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Apple now hoards 10% of US corporate cash

Wednesday, 2 Oct 2013 | 12:39 AM ET
The Apple iPhone 5C at an Apple Store in Palo Alto, Calif.
Getty Images
The Apple iPhone 5C at an Apple Store in Palo Alto, Calif.

Apple's $147 billion cash pile accounts for 10 percent of overall cash held by U.S. corporates, according to Moody's Investors Service, up from 9.5 percent at the end of 2012.

U.S. corporates held a total of $1.48 trillion in cash as of 30 June 2013, up 2 percent from the previous record $1.45 trillion at the end of 2012. The survey covers 1,067 non-financial companies based in the U.S. and rated by Moody's.

(Read more: Companies spending cash on investors, not workers)

The technology sector is the most cash-flush of all industries, with the top four cash kings - Apple, Microsoft, Google, Cisco - holding a collective $329 billion.

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Yet Apple's cash hoard is almost double that of Microsoft, for example, which has $77 billion.

(Read more: Value investor Bill Miller on Apple and Microsoft stock)

Apple has been active in returning cash to shareholders over the past 18 months. In April, the company pledged to spend $60 billion in buying back its stock by the end of 2015. By June, it had re-purchased $16 billion worth of its stock.

However, investors including billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn believe the company should do more. Icahn revealed on Tuesday that he had dinner with Apple CEO Tim Cook and urged him to increase its stock buyback program.

Icahn said in August that if Apple would issue a larger share buyback, the stock could be worth as much as $700 a share. Apple shares traded at $487.96 on Tuesday.

(Read more: Apple shareholders cross fingers for bigger buyback)

Cash not confined to techs

After the technology sector, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry is the next most cash-flush sector, according to Moodys. Pfizer, for example, is sitting on a $50 billion cash pile.

Automakers are also among the most cash-rich, with Ford Motor and General Motors holding $27.7 billion and $26 billion, respectively.

By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani; Follow her on Twitter @Ansuya_H

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