One thing that staggers the mind is the amount of money Apple has on hand. During last Tuesday's 3Q earnings call, it was announced that the company has US$76.2 billion cash on hand -- actually a combination of cash, short-term investments, and other items that would take an accountant to sort out. While Apple CEO Steve Jobs has publicly stated that "we do feel that there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future" as the reason to have all that money on hand, I thought it would be more fun to think about ways to spend $76.2 billion on frivolous things.
Buy a fleet of 203 A-380 jumbo jets
At a price tag of $375.3 million each, the huge A-380 (top of post) can carry up to 525 people in a standard class configuration. Apple's airline could simultaneously carry almost 107,000 people at a time, or over two times the number of employees the company has. This purchase would take a long time to happen, considering that only 53 of the monster jets have been built.
Give an iPad 2 (16 GB Wi-Fi) to every person in Japan and Taiwan
You could buy 152.7 million iPads with $76.2 billion, which means every man, woman, and child in the two Asian countries listed here could have an iPad 2 and there would still be some bucks left over. (Why those two countries? I needed two countries with a combined population of about 150 million.)
Treat every Apple employee to seven flights into space
That Genius at the local Apple Store is already the envy of many, but wouldn't it be even more impressive if she was also an astronaut? Beginning next year, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is offering suborbital space flights on SpaceShip Two for $200,000 a pop. Apple has enough money to send every employee on seven SpaceShip Two flights each and still have money left over. Sir Richard might need to beef up his fleet a bit...
By a strange coincidence, HP's market capitalization just happened to be around $76.1 billion on 7/22/11. Here's a chance to put the TouchPad out to pasture, kill the Pre, and make printers that really work well with Apple devices.
Turn Cupertino into Fort Knox West
Gold prices were at an all-time high of $1,600 per ounce on Friday, but Apple could buy a lot of the stuff -- 2,976,562.5 pounds (1,350,146.0 kilograms). That's about a third of what's stored in the United States Bullion Repository in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Buy every MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA franchise
Now this would be very frivolous, but Apple could buy every professional baseball ($15.7 billion), football ($22.8 billion), hockey ($4.9 billion) and basketball ($7.7 billion) team in the USA and still have about $25 billion in change.
The reality is that Apple isn't going to do any of these things. The company is using its large cash reserves to expand in the midst of a worldwide recession, and that's what it should be doing. Apple doesn't pay shareholder dividends; if shareholders want to benefit from Apple's good business acumen, they can sell shares and probably make a decent profit. And like it or not, the company is not in business for charity -- they're in business to create jobs for employees and value for shareholders.
Like I noted in the first paragraph of this post, Apple also has some strategic acquisitions in mind. Of course, we have no idea what those acquisitions could be, but whatever they do will most likely help the company in terms of achieving even more amazing financial feats in the future.