RECENT POSTS
Monday, September 16, 2019
Introducing Critical Audit Matters

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Our Fireside Chat on Goodwill Assets

Friday, September 6, 2019
Pulling Forward Share Buybacks

Saturday, August 31, 2019
A Quick Catch-Up on VMWare

Friday, August 23, 2019
By the Numbers: Restructuring Costs Over Time

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
WeWork Liabilities, Part II

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
WeWork’s Liabilities in Perspective

Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Comparing LinkedIn, Twitter Revenue

Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Leasing’s Effect on Retail Balance Sheets

Thursday, August 1, 2019
Using Calcbench to Find China Exposure

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Leasing Details: The Comcast Example

Monday, July 29, 2019
Easy Fundamental Equity Analysis in Python

Monday, July 22, 2019
Calcbench Data and Tax Reform Insight

Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Downshifting in the Trucking World

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
New Report: Adoption of New Lease Accounting Standard

Friday, July 5, 2019
More Consequences of Lease Accounting

Monday, July 1, 2019
Another Example of Tax Reform Twisting Bottom Line

Thursday, June 27, 2019
The Latest Share Repurchase Data

Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Popping the Lid on Smuckers’ Goodwill

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Not Much Fizz in LaCroix Right Now

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The Latest Share Repurchase Data
Thursday, June 27, 2019

Calcbench just dropped a new report about firms’ spending on share repurchase programs, perhaps confirming what you already suspected — yep, corporations are spending a lot of money buying back shares.

We examined seven years’ worth of data, charting how much all U.S.-listed firms spent on share repurchases from the start of 2012 through first-quarter 2019. The full report is available for (free) download, and we’ll recap a few highlights here.

First, firms have been spending huge sums on buybacks: $4.95 trillion over the 29 quarters we examined, and on a per quarter basis, that spending has increased over time. In 2012, for example, quarterly totals fell somewhere from $100 billion to $150 billion. By 2018, quarterly totals were north of $200 billion. See Figure 1, below.



Second, a small number of large firms account for a big part of all money spent on share repurchases. For example, of the more than $220 billion spent on share repurchases in Q1 2019, five firms (Apple, Oracle, Pfizer, Bank of America, and Cisco Systems) accounted for 25 percent of all money spent.

Third, buyback spending soared starting in fourth-quarter 2017, even as spending on R&D and capital equipment stayed relatively flat. See Figure 2, below.



Yes, capex spending did rise in 2018, and R&D fluctuated a bit — but neither of those trends are anywhere near the climb that buyback spending saw starting at the end of 2017. That’s when Congress enacted its steep cut in corporate tax rates. So those who say Corporate America then spent all that newfound money on share repurchase programs have data on their side.

The report also…

  • Lists the companies that spent the most on buybacks (Apple topping the list, of course);
  • Tracks “share buyback yield,” which essentially measures how much of a firm’s market cap is acquired in a repurchase;
  • Compares median and mean dollars spent on repurchases;
  • Compares repurchases versus dividends as ways to funnel value to shareholders.

Be sure to visit our Research page to see prior years’ share repurchase analyses, going back to 2014.


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