Confused why AAPL is opting for the dividend recap route (as we predicted it would in January )? Simple: as the first chart below reminds us, as of December 31, nearly 70% of the company’s total cash, which has grown to a record $145 billion in the current quarter, was held offshore. This means that if AAPL wanted to repatriate this $100 billion or so in cash, it would have to pay Federal tax on it, amounting to dozens of billions in remittances to Uncle Sam as this is cash which AAPL does not have full access to for US based operations. Hence: it has opted to raise cash by issuing debt instead of repatriating its cash.
Which brings up an interesting point. As we have shown in the past, perhaps the one thing Tim Cook’s company has loathed more than anything in the past, is to pay taxes, which is why it has some of the most convoluted legal tax shelters imaginable. Indeed, in the current quarter, according to the company’s cash flow statement, a tiny $2.4 billion was paid in cash taxes. Putting this number in perspective, the company had an operating profit of $12.4 billion.
Or, cumulatively, since December 2008, AAPL has generated a grand total of $149 billion in operating profit, while paying just $21 billion in total taxes.
Is it apparent now why some $100 billion in Apple cash is not fully recourse to the company? Unless, of course, AAPL decides to follow Gerard Depardieu’s example, and run away into the tax-amnesty friendly steppes of Russia, where it will be free to do as it wishes with all of its cash…