Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Company that Benefits the Most from Higher Interest Rates

Investors are afraid of higher rates. They are concerned that rising interest rates will make it harder to buy real estate, make it more expensive for companies to get and repay short-term loans, and make it difficult for consumers to make their credit card payments. So higher rates will adversely affect banks, REITs and utilities, and of course any companies that incur a lot of debt.

Most analysts say that pharmaceutical stocks and consumer staples are the best places to put your money during rising rates. But there is one stock that will benefit big time from higher interest that doesn't fall into either of these sectors. The stock is Apple Inc. (AAPL).

Why Apple? First of all, it has no long-term debt. Second, the company has a huge amount of cash. No wonder why I referred to Apple as a money market fund a few months ago. Although many articles report that it has about $51 billion in cash, that number includes $25.391 billion in what Apple's accountants consider long-term marketable securities. But Apple does have $11.261 billion in cash and cash equivalent securities plus $14.359 billion in short term marketable securities, for a total of $25.56 billion.

Apple's weighted average interest rate has been dropping for the last three years, as have rates in general, from 3.44% in 2008, to 1.43% in 2009, to 0.75% for the current year. Of the $25.56 billion in what is essentially cash, total income based on the 0.75% weighted rate is about $191.7 million.

If the rate increased to 3% and assuming the balance remains the same (but it should certainly increase), interest income on effective cash would rise to $766.8 million, and at 5%, the income would be $1.278 billion, or $1.18 in additional earnings per share, currently at $15.15 per share. This additional interest is a pre-tax number, but based on the company’s effective tax rate, additional earnings would still be close to a dollar a share.

Plus there are no other expenses incurred in generating this income. No salaries, no capital expenditures of manufacturing equipment, no purchase of raw materials, no office space rental, no nothing; just some electrons on a computer screen. Talk about easy money.

If you want to check out the lists of stocks which have a lot of cash, which can be downloaded, sorted, and updated, go to

Disclosure: Author owns AAPL.


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