Apple is the fastest growing company in the S&P 500. Also, given the size of the company and the pace of it’s growth, the S&P 500 would have next to no earnings growth without it.
Many would say Apple also is one of the strongest company growth stories, ever. Of course, Apple also has $100 billion in free cash, and that pile seems to grow with each passing quarter.
Naturally, there are growing questions about what Apple should do about that cash hoard. Some say Apple should start paying a dividend. Others would say that is the worst thing Apple could do. It is a growth company, not a “value” play. Those characteristics draw different kinds of investors.
Some would argue Apple has to remain focused on growth. In an uncertain environment, that cash is vital, many would argue. And though Apple has no history of making large acquisitions, it always is possible that Apple eventually will find itself facing growth challenges that require significant cash.
Some of us might argue that content acquisition is one such example. Eventually, somebody will “crack the code” on video streaming, and disrupt the existing video entertainment business. But that is almost certainly going to require ownership, control or at least access to the key sources of programming that represent value for millions of potential customers.
So far, no contestant with the ability and willingness to disrupt the business has had such access. And money is the key. To be sure, we have been hearing about “interactive,” or “on-demand,” or Internet delivery of TV for decades.
But that’s the thing about really-big changes in a technology-based business. They often take time. And it is quite common for an important innovation to build very slowly at first, then reach an inflection point where change is more rapid than most expect, especially given the slow ramp up.
Some might argue that Apple will need much of that cash to disrupt the TV business, even as it continues to insist it simply is a partner in that business.