Some Shocking Perspectives on Apple's Cash Stash

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A recent report in MarketWatch claimed that if Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) doesn't change its ideas towards dividends or buybacks, or finds something else to do with its cash, by the end of 2013 it could reach $170 billion.

According to Moody's, "Unless Apple changes its philosophy towards liquidity/shareholder returns by increasing its $10 billion annual common dividend, or if Apple increases it stock buyback program, we estimate Apple's cash balances could increase by another $35 billion in 2013 and exceed $170 billion,"

Wall Street has a way of taking a piece of information and talking it to death. By now, investors have heard about Apple's cash position but for most people, wrapping their head around the size of it is difficult. People don't have 170 billion of anything so here's some perspective.

First, there is no company even close to having as much cash as Apple. Number two on the list is Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) who has $68.3 billion. (Yes, Apple has twice as much) Number three is Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) with $48.1 billion, and then Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) with $46.9 billion. Finally, rounding out the top five is Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO ) with $46.4 billion.

Let's look at the enormity of $170 billion.

If Apple were to use all of its projected cash to purchase Ford (NYSE: F ) Explorers, it could buy 5,841,924. That's one for every citizen in the state of Wisconsin.

If sports is Apple's thing, it could build 148 Dallas Cowboy Stadiums , without the scoreboard hanging so low that footballs hit it.

If it wanted to take on a humanitarian cause, the cash could feed every hungry person in the world three basic meals per day for 245 days based on the most recent statistics .

The real estate market is rebounding. Maybe Apple wants to put its cash to work like many other investors by purchasing homes and becoming landlords. The company could buy 850,000 homes with its cash, based on a value of $200,000.

But maybe something more traditional like M&A is a better way to use the cash. Here's a small list of the notable companies Apple could write a check for if it reaches $170 billion based only on market cap.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD ) Citigroup (NYSE: C ) Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) BP (NYSE: BP ) Visa (NYSE: V )

Finally, if it wanted to provide a top-of-the-line iPad to the masses, two thirds of all United States citizens would find a nice surprise in their mailbox.

Convinced yet? $170 billion is a lot of cash!

(Disclaimer: these are estimates based on general assumptions. As everybody knows, nothing on Wall Street is this simple.)

(c) 2013 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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