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Why Do Companies Repurchase Their Own Stock?

2022-12-06  Maliyah Mah

In a stock buyback, the issuing business returns the portion of its ownership that was previously split between public and private investors while paying shareholders the market price per share.

When a corporation repurchases its shares, it has two options: it can buy the stock directly from its owners or on the open market. Dividends are no longer the favored method for returning money to shareholders in recent years; share buybacks have taken their place.

Blue-chip corporations are significantly more likely to exercise buybacks due to the costs involved, however, smaller companies may decide to do so.


  • Companies engage in buybacks for a number of reasons, such as firm consolidation, a rise in equity value, and to appear more financially appealing.
  • Buybacks have one drawback: because they are frequently financed with debt, they can be difficult on cash flow.
  • Stock repurchases may have a somewhat favorable impact on the national economy.
  • Motives for Stock Buybacks
  • It may seem counter-intuitive that a company would decide to return the money given that it raises equity capital by selling regular and preferred shares. However, there are a number of circumstances in which a firm may benefit from repurchasing its shares, including lowering the cost of capital, consolidating ownership, maintaining stock prices, undervaluation, and enhancing its important financial ratios.
  • 3 Repurchases of Stock Lower Costs
  • A tiny ownership interest in the issuing firm, including the opportunity to vote on financial and corporate policy decisions, is represented by each share of common stock.

A company truly has 1,000,001 owners if it has a managing owner and 1,000,000 shareholders. Companies issue shares to raise equity capital to fund expansion, but holding on to all that unused equity cash implies sharing ownership without a solid rationale if there are no possible growth chances.

Businesses that have grown to dominate their industry, for instance, can discover that there isn't much room for expansion left. Carrying significant quantities of equity capital on the balance sheet becomes more of a burden than a benefit when there is so little capacity left to expand.

Since many shareholders expect dividend payments as returns on their investments, the corporation is essentially paying for the right to access money that it isn't using. As a result, repurchasing some or all of the outstanding shares may be a quick and easy approach to repay investors and lower the total cost of capital.

Due to this, Walt Disney (DIS) bought back 73.8 million shares in 2016 for a total of $7.5 billion, thereby lowering the number of outstanding shares on the market.

Stock repurchases Streamline Ownership

Shares are issued by companies to raise money for projects. There are numerous share classes that can be issued, but the common and preferred shares are the most prevalent. Common shares, also known as ordinary shares, have ownership rights and voting rights. Dividends are paid out to preferred shareholders before common shareholders, and they are paid out higher on the priority list during a bankruptcy proceeding.

A corporation that issues thousands of shares effectively has thousands of voting shareholders. The number of owners, voters, and capital claims is decreased through a buyback.

Stock repurchases Keep the Stock Price Up
Typically, shareholders expect the corporation to pay them increasing dividends on a regular basis.

Stock Buybacks

The maximization of shareholder wealth is another objective shared by business executives. However, if the economy enters a recession, firm executives must strike a balance between pleasing shareholders and remaining agile.

Why do some people prefer dividends over buybacks? A corporation can be required to reduce its dividends in order to retain cash if the economy weakens or enters a recession.

The outcome would surely result in a stock sell-off. However, the stock price would probably suffer less if the bank chose to buy back fewer shares, achieving the same capital preservation as a dividend cut.

A company's price will surely rise if it commits to paying out dividends with consistent growth, but the dividend plan has potential drawbacks as well. Dividends cannot easily be reduced during a recession, while share buybacks may, with much less harm to the stock price.

The Share Price Is Too Low

Businesses that do buybacks frequently do so because they firmly believe that the value of their shares is undervalued.

Undervaluation can happen for a number of reasons, but it frequently happens as a result of investors' limited capacity to look beyond a company's immediate results, dramatic news stories, or a generalized negative outlook. For instance, as the economy was emerging from the Great Recession in 2010 and 2011, a wave of stock buybacks swept the country.

Many businesses started issuing upbeat predictions for the future, but their stock prices continued to reflect the economic gloom that had dogged them in previous years. By repurchasing shares, these corporations made an investment in themselves in the hopes of profiting when share prices, at last, started to reflect new, more favorable economic realities.

In the event that a stock is significantly undervalued, the issuing firm may choose to repurchase part of its shares at a lower price and then reissue them once the market has recovered, boosting its equity capital without issuing any additional shares. However, if investors feel they have been taken advantage of by a corporation in this way, they can be hesitant to buy the re-issued shares.

If prices remain low, a repurchase and reissue could be a dangerous decision. However, it may make it possible for companies that require long-term capital funding to raise more equity without further eroding stock ownership.

Consider a scenario where a business issues 100,000 shares at $25 each, generating $2.5 million in equity. An unfortunate news story that casts doubt on the company's leadership ethics prompts terrified shareholders to start selling, bringing the share price down to $15. The business chooses to spend $750,000 to repurchase 50,000 shares at $15 each while waiting out the hysteria.

The company continues to be profitable, and in the following quarter, it introduces a brand-new, intriguing product line, pushing the price over the initial selling price to $35 per share. The corporation reissues the 50,000 shares at the new market price after regaining popularity, bringing in a total of $1.75 million in new capital. Due to the short-lived undervaluation of its stock, the corporation was able to increase its equity from $2.5 million to $3.5 million ($2.5 million - $750,000 = $1.75 million + $1.75 million = $3.5 million) without further diluting ownership.

Adjusting the Financial Statements through Stock Buybacks

Another simple strategy to improve a company's appeal to investors is to buy back stock. A company's profits per share (EPS) ratio will naturally rise when the number of outstanding shares is decreased because the annual earnings are now split by a smaller number of existing shares.

For instance, a corporation with 100,000 outstanding shares and annual revenue of $10 million has an EPS of $100. In contrast, if it buys back 10,000 of those shares, bringing its number of outstanding shares down to 90,000, its EPS rises to $111.11 without an increase in earnings.

Additionally, prior to a planned buyback, short-term investors frequently attempt to profit quickly by making an investment in a company. The sudden flood of investors raises the company's price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) and unfairly inflates the stock's valuation. Another significant financial statistic that benefits are the return on equity (ROE) ratio.

A repurchase might be seen as a sign that the company is solvent and no longer requires more equity financing. The market may also conclude that management has sufficient faith in the business to make more investments in it.

Share repurchases are typically viewed as less hazardous than investing in R&D for new technologies or purchasing a competitor; they are a profitable move as long as the business keeps expanding. Additionally, share buybacks are often viewed by investors as a sign that shares will increase in value in the future. Share buybacks may consequently result in a spike in stock purchases from investors.

Issues with Stock Buybacks
The credit rating of a corporation is impacted by a stock buyback if it borrows money to buy back the shares.

Because loan interest is tax deductible, many businesses finance stock buybacks.

Debt commitments, however, deplete cash reserves, which are usually required when the economy turns against a company.

Because of this, credit rating agencies have a negative perception of such-financed stock buybacks: They do not regard raising EPS or profiting from discounted shares as justifications for taking on debt. After such a move, the credit rating is frequently lowered.

Beginning in January 2023, certain circumstances will make publicly traded firms' stock buybacks subject to a 1% excise tax.

The following circumstances apply:

  • If the repurchases total less than $1 million, the tax is not applicable.
  • The taxable value of stock repurchases is decreased by new issues to the general public or employees.
  • The tax is not levied if the repurchase is viewed as a dividend.
  • The excise tax is not applied to regulated investment businesses and real estate investment trusts.
  • Taxes are not tax deductible.
  • Effect of Stock Repurchases on the Economy
    In spite of the aforementioned, buybacks might benefit a corporation. What about the economy overall? Stock repurchases may have a somewhat favorable impact on the national economy. Since they result in higher stock values, they frequently have a considerably more significant, beneficial impact on the financial markets.

However, the actual economy and the stock market are mutually reinforcing in many ways. For instance, studies have demonstrated the "wealth effect," a phenomenon where increases in the stock market have a beneficial impact on consumer confidence, consumption, and significant purchases.

Reduced borrowing rates for firms are another way that advances in the financial markets have an impact on the actual economy. These businesses are then more inclined to invest in R&D or expand their operations. These actions boost hiring and revenue, which in turn helps the household balance sheet to improve. Additionally, they raise the likelihood that customers will be able to borrow more money to start a business or buy a property.

Is a Share Repurchase a Good Idea?

If a company doesn't need to fund expansions or other projects or wants to control the share price in the market, it may benefit from a share repurchase. Repurchases could or could not be advantageous to investors, depending on their objectives and financial situation. However, investors can buy back shares at a cheaper price if a firm repurchases them and then issues them at a lower price, making a profit for themselves.

Who Gains from a Stock Repurchase?

The situation that caused the buyback will determine the answer. The company typically gains from a repurchase, but if a corporation is having trouble, investors may also profit since they can reinvest the money in a more successful business.

What Is the Purpose of a Stock Buyback?

A share repurchase removes outstanding shares from the market and gives investors their money back.

The conclusion

In order to maintain stock prices, bring stock prices back to their true worth, improve financial ratios, or lower the cost of capital, a corporation may repurchase its shares.

Stock buybacks are advantageous to investors because they frequently replace dividends. However, stock repurchases have disadvantages for businesses, such as potential taxes on the buybacks, a drop in credit rating, or a decline in investor confidence.

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2022-12-06  Maliyah Mah