Forget factories, most companies plan to use their overseas cash to pay down debts

In pushing for the tax law Congress passed last year, President Trump and other supporters argued it would encourage companies to take the cash they’d stashed overseas and use it to open factories and hire workers in the US. While some may end up doing that – Apple suggested Wednesday, for example, it would use some of its foreign stash to expand its data centres and open a new campus – most expect to do something a little less exciting with their overseas money, most notably, pay down debts.

As illustrated by this chart from Statista – which is based on data from Bank of America Merrill Lynch – when it comes to how the biggest corporations plan to spend their overseas cash, capital expenditures, which represent investments in things like new equipment and new buildings, are a distant fourth on their priority lists, trailing not only debt repayment, but buying back their own shares and purchasing other companies.

It’s unclear where Apple stands on the issue. Since 2012, the iPhone maker has accrued $US97 billion in debt, which represents nearly half of the amount of overseas cash it will have left after it pays taxes on its stash. But the company notably omitted debt repayment when talking Wednesday about how it might use its foreign funds.

Chart of the dayStatista

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