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Q3 Cash Balance Reaches New High, Grows 7.6% to $1.5 Trillion


By Andrew Birstingl  |  December 21, 2016

The S&P 500 (Ex-Financials) cash and short-term investments balance (cash) amounted to $1.54 trillion at the end of the third quarter, which marked a 7.6% increase from the year-ago quarter and a 6.3% jump from Q2. The balance in Q3 represented the largest cash total in at least 10 years. The top 20 companies by cash balance made up 52.5% of the aggregate cash balance for the index. The percentage at the end of the third quarter was an increase from the percentage in the year-ago quarter (50.8%) and the percentage in Q2 (51.1%).

Microsoft and Alphabet Top Cash Balances for Fourth Consecutive Quarter    

At the company level, Microsoft and Alphabet topped the list of companies ranked by quarterly cash and short-term investments for the fourth consecutive quarter. Microsoft had a cash balance of $136.9 billion at the end of the third quarter and Alphabet had a balance of $83.1 billion.

The top five companies by cash totals were all part of the Information Technology sector (Microsoft, Alphabet, Cisco, Oracle, and Apple). If long-term investments were included in the company’s cash amount, then Apple and Microsoft would top the list with balances of $237.6 billion and $147.4 billion, respectively.

TTM Energy CapEx Marks Smallest Total Since Q3 2007

On a trailing 12-month basis, Energy CapEx amounted to $104.7 billion, which represented a 39.7% decrease from the same period a year ago. The TTM ending in Q3 marked the smallest CapEx total for the Energy group since Q3 2007. At the end of the third quarter, TTM fixed capital expenditures made up 17.5% of the aggregate amount for the S&P 500 (Ex-Financials) index, which was a significant decrease from the 33.1% for the period ending in Q3 2014.    

Excluding Energy, Aggregate CapEx Shows Growth

Excluding the Energy sector, capital expenditures for the index actually showed some growth. During the third quarter, fixed CapEx for the S&P 500 (Ex Financials & Energy) amounted to $127.9 billion, which represented a 1.1% increase from the year-ago quarter. It also marked the third largest quarterly CapEx total in the past 10 years. On a TTM basis, capital expenditures increased 2.4% year-over-year to $492.3 billion. The TTM period ending in Q3 marked largest fixed CapEx amount for the S&P 500 (Ex-Financials & Ex-Energy) index in at least 10 years. 

Read more of this quarter's trends in the full Cash and Investment Quarterly report.

Download the full Cash and Investment Quarterly report

Andrew Birstingl

Research Analyst


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