Companies in the S&P 500 spent $116.2 billion on stock buyback programs in the second quarter, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, a rate representing fewer repurchases from the previous quarter, even as more companies reduced their share counts.
The second-quarter rate was down 1.6 percent from the second quarter of 2013 and off 27.1 percent from the previous quarter. However, the first quarter was skewed by a massive stock buyback program at Apple Inc <AAPL.O>, which spent a record $18 billion on buybacks in the first three months of the year, compared with $5 billion in the second quarter.
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"During the second quarter, 23 percent of S&P 500 issuers reduced their year-over-year share count enough to push up their earnings per share significantly," said Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. That compares with almost 20 percent in the first quarter and 12 percent in the second quarter of 2013.
According to S&P, 295 companies in the S&P 500 reduced their share count in the second quarter, five more than in the first quarter and well up from the 223 that did in the second quarter of 2013.
Among popular strategies for playing buybacks, the TrimTabs Float Shrink exchange-traded fund <TTFS.P> fell 0.2 percent to $51.99 and the Powershares Buyback Achievers Fund <PKW.P> was down 0.4 percent at $45.21.
The TrimTabs fund is up 7.2 percent so far this year while the Powershares fund is up 4.9 percent, both underperforming the S&P 500's 7.7 percent rise.
Earlier this month, Barclays forecast "less robust outperformance" from buybacks, saying such programs were "unlikely to spur further expansion of valuation multiples" and that they would not "solve for slow growth."