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What Will Apple Do With Its Cash

By Mahyar Hashemi, Published: October 30th, 2008 5:08 PM CDT

Apple (AAPL) has no debt and its balance sheet shows cash and short-term investments totaling $24.5 billion.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the cash hoard gives the company "tremendous stability and the ability to invest our way through this downturn."

However, Apple has a history of hoarding its money.  In total, Apple has barely spent $1 billion on acquisitions since the company was founded in 1976.  similarly, the last time the company authorized a stock buyback was in July of 1999, when the company's board approved buying back $500 million of Apple's stock. The company has also not paid a stock dividend since 1995.

"I think cash is always king," Jobs said. "I think this economic downturn may present some extraordinary opportunities to companies that have cash."

Indeed.  But the question is what will Apple do in these unprecedented times.

Some analysts, like Toni Sacconaghi said Apple should use at least some of that money to buy back its shares.  But with a long history of not buying back its shares, that seems highly unlikely.

Rather, it's more likely Apple will spend its cash to increase earnings.  So look towards smaller companies hit by the current financial storm which Apple could benefit from consuming.  More specifically, look out for those already partnered with Apple.

I'll be looking into this carefully and will report back on ideas shortly.

Related: AAPL

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