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Stock repurchases reach longest quarterly record streak on record--S&P Dow Jones Indices

Tomi Kilgore

Stock repurchases during the fourth quarter set a fourth-consecutive quarterly record for S&P 500 companies, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices, the longest such streak in the 20 years that records have been tracked. Fourth-quarter buybacks totaled $223.0 billion, up 62.8% from $137.0 billion in the same period a year ago, and 9.4% more than the previous record of $203.8 billion in the third quarter. For the year, repurchases set an annual record of $806.4 billion, up 55.3% from 2017. Total shareholder returns, including dividends, rose 34.5% to $1.26 trillion. "Companies continued to spend more of their tax savings on these share repurchases as they boosted earnings through significantly reduced share counts," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Adding to the share reduction, and therefore the EPS impact, was Q4's stock price decline, which permitted companies to buy even more shares for their dollars and reduce share count more efficiently." The S&P 500 has tumbled 14.0% during the fourth quarter, the biggest quarterly decline since it shed 14.3% during the third quarter of 2011.