Tech companies are awash in cash. That’s the takeaway from earnings results for the March quarter so far, including today’s numbers from Alphabet, Microsoft and Pinterest. And it means more cash to be invested in their businesses and, for the bigger companies, to be returned to shareholders through buybacks or dividends.
We don’t want to get boring but the sheer size of the March quarter numbers are worth reciting. Alphabet revealed today that its free cash flow—that clunky term that denotes the cash a company generates from its operations, after capital spending on computers and data centers is deducted—rose 146% to $13.4 billion. Microsoft’s equivalent number rose 24% to $17.2 billion. Pinterest generated $269 million in “free cash flow” in the quarter, a big number for the relatively small firm. For all of last year, on that same metric, Pinterest only generated about $11 million.