Just five tech giants — Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Oracle Corp. — now hold a staggering $87 billion in cash and liquid investments. That is up from $77 billion a year ago, and suggests that these companies, whose revenue declined as much as 35%, aren’t as sick as conventional wisdom dictates.
To the contrary, these tech companies will likely emerge from the long slump in stronger competitive positions, compared with cash-starved and debt-ridden rivals. The titans are wielding their cash as competitive weapons. Microsoft is pouring billions into far-flung searches for new growth markets, such as Internet service, video-game consoles and cellphone software. Intel is investing $12 billion in new and retooled factories, hoping to expand its lead in semiconductor technology. Dell is grabbing market share and expanding into new products.