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Debt-Free, Cash-Rich Companies

Throughout the financial crisis, large debt loads weighed on company balance sheets and had serious implications for the firms that let their borrowing get out of control.

Other companies, however, have a history of operating with low debt levels, and many choose to issue no debt at all. Instead of debt, these companies hold cash and short-term, highly liquid assets in order to make acquisitions and fund other investments in future growth.

According to the latest quarterly filings, only 22 companies in the S&P 500 reported having zero debt on their balance sheets. Of these companies, CNBC’s Analyst Giovanny Moreano selected the ones with the largest amount of cash and short-term investments as a percent of total assets. The average return for the top 15 firms in the past year stands at 15 percent, compared with a gain of 2 percent for the S&P 500.

So, which S&P 500 companies are debt free and cash rich? Click ahead to find out.

By Giovanny Moreano&Paul Toscano
Posted 25 Jan 2012

Note: Total debt includes the sum of short-term borrowings, current portion of long-term debt, current portion of capital leases, long-term debt, capital leases, current finance division debt and non-current finance division debt, but does not include all possible liabilities. Cash holdings do not include long-term investments.

Data source: SEC Filings, Capital IQ and Thomson Reuters  || Photo: Shutterstock