Talk Money: March 29, 2016

Tony Field (Paul Henry)
Tony Field (Paul Henry)

Some of the world's biggest companies have massive piles of spare cash, far more than they know what to do with.

MarketWatch reports that the top five cashed up companies are dominated by tech names.

The fifth biggest hoarder of cash is Cisco Systems, with NZ$96 billion. That is almost half of its total market valuation.

Next up is Alphabet (Google) which has cash and bonds worth NZ$119 billion. That is despite Google buying about one company a week.

Sitting at third is Microsoft. It has cash and bonds worth NZ $170 billion. That is about 25 percent of its market value.

General Electric has reserves of around NZ$185 billion. That is almost half of the company's total value.

The company with the biggest cash pile is Apple. It is sitting on around NZ$323 billion - a third of its total value.

It used to be that companies would reinvest their spare cash, or pay it out to investors in dividends. But over the past 15 years more and more companies have opted to save the cash.

The reasons are varied. Some are saving it for tougher times. There are tax gains to be made for US companies by holding onto the money. In some cases management wants to have the cash so it is ready to invest in the next big thing.