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ITPM Flash EP33 Buybacks are Back Sumary

Today, we're diving into a topic that's been making waves in the financial world according to Jason McDonald from ITPM, Share Buybacks in the US!

Recently, Corporate America got what seems like a booster shot to the S&P 500, with firms announcing a whopping $105 billion worth of share repurchases in just the first week of February. This not only topped January's total but also marked the strongest start to February on record.

Introduction: The Buyback Boom

Imagine Corporate America as a superhero, flying high in the sky, powered by the engine of share buybacks. In the first dazzle of February, firms have unleashed $105 billion in repurchases, shining brighter than any January before. This spree isn't just about flexing financial muscles; it's a signal. Companies are betting big on the economy's direction, scooping up their own shares in a bullish embrace.

What's Driving the Buyback Binge?

It's like finding a $20 bill in your winter coat from last year; Corporate America has discovered extra cash and is spending it wisely (or so they think). This surge in buybacks suggests a growing confidence among management teams about the economy's future path. Yet, as we will see, not all buybacks are created equal.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Buybacks

Case Study 1: Boeing

Boeing, the aerospace giant, channelled $39 billion into repurchasing its stock over five years, up to 2018. That's 80% of its free cash flow! Instead of soaring into new product investments, Boeing might have flown higher with a different strategy. Their last year of positive net income? You guessed it, 2018.

Case Study 2: Charter Communications

This tale of telecommunications turned tragic, with Charter Communications investing $72 billion in its own stock, only to see its market cap dwindle to 58% of what was spent. As their debt ballooned from $60 billion to $98 billion, the story of Charter is a stark reminder: share buybacks can backfire.

Why Do Companies Buy Back Shares?

Companies standing at the crossroads of cash decisions have a quartet of paths: invest in growth, distribute dividends, acquire others, or repurchase shares. Like choosing between pizza toppings, each option has its fans. Buybacks, akin to dividends, offer a way to return capital to shareholders, boosting earnings per share by reducing the shares out in the wild.

The Impact of Buybacks on the Market

Over the past five years, the top 125 buyback aficionados have outshined the broader market, with a 16% annualized return. Stars like Builder's First Source skyrocketed with a 69% annual return. Yet, this strategy shines brightest when companies buy wisely, not just widely.

Conclusion: Buybacks as a Strategy

While buybacks have turbocharged some stocks, they've also led to spectacular crashes. The key? Smart buybacks—those done at undervalued prices and funded by free cash, not debt. For investors wary of the market's high flyers, looking towards companies with substantial, smart buyback programs might just be the ticket to outperformance.


  1. What is a share buyback? Share buyback, or repurchase, is when a company buys its own shares from the marketplace, reducing the amount of outstanding stock.

  2. Why do companies buy back shares? Companies may buy back shares to return capital to shareholders, improve financial ratios, signal confidence in the company's future, or because they believe the stock is undervalued.

  3. Are all buybacks good for the company? Not necessarily. While they can signal confidence and return value to shareholders, poorly timed or financed buybacks can harm a company's financial health.

  4. How do buybacks affect stock price? Buybacks can increase the stock price by reducing supply and increasing earnings per share, but the long-term impact depends on the company's overall financial health and market conditions.

  5. Can buybacks be a sign of trouble? In some cases, yes. If a company is using debt to finance buybacks or neglecting necessary investments in growth, it could be a red flag for investors.

Remember, in the world of finance, like in life, not all that glitters is gold. Share buybacks can be a double-edged sword, offering a path to value or a recipe for disaster. Choose wisely, and happy investing!


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