Google parent Alphabet has dethroned Apple as the world’s cash king after a decade of dominance

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  • Google parent company Alphabet has overtaken Apple as the company with the most cash on hand.
  • Alphabet had $117 billion in financial reserves at the end of the most recent quarter, while Apple had $102 billion.
  • Both companies have come under pressure recently to deploy their massive cash holdings.
  • Read more on Markets Insider.

After holding the title for more than a decade, Apple has been dethroned as the king of cash by Alphabet.

The Google parent’s holdings of cash and marketable securities, net of debt, topped $117 billion in the most recent quarter. That exceeded Apple’s recently reported cash pile of $102 billion, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the shift.

Apple used to have $163 billion in cash on hand, but has made an active effort recently to reduce its stockpile. The iPhone maker first came under fire for its massive reserves from activist investor Carl Icahn six years ago.

Many investors don’t want companies to hold on to large amounts of liquid assets. They instead prefer that companies use that money to buy back stock or pay shareholder dividends.

Alphabet has also faced scrutiny for holding on to so much cash, especially following the GOP tax plan in 2017, which imposed an immediate tax on overseas cash holdings for US companies. In addition, Alphabet has been hit with 8.2 billion euros in antitrust fines in the EU over the last two years.

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Apple responded to backlash about its cash by increasing buybacks by $122 billion and paying out dividends over the last 18 months. It also bumped up its research and development spending by 15% in the last quarter to its highest level in 18 years.

In contrast, Alphabet has been holding more money in its financial reserves and spending it trying to break into new markets. It’s also spent $25 billion in the last year on real estate, buying multiple Google office spaces in New York and building data centers for its cloud computing business.

And while Alphabet has spent little on stock buybacks, that may soon change. The company’s board just approved adding $25 billion to its stock repurchase program. Since the beginning of the year, the company has been authorized to repurchase $37.5 billion of its own stock.