urrently interest rates are near historic lows. With the Federal Funds rate at 0.25% there is not much further to go down (bankrate.com). With treasuries trading at very low rates, stable companies should be able to raise capital in today’s market at low rate that remains attractive to investors seeking higher returns than from government bonds. They should also be able to issue longer time horizon bonds that will extend the positive benefit of taking on debt well into the future by reducing short-term expenses and maximizing the chances of interest rate and inflation increases.
In addition to the benefit of securing loans at historically low interest rates; the company may also be able to gain a tax advantage on capital, which could be more advantageous than holding cash. There is an article in Forbes describing why Apple, with $145 Billion in cash has decided to issue bonds (Forbes).
With signs of an economic recovery becoming clearer, a company with the means to do so can invest in facilities now using capital raised from bonds and be in a strong position to gain market share as the economy picks up. It can also buy back stock as Apple is choosing to do.
Low interest bonds will also benefit the company as the economy improves because the coupon payments will cost the company less in present day dollars. Even with a low ROI use for the capital the company stands to make money if inflation out paces the issued bond interest rate.