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MarketWatch MarketPulseDec 18, 2018
Stock buybacks soar 58% in Q3 as companies use tax savings to boost shareholder returns
Share repurchases during the third quarter by companies in the S&P 500 soared 58% from a year ago to a quarterly record of $203.8 billion, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. That marks the third consecutive quarterly record, a sign that companies were using savings from the corporate tax rate cut that went into effect this year to ramp up shareholder returns. The percentage of companies that used buyback to reduced the number of outstanding shares by at least 4% increased 18%, after rising 15% in the second quarter. "Companies have used their tax savings to push up discretionary buybacks and boost earnings through significantly reduced share counts," said S&P Dow Jones Senior Index Analyst Howard Silverblatt. "The buying, while broad, continued to be top heavy, with the top 20 issues accounting for 54.3% of all S&P 500 buybacks, a level not seen since Q1 2010, when it was at 59.8%." The top share repurchases were Qualcomm Inc. , which bought back $21.1 billion worth of its shares during the third quarter, followed by Apple Inc. , which spent $19.4 billion.

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