With stocks on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 having just hit record highs, investors need at least a bit of an explanation here. After all, this has been an unloved and unexpected rally of 7% in just 10 days or so, when many retail and institutional investors have reportedly been selling stocks rather than only buying. This rally is defying more negative trends than usual. One thing likely contributing to the gains is the endless effort in share buybacks by the biggest companies during June and July. 24/7 Wall St. recently featured 18 companies that will buy back the most stock in 2016.
Here we have identified five of the largest buybacks to see which companies are driving this train higher. The tally remains unknown because most earnings have yet to be reported. Still, the prior buyback kings have to have been big players here. Just in May, TrimTabs showed that inflows were suggesting that buybacks had peaked, but then came the Brexit-panic and then a snapback in the June payrolls report that negated the weak payrolls report from May.
24/7 Wall St. looked at the share prices of each of these five companies over the past 90 days to try to capture what might have taken place during the second quarter of 2016 and into the start of July. After all, buybacks have to be at least a part of this stock market rally as the Dow and S&P 500 hit new all-time highs.
Additional color has been added on each buyback to show relative value. Also shown are the market caps, the consensus analyst price targets compared with the current prices and the 52-week trading ranges. Dividend yields also have been included, and these are listed in descending order.
In the first quarter of 2016, McDonald’s Corp. (NASDAQ: MCD) had spent $4.312 billion on buybacks, but it spent a total of $9.805 billion in the trailing 12 months. McDonald’s borrowed money in recent quarters to boost its buyback and dividend, even at the cost of a credit downgrade, and that drop of 2.5% in the past 90 days probably has allowed McDonald’s to buy more shares. If not, maybe it can say it was busy working on a headquarters moving plan.
At the most recently close of $122.82, McDonald’s has a market cap of $108 billion. Its consensus price target is $130.71, and the 52-week range is $87.50 to $131.96. The dividend yield is 2.9%.
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) may have been prevented from moving overseas like it once wanted to, but its shares were up over 12% over the past 90 days. The drug giant spent $5.0 billion buying stock in the first quarter, and while the bulk of that buying was under an accelerated buyback plan, it seems logical that Pfizer has been buying its own stock with the largest quarterly gain of these five stocks. Pfizer is now over $60 billion deep in buyback spending over the trailing 10 years.
Shares closed at $36.31, with a market cap of $220 billion. The consensus price target is $38.67, the 52-week range is $28.25 to $36.46 and the current dividend yield is 3.3%.