This article originally appeared on the Motley Fool.
Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) has a stockpile of nearly $100 billion in cash on its balance sheet, and is actively searching for ways to use it. With that in mind, and to get investors to appreciate the sheer enormity of this amount of money, let’s take a look at some companies with market values less than Berkshire’s current spending power.
How much cash does Berkshire Hathaway have?
In its first-quarter earnings report, Berkshire revealed that it holds about $96.5 billion in cash and equivalents such as Treasury securities, the most the company has ever held.
Furthermore, it’s important to point out that Berkshire’s cash hoard is much more usable than the cash stockpiles of many other companies, as virtually all of it is held in the United States. For example, Apple recently reported a staggering $256.8 billion cash hoard, but the vast majority of is held overseas, and would therefore be subject to hefty repatriation taxes if the company were to bring it home to use for an acquisition. So, for the moment at least, it doesn’t represent as much purchasing power as it seems.
On the other hand, Berkshire could put its cash to work tomorrow fairly easily — and it would, if the right deal came along. Warren Buffett hates having assets in cash, especially in the current low-interest environment, and would love to use Berkshire’s cash to add value for shareholders.
What could Berkshire buy with its cash hoard
Now, Berkshire would never spend all of its cash. Buffett feels it’s very important to keep a significant amount of cash, in order to take care of any short-term needs Berkshire may have. He’s said several times that the absolute minimum level of cash he’d be comfortable with is $20 billion, which still gives a usable cash stockpile of $76.5 billion.
Just to put this amount of cash into perspective, consider what companies Berkshire could acquire in cash,…