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How to Spend It

Stop saying US companies aren’t investing. They are

We know it’s hard. But please avert your gaze from the $1.9 trillion pile of cash that US corporations control.

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That buildup doesn’t mean that companies aren’t investing for the future, as some—including your humble scribe—may have suggested in the past.

US corporations are indeed plowing money into long-term business investment projects—known to the cognoscenti as capital expenditures. According to S&P index analysts, companies in the S&P 500 are expected to have spent more than $163 billion in corporate investment in the fourth quarter of 2013, once the final tally is done. That’s a new record high, and a 4.4% increase over the fourth quarter of 2012.

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Other measures of business spending—such as the private nonresidential fixed investment component of GDP—show roughly the same thing, a 4-5% increase over last year.

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So exactly who in the corporate firmament is doing all this spending? Among S&P 500 companies, analysts say that oil and gas businesses, as well as firms in the telecom industry—specifically Verizon and AT&T—are leading the way.

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