cash cow

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An allusion to the dairy cow, which once acquired may be milked on an ongoing basis.


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cash cow (plural cash cows)

  1. (idiomatic, business) A product, service, or enterprise that generates ongoing, high net free cash flows.
    • 1980, D. J. Hall and M. A. Saias, "Strategy Follows Structure!," Strategic Management Journal, vol. 1, no. 2, p. 181,
      The managers of a cash cow are primarily responsible for the generation of cash, and they should in principle be willing to give cash away to those other businesses in the portfolio which need it most.
  2. (idiomatic, by extension) Someone or something which is a dependable source of appreciable amounts of money; a moneymaker.
    • 2004, Dan Milmo, "Press tycoon Lord Black used company as ‘cash cow’, says $1.25bn lawsuit,", 11 May (retrieved 30 Oct. 2008),
      Hollinger International, the owner of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, claimed in the 175-page filing that its former chief executive had treated the company as his "cash cow".
    • 2004, "Britney's new digs," The Age (Australia), 5 Oct. (retrieved 30 Oct. 2008),
      Meanwhile, "Mr Spears is keen on protecting his cash cow, um, wife. Brit's bodyguards have been teaching Kev how to shoot a handgun," the New York Post says.

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  1. ^ See Growth-share matrix in Wikipedia