Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) penchant for mimicking Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) products is an open secret in the smartphone industry, although it is still widely disputed whether or not this copying rises to the level of illegal patent infringement. Now it seems that Samsung’s aping of Apple has even gone beyond the similarities found in both of the companies’ products.
Just like its Cupertino-based rival, the South Korea-based smartphone maker has recently started to accumulate a large cash pile. Although not quite as large as Apple’s approximately $145 billion cash hoard, Samsung has still accumulated an impressive amount. It’s an even more impressive surplus when considering the relatively high infrastructure costs that a vertically-integrated company like Samsung has.
According to first quarter statistics via The Motley Fool, Samsung currently has an estimated $40.1 billion in gross cash reserves. However, the South Korean conglomerate also has $11.4 billion in debt, which gives it total net cash reserves of $28.7 billion.
Samsung has also grown its cash hoard at an impressive rate. In the first quarter of 2012, the South Korean smartphone maker had gross cash reserves of $23.4 billion, or $10.6 billion in net cash after subtracting its debt. In other words, Samsung increased its net cash balance by 63 percent in one year.
In comparison, Apple grew its gross cash position by approximately 24 percent by increasing its cash reserves from $110.2 to $144.7 over the past year. Since Apple only recently took on debt through its bond offering, this has no effect on its first quarter net cash position.
It remains to be seen if the South Korean conglomerate will follow Apple’s lead by also rewarding its investors with a capital return plan and increased dividend.