The FactSet “Cash & Investment Quarterly” (pdf) dated December 19, 2013 highlights a variety of statistics regarding S&P500 cash and cash generation activities.
One aspect that is discussed and depicted is that of free cash flow.
An excerpt from page 2 regarding free cash flow:
Another major factor for cash growth was large cash inflows from operations. S&P 500 companies generated $351.3 billion in free cash flow in Q3, the second largest amount in at least ten years. This amounted to 7.2% growth year-over-year, and, as a result of slower growth in fixed capital expenditures (+2.2%), free cash flow (operating cash flow less fixed capital expenditures) grew at a higher rate of 11.3%. Free cash flows were also at their second highest quarterly level ($196.8 billion) in Q3.
Eight of the nine sectors under consideration grew free cash flow year-over-year, led by the Energy sector (+208%). However, the Energy sector frequently has volatile or low free cash flow, which distorts the growth rate. The Health Care sector, on the other hand, grew free cash flow at an impressive 21.4%, despite generating over $32 billion in free cash in the year-ago period. Pfizer ($5.6B), Johnson & Johnson ($5.1B), UnitedHealth Group ($3.0B), and Merck ($3.6B) led the sector in the generation of free cash flow.
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