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S&P 500 Companies Are Spending More Cash Than Ever Before

S&P 500 Companies Are Spending More Cash Than Ever Before
  • Goldman Sachs projects record spending by S&P 500 companies in 2016.
  • The firm sees a near 50/50 split in spending between growth and capital returns.
  • S&P 500 stocks are now sitting on a record amount of cash in terms of total assets.

In a new report, Goldman Sachs analyst David Kostin looks at the record amount of cash on S&P 500 balance sheets and the record amount of spending that companies will be doing in 2016. Kostin believes that companies will be putting their cash to work at unprecedented levels next year.

The Numbers

Goldman projects that S&P 500 companies will spend $2.2 trillion in 2016, up 5 percent from 2015 spending levels. The latest numbers show that S&P 500 can certainly afford to be big spenders right now, as they currently hold more than $1.5 trillion in cash (ex-Financials).

The S&P 500 cash/asset ratio now sits at over 11.0 percent, its all-time high.

Goldman predicts that 54 percent of 2016 S&P 500 spending will be growth-driven spending such as capex, R&D and M&A spending. The other 46 percent of 2016 spending will be capital return spending in the form of dividends and buybacks.

Capital Returns Will Continue To Outperform

According to Kostin, stocks of companies with aggressive cash return spending programs will continue to outperform in 2016. “We expect high cash return strategies to outperform given modest GDP growth, low rates, and slim equity returns,” he explained.

Goldman is projecting $1 trillion in buybacks and dividends from S&P 500 companies in 2016, up 7 percent from 2015 levels.

Big Spenders

Goldman Sachs selected 50 stocks out of the S&P 500 that have the largest combined realized buyback and dividend yields on a sector-neutral basis to make up its Total Cash Return basket. Here are the five stocks in Goldman’s basket with the highest total yield (dividends plus buybacks):

1. KLA-Tencor Corp (NASDAQ: KLAC) (30.4 percent)
2. Juniper Networks, Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) (21.7 percent)
3. Motorola Solutions Inc (NYSE: MSI) (19.9 percent)
4. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) (18.7 percent)
5. CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS) (17.0 percent)

Disclosure: the author holds no position in the stocks mentioned.


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