It is no secret that investors love dividends and stock buybacks. In recent years, there has been a larger shift into companies buying back shares of common stock, even while they have grown their dividends. Standard & Poor’s has now shown that the first quarter of 2016 saw a 12% rise in buyback spending to a whopping $161.4 billion.
If this sounds impressive, note that it is actually the second largest buyback spending for a quarter on record. For the 12 months ending March 31, S&P said that the actual S&P 500 companies spent an almost unbelievable record total of $589.4 billion for buybacks. That is so much stock buying that it is almost like taking Apple private.
24/7 Wall St. wanted to break out the top S&P 500 companies buying the most stock in 2016. This data is for the first quarter, but it appears that every single one of these companies remains a serial buyer of their own shares. Another figure to consider is that this also marked the ninth consecutive quarter in which over 20% of the S&P 500 index members shrank their diluted share count by 4% or more in a year.
Total shareholder return, which is dividends plus buybacks, also saw a quarterly record of $257.6 billion in the first quarter of 2016. The trailing 12-month period for dividends and buybacks combined was a record $974.6 billion.
When 24/7 Wall St. looked at just the top 20 buyers of the most stock from the S&P 500 components, it turned out that these 20 companies alone spent a total of $616 billion in the past five years buying back stock. The cumulative total is a whopping $943 billion in the trailing 10-year period. 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 ranges. Dividend yields also have been included.
Here is a snapshot of our list: the five companies with the largest share buybacks.