Alliance Data Systems Corporation’s ADS board of directors authorized a share repurchase program worth $1.1 billion. The company had exhausted its earlier share buyback authorization of $500 million in the first quarter of 2019, after buying back 1.3 million shares for $223 million.
Alliance Data intends to finance the repurchase through free cash flow that includes proceeds from divestiture of the Epsilon business last month. The company expects the divestiture to provide significant liquidity for returning capital to shareholders and improve capital structure besides helping it focus on its Card Service segment.
Further, Alliance Data expects “to maintain moderate levels of debt over the course of the repurchase program, providing flexibility to pursue portfolio purchases.” The company uses share repurchases as a tool to mitigate the adverse impact of foreign exchange and intends to focus more on share buybacks, followed by mergers and acquisitions.
The latest move reaffirms this Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) private-label credit card processing company’s commitment to enhance shareholders’ value through share buybacks and dividend payouts. In fact, during fourth-quarter 2016, Alliance Data initiated a quarterly dividend, incorporating a major change in its shareholders return policy.
Also, its return on equity, a profitability measure of how efficiently the company is utilizing its shareholders' money, is 53.5%, which is higher than the industry average of 45.4%. The company also targets return on equity of more than 30%.
The company estimates core EPS of $18.75 for 2019. Lower share count, owing to continued buybacks, will partly help it achieve its guidance.
Shares of Alliance Data have gained 5.6% quarter to date, outperforming the industry’s growth of 3.9%. The company’s high-ROI Card Service segment, solid inorganic background, focus on balance-sheet strengthening for financial flexibility and capital deployment efforts will help the stock move up.
Stocks to Consider
Some better-ranked stocks from the same space are Green Dot Corporation GDOT, Visa Inc. V and EVO Payments, Inc. EVOP. All the stocks currently carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Visa operates as a payments technology company worldwide. The company delivered positive earnings surprise of 5.65% in the last reported quarter.
Green Dot operates as a financial technology and bank holding company in the United States. It delivered positive earnings surprise of 6.34% in the last reported quarter.
EVO Payments operates as an integrated merchant acquirer and payment processor, servicing approximately 550,000 merchants. The company delivered positive earnings surprise of 100.00% in the last reported quarter.
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