Stocks with the Most Fallback Cash

For some investors, cash will always be king and they feel safest investing in companies with generous fallback cash reserves. These 10 companies had the most cash at the end of 2012.

For some investors, cash will always be king and they feel safest investing in companies with large piles of money.

Investing in stocks with a fallback cash reserve can be a safe strategy. If the economy goes south, these companies have a cushion. And if the economy really takes off, then these businesses can put their money to very good use, Shirley Mueller, MD, explained in an earlier column.

Some ways that companies can deploy their cash reserves, according to Kiplinger, include:

1. Pay or boost dividends

2. Buy back shares

3. Buy other companies

4. Pay down debt

5. Invest internally

6. Save for a rainy day

However, investors shouldn’t only pay attention to cash reserves, because it won’t matter how much money these companies are sitting on if they lose their passion to develop exciting new products, if they suddenly have poor management take over, or if they have a large debt burden.

One thing that is interesting to note is the cash reserves of the number three and number one stocks on the below list. The company with the most cash has almost three times as much as the third-ranked company. And yet, the stock price for third place is almost twice that of the company at the top of the list.

While two health care companies made it into the top 10, there were that didn’t, but still landed in the top 25: Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly and Company.

10. Ford Motor

Copyright NBCNews.com

Symbol: F

Industry: Automotive

Total Cash: $22.9 billion

Last closing price: $15.88

52-week range: $8.82 - $16.08

Total debt: $107.6 billion

9. Amgen

Symbol: AMGN

Industry: Health care

Total Cash: $24.1 billion

Last closing price: $99.13

52-week range: $67.64 - $114.95

Total debt: $23.89 billion

8. General Motors

GMFleet.com

Symbol: GM

Industry: Automotive

Total Cash: $27.4 billion

Last closing price: $34.41

52-week range: $18.72 - $34.91

Total debt: $18.42 billion

7. Qualcomm

Copyright Realwire Limited

Symbol: QCOM

Industry: Technology

Total Cash: $28.4 billion

Last closing price: $63.22

52-week range: $53.09 - $68.50

Total debt: $22 million

6. Oracle

CNET.com

Symbol: ORCL

Industry: Technology

Total Cash: $33.7 billion

Last closing price: $34.39

52-week range: $25.84 - $36.43

Total debt: $19.75 billion

5. Cisco Systems

Wired.com

Symbol: CSCO

Industry: Technology

Total Cash: $46.4 billion

Last closing price: $24.38

52-week range: $14.96 - $24.68

Total debt: $16.25 billion

4. Pfizer

Business Week

Symbol: PFE

Industry: Health care

Total Cash: $46.9 billion

Last closing price: $27.75

52-week range: $21.40 - $31.15

Total debt: $40.4 billion

3. Google

Symbol: GOOG

Industry: Technology

Total Cash: $48.1 billion

Last closing price: $867.62

52-week range: $556.52 - $920.60

Total debt: $7.38 billion

2. Microsoft

CBS Interactive

Symbol: MSFT

Industry: Technology

Total Cash: $68.3 billion

Last closing price: $35.59

52-week range: $26.26 - $25.63

Total debt: $14.76 billion

1. Apple

Copyright iStockphoto.com/Yunus Arakon

Symbol: AAPL

Industry: Technology

Total Cash: $137.1 billion

Last closing price: $450.72

52-week range: $385.10 - $705.07

Total debt: $0