It looks like Apple is bringing back home nearly all of its US$250 billion in foreign cash

It looks like Apple is bringing back home nearly all of its US$250 billion in foreign cash
PHOTO: Reuters

Apple just announced on Wednesday it will bring back hundreds of billions of dollars from overseas to fund investment in the US and likely increase its capital returns.

"Apple, already the largest US taxpayer, anticipates repatriation tax payments of approximately US$38 billion (S$50.3 billion) as required by recent changes to the tax law. A payment of that size would likely be the largest of its kind ever made," the company said in the release.

Using the new 15.5 per cent repatriation tax rate, the $38 billion tax payment disclosed by Apple means they are planning a $245 billion repatriation.

The tax overhaul, which President Donald Trump signed into law last month, also lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 per cent from 35 per cent.

After the repatriation tax payment, the company will have $207 billion left over from the move it can use for investments, acquisitions, stock buybacks or larger dividends. Apple said it plans more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the US during the next five years.

Apple had US$252.3 billion in overseas cash as of the end of September quarter, according to SEC filings, so that means the company is paying tax on nearly all of that foreign cash.

"I think it is more likely that you will see incremental cash return to shareholders in the form of higher dividend and/or incremental share repurchases," Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said on CNBC's "Power Lunch" Wednesday.

The shares rose 1.7 per cent after the announcement. Apple declined to comment to CNBC on the specific repatriation size.

Technically the new law mandates that Apple pay this tax on its foreign cash. And after it pays this tax, it can do what it wants with what's left and isn't under any requirement to bring that cash physically back to the US to invest here.

The amount Apple is paying tax on is larger than analysts anticipated. Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Wamsi Mohan estimated on Wednesday Apple had US$236 billion available to be repatriated to the US

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