Why Does Apple Inc. Issue Corporate Bonds? / by kevin murray

Apple Inc. has a staggering market capitulation of $660 billion dollars as of the autumn of 2014.  Additionally, Apple has somewhere around $150 billion in cash or cash equivalents on hand, which would, by definition, mean that they would not have any need whatsoever to issue debt such as bonds, yet in the last couple of years, Apple has done just that.  There are two significant reasons why Apple has gone to the bond market, to which the most compelling reason being that Apple has just about $138 billion of its cash assets held overseas, which they cannot repatriate back into America without suffering huge tax consequences, consequently Apple deliberately utilizes legal tax havens overseas, effectively lowering their United States tax rate immensely because the taxes that they pay in the States are based on profits made in America.  The other reason for the bond issuance is that the credit worthiness of Apple at AA-plus is the same as United States treasuries, with Apple being able therefore to issue debt at yield rates to investors that are just modestly above US treasuries, assuring themselves of an incredibly low debt cost and therefore a very enviable low cost to service borrowed money.


It is important to understand that In order for there to be fairness and justice, law must be equally applied and applicable to all, but when you are dealing with literally billions of dollars, and recognizing too that every dollar that you pay in taxes is a dollar that disappears from your corporation piggy-bank; as a corporation, you may well take the position, that it is in your company's best interests as well as in your stockholder's best interest to do everything imaginable to lower and thereby to reduce your tax consequences, while still being able to state with pride that your corporation pays all of its legal taxes, but this same corporation cannot also truly contend that it pays all of its taxes within the "spirit of the law".


Apple too recognizes that with the cost of money being at historic lows and with their credit rating being equivalent to US treasuries, that thereby by definition their credit rating is higher than all but nineteen nations in the entire world.  This therefore translates into Apple's ability to issue bonds that will be well received, if not oversold, at incredibly competitive rates, which in actuality as compared to US treasuries are just basis points above them.  However, Apple has demonstrated in 2014 that they are even smarter than the smartest guys in the room, because in 2014, they were able to issue additional debt which according to Reuters results in:"eight-year notes issued in Europe, Apple's bonds will yield 1.082%, while 12-year notes will yield 1.671%."  This means that Apple's new bonds will yield considerably less than equivalent US Treasures in which the 10-year US treasury currently resides at 2.32%.  Apple is able to accomplish all this because bond yields in Europe are even lower than in the United States.


Consequently, because Apple is so successful at their bond issuance, they therefore have the capital and flexibility to pay out dividends at a satisfactory yield to satisfy stockholders, to make planned purchases of corporate stock in buybacks to either help support their stock price or to appreciate it through the attendant increase in earnings per share and return on equity, to take advantage of the deductibility of debt interest, and finally to have the flexibility and wherewithal to make investments into instruments that yield or will produce returns higher than the debt that they are paying.