Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Earlier this week we noted that as a whole, the S&P 500 is likely to report a huge increase in cash for third-quarter 2017—an average of $3.71 billion per filer as of Nov. 6, an increase of 14.9 percent from the year-ago period.

Wow, we thought. Where is all that cash coming from?

Our first post only looked at cash piles on average, and for the S&P 500 as a whole. So today we decided to crack open the world-famous Calcbench Multi-Company Database, to research cash holdings among specific companies, and see which ones need to visit the bank via armored car.

First, here are the top 10 filers so far, ranked by cash holdings in third-quarter 2017:

OK, lots of financial firms on the list; that’s not terribly surprising. But look at some of the non-financial firms on that list. AT&T, increasing its cash from $5.9 billion one year ago to $48.5 billion today! Qualcomm, jumping from $5.9 billion to $35 billion!

Companies like those suggest a better place to look: at those filers that experienced the biggest increase in cash, from Q3 2016 to Q3 2017. So we measured the delta in cash from 2016 to 2017, and ranked the 10 with the biggest dollar increases.

Those 10 companies alone increased their cash piles by $148.3 billion. They also span a wide range of industries, always a good sign for macroeconomic health overall.

Lastly, we calculated the percentage increase in cash from Q3 2016 toQ3 2017, by dividing the delta into Q3 2016 cash holdings. When you rank companies again by largest percentage increase, the top 10 are these:

For the record, as of Nov. 8, we had 400 companies in the S&P 500 that had filed their Q3 2017 reports, so we could do the year-over-year comparison. Of those 400, 201 companies reported an increase in cash holdings, at an average of $1.23 billion. The other 199 had a decrease in cash, with an average drop of $1.24 billion.

And, of course, if you want to dive more deeply into specific companies that reported big cash increases, to see what events led to that number, you can always visit our Interactive Disclosure database to pore through the company’s footnotes. The answer is likely in there somewhere.

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