Safety First: Top 10 S&P Companies With Zero Debt and Lots of Cash

In times of financial crisis, many companies find their balance sheets overloaded with debt. The last few years have been particularly harsh, and the latest quarterly filings showed only 22 companies in the S&P 500 index have zero debt on their balance sheets.

Of course, debt financing isn't always a bad thing. Most companies use some form of debt to finance their day-to-day operations. By doing so, a company can invest in new business opportunities without asking its shareholders for money.

Although there are many exceptions to the rule, it's usually the case that lower debt companies are less risky than higher debt companies. And if the market starts drifting lower, it's always good to have a couple of low-debt names among your holdings.

Debt-free, cash-rich companies
With that in mind, we took a look at CNBC's list of debt-free companies that also reported large amounts of cash and short-term investments as a percentage of total assets.

Cash and short-term investment are highly liquid assets that allow a company to make acquisitions and fund other investments in future growth. Having large quantities of cash also helps a company weather more difficult periods of financial trouble.

Business section: Investing ideas
A combination of low or no debt and high cash holdings can be powerful in times of financial hardship. That these companies have made it so far with a clean balance sheet is impressive indeed.

Do you think these companies will continue on this track? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) : Designs, manufactures, and markets personal computers, mobile communication and media devices, and portable digital music players, as well as sells related software, services, peripherals, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications worldwide. Market cap of $414.46B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $30.2 billion in cash and short term investments (and an additional $67.5 billion in long-term investments). Cash as % of assets: 22.3%.

2. Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) : Operates as an online retailer in North America and internationally. Market cap of $87.91B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $6.32 billion in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 33.2%.

3. MasterCard (NYSE: MA  ) : Provides transaction processing and related services to customers principally in support of their credit, deposit access, electronic cash and automated teller machine payment card programs, and travelers' cheque programs. Market cap of $44.15B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $4.39 billion in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 45.4%.

4. Cognizant Technology Solutions: Provides information technology consulting and technology services in North America, Europe, and Asia. Market cap of $21.52B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $2.29 billion in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 44.9%.

5. Forest Laboratories: Develops, manufactures, and sells branded and generic forms of ethical drug products. Market cap of $8.46B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $2.205 billion in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 31.8%.

6. Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG  ) : Designs, manufactures, and markets da Vinci surgical systems for various surgical procedures, including urologic, gynecologic, cardiothoracic, general, and head and neck surgeries. Market cap of $17.79B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $2.17 billion in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 70.9%.

7. Bed Bath & Beyond: Operates a chain of retail stores. Market cap of $15.02B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $1.52 billion in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 26.1%.

8. Autodesk: Provides design software and service solutions to customers in architecture, engineering, and construction; manufacturing; and digital media and entertainment industries. Market cap of $8.29B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $1.34 billion in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 44.7%.

9. T. Rowe Price Group: T. Rowe Price Group, is a publicly owned asset management holding company. Market cap of $15.42B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $1.01 billion in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 26.2%.

10. LSI (NYSE: LSI  ) : Designs, develops, and markets storage and networking semiconductors and storage systems worldwide. Market cap of $4.42B. In addition to having $0 in debt, the company has $879 million in cash and short term investments. Cash as % of assets: 38.7%.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman owns shares of AMZN.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, MasterCard, T. Rowe Price Group, Amazon.com, and Autodesk. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com, Intuitive Surgical, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended 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.


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