Richest Global Chipmaker? It’s Not Intel
Intel Corp. should have the boasting rights. It’s the biggest chipmaker by sales, market value and – arguably –brand recognition but in terms of cash and term liquid investments Intel isn’t the world’s richest semiconductor manufacturer.
That title belongs to Qualcomm Inc., which in the March quarter reported not just more cash than any other chipmaker but also zero long-term debts and a business that continues to thrive even under regulatory pressures.
On the OEM side of the electronics industry, Apple Inc. is by far the globe’s richest company. It leads in sales and market value and has a cash hoard unrivaled by any other publicly-traded company. With almost $188 billion in cash, short- and long-term investments and other long-term assets as at the end of its latest quarter, Apple has more liquid resources than all publicly-owned semiconductor companies combined. The company’s fiscal 2014 revenue of $183 billion was approximately 54 percent of all semiconductor sales ($335.8 billion) reported by the Semiconductor Industry Association for 2014, making Apple one of the biggest chip buyers globally.
The 5 Richest Semiconductor Companies identified by Electronics Purchasing Strategies together had $77 billion in cash and other liquid investments on their balance sheets at the end of their latest quarter. All of them are based in North America and together account for a sizeable share of the global semiconductor market on a revenue basis. At the end of their latest fiscal years, the companies reported combined sales of $97.5 billion, representing slightly less than one-third of global semiconductor sales.
The companies, by ranking, are Qualcomm, Intel, Broadcom, Nvidia and Altera. The five chipmakers are represented in key segments of the electronics industry and supply components to OEMs involved in automotive, computing, communications, consumer, data-center, gaming, medical, industrial and packaging solutions. Some companies that reported larger revenues and fatter cash accounts for their recent fiscal year did not make Electronics Purchasing Strategies’ 5 Richest Semiconductor Manufacturers list because they also posted huge long-term debts.
Electronics Purchasing Strategies selected only publicly-owned companies for consideration and also excluded chipmakers that have extensive OEM operations, including companies like Samsung Electronics and most Japanese semiconductor vendors that are part of larger enterprises. The methodology used to determine the companies’ actual cash position involved stripping out long-term debts from cash, short- and long-term investments and other “long-term assets” on publicly available balance sheets.
Qualcomm had net cash of $32.6 billion, putting it in first place; Intel came second with $16.6 billion; Broadcom followed with $4.1 billion; Nvidia fourth with $3.5 billion and; Altera No. 5 with $3.2 billion. The five companies had a total of nearly $17 billion in long-term debts, mainly contributed by Intel, which reported $12 billion in long-term debt at the end of the June quarter.