We’re less than a month into 2014, and it’s already clear that this year is going to bring some changes that will require individual and institutional investors alike to rethink their strategies. One telltale indicator is that recently, we’ve seen a handful of market bellwethers announce hefty share repurchase programs. So today I want to explain exactly why this is great news for investors and then point you to nine companies engaged in billion-dollar stock buybacks that deserve a closer look.
First, I consider stock buybacks a plus for investors, and here’s why:
- It’s a sign that a company considers its shares good bargain.
- Having fewer shares on the market reduces share price fluctuations.
- Stock buybacks increase earnings per share—helping a company beat analyst estimates when they announce quarterly results.
- For dividend-paying companies, buying back stock means that there are fewer shares that require a quarterly dividend payment.
With all of these benefits, it’s no wonder that many companies are relentlessly buying back their stock. (And it’s no wonder that Carl Icahn keeps pushing Apple Inc. (AAPL) to increase its stock buyback program.)
Now, finding out which companies are engaged in share repurchase programs requires some research, so today I’ve compiled a list of the biggest stock buyback launches that you should keep on your radar. (Of course, while a stock buyback program is a good sign for a company, it’s not a green light for a buy recommendation, so I’ve added a column with my Portfolio Grader recommendation for each stock.)
|Ticker||Company||Stock Buyback||Quantitative Grade||Fundamental Grade||My Take|
|VRX||Valeant Pharmaceuticals||$1.5 billion||A||D||Buy|
|GD||General Dynamics Corp.||$1.1 billion||B||C||Buy|
|CMCSA||Comcast Corp.||$7.5 billion||C||C||Hold|
|PFE||Pfizer Inc.||$10 billion||C||C||Hold|
|FDX||FedEx Corp.||$2 billion||C||C||Hold|
|CHKP||Check Point Software Technologies||$1 billion||C||C||Hold|
|LBTYA||Liberty Global Plc||$1 billion||C||C||Hold|
|CAT||Caterpillar Inc.||$10 billion||F||D||Strong Sell|
What can we take away from this? Stock buybacks can be a powerful indicator for investors, but it takes more than a hefty share repurchase program to pass my screening tool.