or more years, one or more of these companies did not disaggregate their CCE amount from their short-term investment amount. In each such case, we attributed all of the non-differentiated amount to CCE (thereby likely overstating CCE and understating short-term investments). In each affected year, short-term investments are listed as “not available” (and are reflected on the pie chart as an undifferentiated portion of CCE). For the short-term investment sorts, affected companies are listed at the bottom. For CCE sorts, however, the affected companies are listed as they would be if all CCE and short-term investments were properly attributed to CCE, thereby potentially skewing the rankings. This issue has no impact on the rankings for CCE and short-term investments combined. 

Note: when you change views, neither the pie chart nor the dollar and percentage values change to the first-listed company; you must manually click on a company name to refresh the data. Please also review these important notes.


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