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Apple’s $145 Billion in Cash Fails to Win AAA Debt Rating

A debt-free balance sheet with more cash than the combined funds of every AAA rated U.S. company failed to win Apple Inc. the bond market’s highest credit grade as the iPhone maker prepares to borrow to enrich shareholders.

Apple, which has $145 billion of cash, said yesterday it plans to use debt to help finance a $100 billion capital reward for shareholders after a 42 percent stock plunge. Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s responded by ranking the company a level below their top grades, with Gerald Granovsky of Moody’s citing “shifting consumer preferences” in a statement as a risk to Cupertino, California-based Apple’s business.