Companies are announcing plans to buy back their own shares at a record pace, fueling the stock market with much-needed support, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to information from Goldman Sachs, S&P 500 firms have unveiled buyback plans through February totalling $238 billion.
It’s a smart move, as companies take advantage of the market volatility that has the S&P 500 down 12% so far this year. Buybacks can lend support to a company’s stock by lowering their share count and boosting its per-share profit. They can also serve as a confidence boost for investors, signaling that executives are optimistic about their company’s outlook, the article contends.
Union Pacific Corp is on track with the biggest stock buyback plan, valued at about $25 billion. PepsiCo Inc and Amazon both plan to buy back as much as $10 billion of their stock, and Colgate-Palmolive Co and Best Buy Co have announced plans to repurchase $5 billion. Companies are moving so swiftly to buy back their stock that Goldman Sachs revised their 2022 forecast, predicting a record $1 trillion in repurchases. That would be a 12% increase from last year, when repurchases helped push the S&P 500 to a 27% gain.
It’s near double the usual figure of yearly buybacks, which analysts pin at a historic high. But some investors are concerned that buybacks advance stock prices only in the short-term, sacrificing long-term growth by directing spending away from things that will help sustain a company’s health in the long run, such as capital expenditures, research and development, and workers’ wages. At the end of last year, the SEC proposed tighter disclosure requirements on buybacks—a move that hasn’t slowed down the rate of buybacks so far as companies look to create some kind of haven in their balance sheets as a way to handle current and future uncertainty.