Berkshire and Others Sitting on Piles of Cash

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is one of several behemoth companies (including Apple and Google parent Alphabet) “sitting on large cash positions that give them the wherewithal to ride out a prolonged weak stretch in the economy.” This according to a recent Barron’s article.

Buffett’s decision to sit on $125 billion in cash (as of the end  of 2019) “underscores the company’s financial strength and helps make Berkshire among the most defensive big stocks in a rocky market,” the article reports, adding that the CEO said in a recent interview that the company holds no commercial paper or short-term corporate debt.

At the close of 2019, Alphabet reportedly held $119 billion of cash and equivalents and Apple had $207 billion.

Buffett said in a CNBC interview, “We have to run the place so that every check clears under any circumstances…We don’t rely on bank lines or anything. When people get terrified, and they will occasionally, everything freezes, you know? And you’re going to have to stand on your own feet at a time like that. It won’t happen very often, but it’ll happen occasionally.”

The article notes that many investors expect Buffett to spend some of the firm’s cash in the near term on appealing investments…in line with his philosophy of “being greedy when others are fearful.”