When a company has difficulty growing revenues to achieve their EPS goals (to trigger stock awards and bonuses) they can still hit those goals by doing a buyback and decreasing the denominator # of shares. It's a way to take $ belonging to ALL shareholders and dedicate it to the benefit of an inside FEW. You can benefit too but you'll have to sell your shares at the EPS peak and then re-buy lower when the smoke clears...and deal with the taxes on your capital gains. XOM is one of the worst offenders. I don't think they even care what the market thinks of their stock so long as they can award themselves huge numbers of shares at low strike prices and then use the buyback pool to guarantee personal success. Common shareholders...you're out in the cold.