The rising threat of an economic recession has done nothing to dissuade Corporate America from spending big on its own shares.
American firms announced a record $1.26 trillion of share buybacks in 2022, up 3% from a year ago, according to data compiled by Birinyi Associates. By the firm’s estimate, companies executed on 82% of that total, spending $1.03 trillion. And the outlays aren’t just to offset employee stock grants that would otherwise dilute ownership, Birinyi found. The number of shares outstanding has shrunk for the top buyers in recent years, a sign that those repurchases have bolstered equity prices, or in the case of 2022’s bear market prevented losses from snowballing.