Before it implemented its dividend and share buy back plan, Apple had about $120 billion in cash and marketable securities. Two years later, Apple has paid $21.5 billion in dividends and spent $53 billion buying its own shares. To avoid repatriation taxes it also borrowed $29 billion. Of course, the company has also been generating cash during this time.
Dediu offers the chart below which indicates how much cash the company would have currently if it didn't undertake those three measures. Looking at the blue line we see that Apple would have about $210 billion in cash.
There are about a dozen companies other than Apple worth more than that amount. As the company is not growth as quickly as it used to, the slope of the blue line is constant (i.e. it’s nearly linear.) Though that might be seen as evidence of failure, it’s more useful to treat this vast quantity as a recognition of past successes. The company’s beleaguered status needs to be carefully preserved.
Check out the chart or hit the link for more details!