Google Inc., operator of the world’s largest search engine, wants to keep money on hand in order to be able to invest quickly when needed, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said.
Google, which had $48.1 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of 2012, wants to retain its “strategic ability to pounce,” Pichette said at a Morgan Stanley conference Thursday. He cited the company’s ability to move “on a dime” when it agreed to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. for about $12.5 billion in cash in 2011.
Pichette discussed the question of cash as Apple Inc. is under increasing investor scrutiny over its $137.1 billion in cash and investments, facing pressure to return more to shareholders. Google regularly reviews its use of money with the board to ensure it’s being managed best for shareholders, Pichette said.
“For now we feel very comfortable with our position,” Pichette said. “We don’t have religion about cash and hoarding cash. Google doesn’t have this view that it will keep all its cash for eternity.”
Investors in the search-engine provider have seen better returns than Apple stockholders. While Google had advanced 31 percent in the past year through through Wednesday, Apple had declined 15 percent during the same period. Both were up less than 1 percent in late trading Thursday.
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