Many of the largest technology companies are making so much money that they are rapidly accumulating cash on their balance sheets. While on could argue that this cash should be stripped off the balance sheet for valuation purposes, I would argue that the cash is worth less than face value because having excess cash on the balance sheet is an invitation to wealth-destroying acquisitions. The excess cash should be returned to shareholders as quickly as possible in the form of dividends or share buybacks to prevent such an outcome.
Here’s an interesting conversation about social media and Internet and technology companies’ adjustment to it.
I would argue that this is evidence that these companies are wasting shareholder capital by plunking down for splashy acquisitions and large new capital investments that are not paying off. Cisco and Microsoft have huge cash balances waiting to be deployed. This money can go to buying back shares at inflated prices or making acquisitions of dubious value to shareholders. The right thing for these companies to do is not necessarily just restructure but change their mindset and accept that the glory days of top line growth are over. First and foremost this means increasing the dividend payout to match other sectors of the economy.