The Motley Fool notes increasing levels of competition among the Big 3 as indicated by their cash king margins, which the Fools find by dividing a company's free cash flow by sales. A consistent increase their margins over time is an indication that a company's competitive position is improving.
McKesson has consistently provided cash king margins at less than two percent with no growth in the past three years and a decline from five years ago. ASB also has shown declines in its cash king margins. Cardinal, by contrast, has boosted its margins in the past four quarters.
"Cardinal remains committed to boosting shareholder returns leveraging a solid cash flow ($2.76 billion at the end of June, according to MarketWatch) as it continues share repurchases and pays incremental dividends," says Zacks.
McKesson reported for the first quarter cash flow from operations of $528 million and ended the quarter with a cash balance of $3.3 billion. "We have the flexibility to invest in our existing businesses, pursue strategic opportunities, continue to repurchase our shares and pay dividends," says Hammergren.
ASB has shown "strong operational cash flow" from operations over the past year, says Fitch. Its $652 million funded operations, acquisitions and share repurchases.