Wednesday, February 8, 2017

We’re in a bit of data drought here at Calcbench, as we wait a few more weeks for companies to start filing their Form 10-Ks for 2016. When those reports start arriving, the floodgates will open and you’ll be awash in fresh financial data and research, we promise.

Meanwhile, to pass the time, we have our latest look at money Corporate America spent to buy back shares, through third quarter 2016.

Figure 1, below, shows the number of filers buying back shares each quarter back to 2012. The red line shows the average amount spent per quarter. That average does zigzag quite a bit, but across the whole five-year period the trend is clearly upward.

We also totaled up the dollars spent for the first three quarters of every year, to get a sense of how our partial 2016 results compare. The results are as follows:

  • 2012: $257.66 billion
  • 2013: $357.95 billion
  • 2014: $411.04 billion
  • 2015: $414.59 billion
  • 2016: $386.83 billion

In other words, after brisk year-over-year growth in share repurchase programs for four straight years, Corporate America stepped in the brakes in 2016—a 6.7 percent decline from the comparable period in 2015.

Will results from fourth quarter 2016 change the overall story? Calcbench will report back later this spring when we have those full-year numbers in hand.

Don’t Forget the Big Boys

Calcbench also tracks the pace of “mega-buybacks”—firms that spent at least $ billion in any given quarter on repurchase programs. As you can see from Figure 2, below, the number of mega-buyers declined over the course of 2016, but it is still considerably larger than the figure from 2012.

Who are these companies? All the usual suspects, really: Walmart, United Airlines, Apple, Disney, Goldman Sachs, Express Scripts; and a dozen other titans of the U.S. corporate world.

Calcbench subscribers can do your own exploring via our Company-in-Detail or Multi-Company pages, depending on whether you want to investigate one specific company or look at industry trends broadly. Just visit the appropriate page, and in the “Search Standardized Metrics” box enter “repurchase.”

You’ll then see numerous choices: number of shares authorized to be repurchased; number of shares repurchased in a period; value of stock repurchased in a period; cash used to repurchase common stock; and so forth.

Check this blog regularly to see other quick morsels of research we post. And once those 2016 annual reports start arriving en masse, we promise—it will be fresh analysis galore.

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