Since we were young, we've been taught the importance of saving money. Keep a piggy bank, store a little something for a rainy day, build up that 401(K).
If you're Apple, you have apparently taken that lesson to heart. Big time. As of Thursday morning, Apple reports a stockpile of cash that has reached $76 billion. That's nearly 16 percent more cash than it had three months ago, and, as the Wall Street Journal helpfully points out, is more than the Gross Domestic Product of 126 countries.
Now, Apple has earned all that cash -- it sells wildly popular products at very profitable margins. In what the rest of the country is calling an economic slowdown, Apple is clearly firing on all cylinders. But that much success inevitably leads to questions: What will Apple do with all that money?
Investors, naturally, would love to see a cash dividend. Apple (AAPL) is a mature company, and other mature companies, from Microsoft to Applied Materials, have been paying cash dividends to their shareholders. If you hold Apple stock, you're probably already very happy and satisfied, but still, $76 billion? That could not only reward current shareholders, but conceivably bring even more stockholders into the fold.
An Apple spokesperson would only say that the company is looking for "strategic opportunities" when it comes to using its cash. That's often code for buying more companies, growing its staff, and even building giant spaceship-like headquarters. All seem to be in Apple's future, along with lots of research to find the next killer products.
All probably good enough for shareholders. But $76 billion? That is one huge piggy bank.
Scott is not an Apple shareholder. He is on Twitter: @scottbudman