Tim Cook: CEO of His Own Country?

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) has the wrong logo. The partially bitten fruit shouldn't gleam white or silver. It should be green. A deep, dark shade of green for the $97 billion in cash and net investments that existed on its balance sheet as of Dec. 31.

The Mac maker rivals an ATM for its cash-producing prowess, in some cases dwarfing rivals. Consider:

  • Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) produced $19 billion in adjusted cash flows over the past 12 months.
  • IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) generated nearly $12 billion over the same period.
  • Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) topped $11 billion.
  • Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) took in more than $8.5 billion.

All four except for Microsoft badly trailed the $20.9 billion Apple produced, as tracked by S&P Capital IQ.

But it gets better. If you take Apple's net worth -- i.e., total assets minus total liabilities -- and place it on a list of world countries ranked by gross domestic product, you get a perhaps unsurprisingly strong result:

Country Rank 2010 GDP/Net Worth
Vietnam 58 $103.60 billion
Morocco 59 $103.50 billion
Puerto Rico Unranked $93.52 billion
Apple Unranked $90.05 billion
Slovakia 60 $87.45 billion
Angola 61 $85.31 billion
Iraq 62 $82.15 billion
Libya 63 $74.23 billion
Sudan + South Sudan 64 $68.44 billion
Croatia 65 $60.59 billion

Sources: CIA World Factbook via Wikipedia

Impressive, if creepy, company, wouldn't you say? Apple under Tim Cook has the financial heft of crooked regimes once run by oil-soaked dictators deemed so awful they had to be overthrown.

In another sense the comparison does fit. Cook has long since justified the late Steve Jobs' faith in him as CEO. The Mac maker's fearsome cash generation only hammers home that point while leaving one massively important question unanswered: Can anything, or anyone, stop Apple?

It's a big question, but the world is also a big place and Apple isn't the only American enterprise on a tear right now. The Motley Fool recently released a new report profiling three more U.S. companies set to dominate the global market. It's yours free, but only for a limited time, so take a look today.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and IBM at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

Editor's note: After reviewing reader comments and giving it further consideration, we have revised the headline to this story.

The Motley Fool owns shares of International Business Machines, Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Microsoft; creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft; and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 25, 2012, at 10:55 PM, sawchain wrote:

    This article is in very bad taste.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2012, at 9:25 AM, K919 wrote:

    Poorly written and uninformative, and downright misleading. The headline is cheap bait to get clicks on your site.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2012, at 10:47 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    Thanks for the comments, I do appreciate it.

    You'll have to forgive me if I continue to throw in cheeky articles with the more serious stuff. We aim to amuse as well as educate.

    Foolish best,



    Tim Beyers

    TMFMileHigh, Motley Fool Rule Breakers Analyst


  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2012, at 11:13 AM, Zankudo wrote:

    You should stick to analysis because your knowledge of the countries is poor unless you exaggerated for effect. Croatia, PR, Slovakia, and Iraq are all democracies although Iraq might be questionable. However the others do not sport dictators. And even if they do as in Vietnam, they still operate by free market a point. So the article isn't cheeky...jowly might be more apropos.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2012, at 1:41 PM, Truth2Power wrote:

    I was hoping for (and expecting) an article about his management style. If I have one complaint about TMF, it's misleading headlines like this one. Sorry, Tim.

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2012, at 2:00 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:


    No need to apologize Criticism is always fair ball -- part of the game.

    Thanks and Foolish best,



    Tim Beyers

    TMFMileHigh, Motley Fool Rule Breakers Analyst


  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2012, at 3:53 PM, sikiliza wrote:

    Provocative headline in really bad taste. This stuff was presented so much better in the the blog below and without the misleading title

  • Report this Comment On January 26, 2012, at 7:09 PM, racchole wrote:

    I would love for all the negative-comment posters to live a few days in the life of a journalist, and see what kind of quality articles they produce day in and day out.

    If you don't like 'em, don't read 'em. And certainly DON'T waste your time with useless criticism in the comments section.

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