Apple has laid the foundation for its first-ever debt sale. The company that has over $140 billion in cash and not a single penny of debt has decided to sell bonds in order to raise capital for its $60 billion share buyback program. It needs to raise capital because only about $45 billion of its cash is in the United States.
Interestingly, Apple was not rated a Triple A rating, even with all of the cash it has on hand. It is expected that Apple could cheaply raise funds, possibly cheaper than Microsoft, due to the current interest rate and notoriety of Apple. Investors are expected to jump at the chance to buy up some of Apple's debt.
S&P rated Apple as AA+ for debt and Moody's rated it Aa1. Moody's analyst Gerald Granovsky:
Apple's Aa1 rating is not higher due to Moody's view that there are inherent long-run risks for any company with high exposure to shifting consumer preferences.
Bankers expect Apple to issue 10-year bonds at roughly 45bp-50bp over Treasuries. Microsoft, on the other hand, recently sold 10-year bonds at 70 basis points over Treasuries.