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USA Today: 20 S&P 500 Companies Paid Zero Taxes in Q2

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 09:11 PM

By Dan Weil

Many critics have complained about America's onerous 35 percent maximum federal tax rate for corporations. After all, that's one of the highest, if not the highest, top rate in the developed world.

But many companies are able to largely skirt the U.S. tax man. Indeed, 20 companies in the S&P 500 that reported profits for the second quarter effectively paid zero taxes on them, according to USA Today, which used data from S&P Capital IQ.

The five with the highest amount of net income in the second quarter are Merck ($2 billion), Seagate Technology ($320 million), Thermo Fisher Scientific ($278.5 million), General Motors ($278 million) and Public Storage ($276.8 million).

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The other 15 listed by USA Today are Iron Mountain, Newmont Mining, Eaton, Avalonbay, Kimco Realty, Prologis, Boston Properties, Apartment Investment, Plum Creek Timber, Citrix Systems, Crown Castle, Macerich, News Corp., Essex Property and First Solar.

While you generally don't want the amount of a company's tax bill to determine whether you invest in its stock, obviously a lower tax bill is good for any company.

As for Merck, Morningstar analyst Damien Conover offers a qualified endorsement of the company.

"Merck's combination of a wide lineup of high-margin drugs and a pipeline of new drugs should ensure strong returns on invested capital over the long term," he writes on Morningstar.com.

"Further, Merck is through the worst of its patent cliff, which should remove the heightened generic competition the company has experienced over the last five years."

But the company's growth will be curbed in the short-term by the merely "moderate" success of its research and development strategy to date, Conover says.

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