In a review of disclosures, the bank’s analysts found that out of the $974 billion in cash on the balance sheets of 602 U.S. multinationals, at least $588 billion, or 60%, is sitting in foreign accounts.
According to a study by JP Morgan (yes, that JP Morgan), at least 60% of the cash balances of the largest U.S. companies is being held overseas. While offshoring comes as little shock to anyone following the transgressions of U.S. corporations, the degree of this revelation is striking:
J.P. Morgan found that Apple had the highest offshore corporate cash balance, with $74 billion held overseas, representing 67% of its total cash holdings. But as a percentage of total cash, J.P. Morgan said the company had a smaller amount sitting offshore than many of its tech rivals, including Microsoft, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard, which had 89% or more of their cash overseas.
Microsoft, General Electric, Cisco Systems, Google, and Oracle had the next largest dollar amounts of cash held overseas, according to the study. The analysts also found that Johnson & Johnson and Hewlett-Packard appear to have almost all of their cash holdings in overseas accounts.
Companies don’t disclose their overseas cash balances in a uniform way, so the bank used estimates based on corporate disclosures in some cases.
The Wall Street Journal suggests that heightened pressure is leading to more transparency though the information remains largely incomplete.