Flush with cash, Apple made virtually no acquisitions in 2021

While going through Apple’s recently-filed 10-K for FY2021, one number jumped out at Above Avalon’s Neil Cybart. It was the lack of cash spent on M&A. In 2021, Apple spent just $33 million – virtually nothing – on business acquisitions (M&A).

Apple Park in Cupertino, California
Apple Park in Cupertino, California

Neil Cybart for Above Avalon:

Since 2006, Apple has spent $20.6 billion on M&A with about half of the total tied to “business acquisitions.” The median is $1 billion per year. However, in 2021, Apple spent just $33 million on business acquisitions. That is the lowest amount since 2009 when Steve Jobs was still Apple CEO.

Why was 2021 such a quiet year for Apple M&A activity? For many, the pandemic will probably be positioned as a logical explanation… Diving deeper into that explanation, a number of logic holes appear. During the pandemic, there has been no overall decline in M&A activity in tech land. In fact, industry numbers point to a 50%+ increase in M&A activity as measured by deal count.

My suspicion is that 2021 was a quiet M&A year for Apple given where the company finds itself from a product pipeline perspective. For the better part of the past five years, Apple’s mixed reality/AR plans have been the catalyst behind approximately 20% of Apple’s M&A deals. Apple’s foray into face wearables is now right around the corner – so close that the company likely has the main ingredients to get a V1 and V2 out the door without the need for additional M&A. Meanwhile, long-term R&D projects like Project Titan are still too far away to lead to a sudden M&A rush.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, during this acquisitions lull, Apple did acquire $85.5 billion worth of AAPL stock so far this year.

So, it’s not like the company isn’t spending money.

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  1. Two thoughts…

    Apple needs to be careful to be gobble up companies to the extent they are perceived as being so big and powerful they need to be broken up.
    This would make sense when you look at the far-left (socialist) bills sitting in congress. Until these pass and Apple knows how it’s effected, it’s best to hang on to cash.

  2. Apple did make more than a few acquisitions in the past but they are mostly supply chain related small vendors. While it is still difficult to understand why billions (yes, that’s B, people!) are paid for the acquisition of Beats (questionable target and amount spent) so early on under this CEO, it may just be the mentality of tim mid CEO. I am of course the first to admit that I am no acquisition expert nor have any knowledge about it, it may be wise to set the direction of the company, acquire companies useful for hop-step-jumping to reach that corporate goal, buying Sony or whatever (cough, cough) if Apple is into so much into creative side. Some mistake may be made along the way but Apple has enough cash accumulated in its war-chest. And reliance on iPhone will soon wane out.

  3. Apple is wasting millions, if not billions, working to become another Hollywood movie/TV studio. We are already inundated with cable channels over 900, satellite TV, and all the original programming of other streaming services and various movie studios going back to the 1930s.

    Already overwhelming to check out everything everywhere, much less keep up with your tweets, podcasts, Facebook posts, e-mail, et al. Too much digital OVERLOAD and people have been smartly rebelling and trimming their consumption to enjoy REAL LIFE.

    The acquisition of Beats was the biggest and the worst, done for politically correct reasons by a SJW CEO, more concerned with pandering to Leftist Coast and Hollywood, instead of quality headphones when much better headphones already and still exist.

    Stick to the one that brung ya, Apple Macintosh. Increase capability to make Macs that blow away the competition and wrest the mantle from PC gamers once and for all!

    You have superior software, industrial design and integrated silicon blowing the doors off. Time to best the best Xeon processor…

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