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S&P 500 Buybacks Increase 28.2% in Q4 2020 from Q3 2020; Full Year 2020 down 28.7% from 2019

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NEW YORK, March 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- S&P Dow Jones Indices ("S&P DJI") announced today that preliminary Q4 2020 S&P 500® stock buybacks, or share repurchases, were $130.5 billion, a 28.2% increase from Q3 2020's $101.8 billion, but a year-over-year 28.1% decrease from Q4 2019's $181.6 billion. Full year 2020 buybacks were $519.7 billion, down 28.7% from 2019's $728.7 billion, and down 35.6% from 2018's record 806.4 billion level.

Historical data on S&P 500 buybacks are available at www.spdji.com/indices/equity/sp-500.

Key Takeaways:

  • Q4 2020 share repurchases were $130.5 billion, rebounding 28.2% from Q3 2020's $101.8 billion expenditure, up 47.2% from the Q2 2020 recent low of $88.7 billion, but down 28.1% year-over-year from the pre-COVID Q4 2019's $181.6 billion.

  • 244 companies reported buybacks of at least $5 million for the quarter, up from 190 in Q3 2020 and down from 320 in Q4 2019.

  • Buybacks remained top heavy, with the top 20 issues accounting for 66.3% of Q4 2020 buybacks, down from 77.4% in Q3 2020, 87.2% in Q2 2020, but still up from the historical pre-COVID average of 44.5%.

  • Full year 2020 buybacks were $519.7 billion, a 28.7% decrease from 2019's 728.7 billion, and 35.6% less than the record $806.4 billion in 2018.

  • Buybacks are expected to significantly increase in 2021, as big banks, via Fed approval for Q1 2021, have returned to the buyback market and more companies continue to look to negate stock options.

  • 6.4% of companies reduced share counts by at least 4% year-over-year, down from Q3 2020's 9.6%, and down significantly from Q4 2019's 20.7% (the recent high was in Q1 2016, at 28.2%).

  • S&P 500 Q4 2020 dividends increased 2.9% to $118.8 billion from Q3 2020's $115.5 billion but decreased 5.9% from Q4 2019's $126.4 billion. For 2020, dividends were $480.4 billion, down 1.0% on an aggregate basis from 2019's $485.5 billion.

  • Total shareholder return of buybacks and dividends in Q4 2020 was $249.4 billion, up 14.7% from Q3 2020's $217.3 billion and down 19.0% from Q4 2019's $307.9 billion (Q4 2018 holds the record, at $342.8 billion).

  • Total shareholder return in 2020 declined to $1.00 trillion from 2019's $1.214 trillion.

"More companies ventured back into the buyback market as they sought shares to cover employee options being exercised and prevent dilution. That, combined with buying from cash-flow strong companies, resulted in a buyback rebound in the fourth quarter," said Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

2021 Outlook:

Silverblatt added, "More companies are expected to venture back into the buyback market – initially to cover stock options, and then, depending on cash-flow, to reduce share count and increase earnings-per-share. Big-banks, which received Fed Q1 2021 approval to resume buybacks, are expected to significantly increase their 2020 expenditure of $80.7 billion, most of which – $46.6 billion – was done in the pre-COVID Q1 2020 period, subject to Fed approval."

Q4 2020 GICS® Sector Analysis:

Information Technology continued to lead and dominate in buybacks, even as their share declined to 42.9% of all S&P 500 buybacks from Q3 2020's 48.9%, partially due to a higher buyback participation rate in the S&P 500. For the quarter, the sector spent $56.1 billion, up 12.8% from the prior quarter's $49.7 billion, and up 7.0% from the Q4 2019 $52.4 billion level. For 2020, the group spent $201.9 billion, representing 38.8% of the buybacks, down from 2019's $224.9 billion expenditure, which represented 30.9% of the buybacks.

Financial buybacks, which were slightly trailing Information Technology pre-COVID, slightly increased to $13.6 billion, or 10.4% of the buybacks, from the Q3 2020 $12.1 billion, and were significantly down from the Q4 2019 $50.2 billion. For 2020, the group spent $80.7 billion, representing 15.5% of all buybacks, down 54.8% from their 2019 expenditure of $178.7 billion, which represented 24.5% of the buybacks. For 2021, big-banks are expected to return to the buyback market, and significantly increase their expenditures. Of note, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, spent $9.0 billion on buybacks in Q4, the same as it did in Q3, as it spent $24.7 billion for the year, compared to $4.9 billion in 2019.

Health Care returned to spend $15.0 billion for the quarter, representing 11.5% of the buybacks, up 98.9% from their Q3 2020 $7.6 billion expenditure. For 2020, the sector spent $54.1 billion, representing 10.4% of the buybacks, down from the $83.9 billion spent in 2019, when it represented 11.5% of the buybacks.

Issues:

The five issues with the highest total buybacks for Q4 2020 are:

  • Apple (AAPL) continued to be the poster-child for buybacks, spending $27.6 billion in Q4 2020, setting a new record for any company in S&P 500 history, as the level was up from their Q3 2020 $17.6 billion expenditure and their Q4 2019 $22.1 billion level. For 2020, Apple has spent $81.5 billion on buybacks, down a tick from 2019's $81.7 billion. Over the five-year period, they have spent $307.2 billion and $423.0 billion over the ten-year period.

  • Berkshire Hathaway (BRK), was next (permitting some to dare to dream of a dividend): $9.0 billion for Q4 2020, the same level as Q3 2020; for 2020 they spent $24.7 billion versus $4.9 billion.

  • Alphabet (GOOG/L): $7.9 billion for Q4 2020, also the same as their Q3 2020 expenditure; for 2020 they spent $31.1 billion versus $18.4 billion.

  • Microsoft (MSFT): $6.5 billion for Q4 2020, down from the $6.7 billion spent in Q3 2020; for 2020 they spent $26.1 billion versus $19.5 billion.

  • Charter Communications (CHTR): $4.4 billion for Q4 20120, up from $3.4 billion in Q3 2020; for 2020 they spent $11.2 billion versus $6.9 billion.

For more information about S&P Dow Jones Indices, please visit www.spdji.com.

S&P Dow Jones Indices








S&P 500, $ U.S. BILLIONS


(estimates in bold)






PERIOD

MARKET

OPERATING

AS REPORTED





DIVIDEND &


VALUE

EARNINGS

EARNINGS

DIVIDENDS

BUYBACKS

DIVIDEND

BUYBACK

BUYBACK


$ BILLIONS

$ BILLIONS

$ BILLIONS

$ BILLIONS

$ BILLIONS

YIELD

YIELD

YIELD

2020Prelim.

$31,658.70

$1,019.04

$784.12

$480.40

$519.69

1.52%

1.64%

3.16%

2019

$26,759.69

$1,304.76

$1,158.22

$485.48

$728.74

1.81%

2.72%

4.54%

2018

$21,026.90

$1,281.66

$1,119.43

$456.31

$806.41

2.17%

3.84%

6.01%

2017

$22,821.24

$1,066.00

$940.86

$419.77

$519.40

1.84%

2.28%

4.12%

2016

$19,267.93

$919.85

$818.55

$397.21

$536.38

2.06%

2.78%

4.85%










12/31/2020 Prelim.

$31,659

$321.81

$264.91

$118.84

$130.52

1.52%

1.64%

3.16%

9/30/2020

$27,868

$314.06

$273.29

$115.54

$101.79

1.75%

2.05%

3.80%

6/30/2020

$25,637

$221.53

$147.44

$119.04

$88.66

1.93%

2.52%

4.45%

3/31/2020

$21,424

$161.64

$98.48

$126.98

$198.72

2.31%

3.37%

5.68%

12/31/2019

$26,760

$324.52

$294.29

$126.35

$181.58

1.81%

2.72%

4.54%

9/30/2019

$24,707

$330.42

$282.12

$123.12

$175.89

1.94%

3.12%

5.06%

6/28/2019

$24,423

$333.26

$290.00

$118.68

$165.46

1.93%

3.27%

5.20%

3/29/2019

$23,619

$316.56

$291.82

$117.33

$205.81

1.97%

3.49%

5.45%

12/31/2018

$21,027

$293.82

$242.91

$119.81

$222.98

2.17%

3.84%

6.01%

9/30/2018

$24,579

$349.04

$306.70

$115.72

$203.76

1.81%

2.93%

4.75%

6/30/2018

$23,036

$327.53

$288.55

$111.60

$190.62

1.89%

2.80%

4.69%

3/29/2018

$22,496

$311.26

$281.28

$109.18

$189.05

1.90%

2.56%

4.46%

12/29/2017

$22,821

$288.93

$230.12

$109.46

$136.97

1.84%

2.28%

4.12%

9/29/2017

$21,579

$268.35

$243.68

$105.45

$129.17

1.92%

2.40%

4.32%

6/30/2017

$20,762

$261.39

$231.40

$104.01

$120.11

1.96%

2.41%

4.37%

3/31/2017

$20,276

$247.32

$235.65

$100.86

$133.15

1.98%

2.51%

4.49%

12/31/2016

$19,268

$240.11

$207.93

$103.82

$135.29

2.06%

2.78%

4.85%

S&P Dow Jones Indices










S&P 500 SECTOR BUYBACKS










SECTOR $ MILLIONS

Q4,'20

Q3,'20

Q4,'19

2020

2019

5-YEARS

10-YEARS

Q4,'18

Q2,'20









(high)

(recent low)

Consumer Discretionary

$8,863

$3,247

$16,620

$29,514

$68,476

$357,762

$738,968

$25,652

$1,317

Consumer Staples

$8,720

$4,231

$9,429

$19,742

$33,838

$181,301

$407,418

$9,588

$1,514

Energy

$334

$66

$5,025

$4,321

$18,750

$71,996

$249,907

$8,698

$60

Financials

$13,601

$12,101

$50,232

$80,685

$178,685

$638,249

$964,426

$45,641

$8,346

Healthcare

$15,018

$7,551

$20,041

$54,082

$83,864

$399,207

$718,573

$31,336

$10,706

Industrials

$7,235

$3,442

$10,218

$33,230

$60,792

$301,986

$573,757

$23,026

$1,816

Information Technology

$56,085

$49,728

$52,432

$201,851

$224,847

$943,530

$1,532,697

$61,298

$36,900

Materials

$2,593

$785

$3,117

$8,113

$15,709

$52,466

$119,990

$5,857

$184

Real Estate

$732

$406

$573

$2,661

$2,230

$13,263

$13,263

$1,480

$204

Communication Services

$16,581

$17,316

$13,687

$81,446

$38,192

$140,889

$177,512

$9,556

$27,548

Utilities

$831

$2,914

$211

$4,115

$3,355

$10,038

$19,184

$850

$67

TOTAL

$130,592

$101,786

$181,583

$519,762

$728,738

$3,110,687

$5,515,696

$222,980

$88,661











SECTOR BUYBACK MAKEUP %

Q4,'20

Q3,'20

Q4,'19

2020

2019

5-YEARS

10-YEARS

Q4,'18

Q2,'20

Consumer Discretionary

6.79%

3.19%

9.15%

5.68%

9.40%

11.50%

13.40%

11.50%

1.49%

Consumer Staples

6.68%

4.16%

5.19%

3.80%

4.64%

5.83%

7.39%

4.30%

1.71%

Energy

0.26%

0.06%

2.77%

0.83%

2.57%

2.31%

4.53%

3.90%

0.07%

Financials

10.41%

11.89%

27.66%

15.52%

24.52%

20.52%

17.49%

20.47%

9.41%

Healthcare

11.50%

7.42%

11.04%

10.41%

11.51%

12.83%

13.03%

14.05%

12.07%

Industrials

5.54%

3.38%

5.63%

6.39%

8.34%

9.71%

10.40%

10.33%

2.05%

Information Technology

42.95%

48.85%

28.88%

38.84%

30.85%

30.33%

27.79%

27.49%

41.62%

Materials

1.99%

0.77%

1.72%

1.56%

2.16%

1.69%

2.18%

2.63%

0.21%

Real Estate

0.56%

0.40%

0.32%

0.51%

0.31%

0.43%

0.24%

0.66%

0.23%

Communication Services

12.70%

17.01%

7.54%

15.67%

5.24%

4.53%

3.22%

4.29%

31.07%

Utilities

0.64%

2.86%

0.12%

0.79%

0.46%

0.32%

0.35%

0.38%

0.08%

TOTAL

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

100.00%

S&P Dow Jones Indices










S&P 500 20 LARGEST Q4 2020 BUYBACKS, $ MILLIONS








Company

Ticker

Sector

Q4 2020

Q3 2020

Q4 2019

12-Months

12-Months

5-Year

10-Year

Indicated




Buybacks

Buybacks

Buybacks

2020

2019

Buybacks

Buybacks

Dividend




$ Million

$ Million

$ Million

$ Million

$ Million

$ Million

$ Million

$ Million

Apple

AAPL

Information Technology

$27,636

$17,587

$22,085

$81,543

$81,685

$307,213

$423,038

$14,831

Berkshire Hathaway

BRK.b

Financials

$8,994

$8,973

$2,043

$24,706

$4,850

$30,902

$30,969

$0

Alphabet

GOOGL

Communication Services

$7,904

$7,897

$6,098

$31,149

$18,396

$67,159

$69,055

$0

Microsoft

MSFT

Information Technology

$6,535

$6,743

$5,206

$26,128

$19,504

$85,832

$128,519

$16,936

Charter Communications

CHTR

Communication Services

$4,349

$3,361

$2,305

$11,217

$6,873

$35,766

$36,582

$0

Oracle

ORCL

Information Technology

$4,059

$5,423

$5,036

$18,832

$26,857

$85,921

$127,703

$6,117

Lowe's

LOW

Consumer Discretionary

$3,443

$562

$664

$4,971

$4,313

$19,108

$37,978

$1,759

Facebook

FB

Communication Services

$3,049

$2,725

$1,923

$9,836

$6,539

$37,690

$41,515

$0

Procter & Gamble

PG

Consumer Staples

$3,008

$2,000

$3,504

$5,909

$9,504

$29,124

$54,406

$7,836

Intel

INTC

Information Technology

$2,000

$8,000

$3,523

$14,229

$13,623

$45,204

$81,661

$5,696

Visa

V

Information Technology

$1,930

$1,544

$2,517

$7,687

$8,741

$38,328

$55,503

$2,170

Humana

HUM

Health Care

$1,790

$5

$60

$1,820

$1,070

$7,451

$10,338

$371

UnitedHealth Group

UNH

Health Care

$1,709

$850

$399

$4,250

$5,500

$17,030

$31,486

$4,744

Cigna

CI

Health Care

$1,690

$1,028

$447

$4,042

$1,987

$9,235

$12,954

$1,445

Honeywell International

HON

Industrials

$1,565

$164

$750

$3,714

$4,400

$17,082

$21,860

$2,610

Bristol-Myers Squibb

BMY

Health Care

$1,465

$0

$7,000

$1,546

$7,300

$11,866

$15,928

$4,429

Walmart

WMT

Consumer Staples

$1,439

$463

$888

$2,625

$5,717

$32,346

$54,986

$12,703

HP

HPQ

Information Technology

$1,378

$1,340

$691

$3,794

$2,376

$11,223

$28,308

$1,071

Anthem

ANTM

Health Care

$1,374

$759

$307

$2,828

$1,785

$8,489

$19,042

$1,124

Amgen

AMGN

Health Care

$1,205

$765

$1,094

$3,486

$7,702

$35,684

$51,844

$4,098

Top 20



$86,522

$70,189

$66,540

$264,312

$238,722

$932,653

$1,333,675

$87,941

S&P 500



$130,525

$101,786

$181,583

$519,694

$728,738

$3,110,620

$5,515,629

$532,003

Top 20 % of S&P 500



66.29%

68.96%

36.64%

50.86%

32.76%

29.98%

24.18%

16.53%

Gross values are not adjusted for float









S&P Dow Jones Indices




S&P 500 20 Largest Quarterly Buybacks, $ Millions; Apple set a new index record

$ MILLIONS

QUARTER

COMPANY

SECTOR


$27,636

Q4 2020

Apple

Information Technology

1

$23,811

Q1 2019

Apple

Information Technology

2

$22,908

Q1 2018

Apple

Information Technology

3

$22,085

Q4 2019

Apple

Information Technology

4

$21,860

Q2 2018

Apple

Information Technology

5

$21,162

Q2 2006

QUALCOMM

Information Technology

6

$19,364

Q3 2018

Apple

Information Technology

7

$18,761

Q1 2020

Apple

Information Technology

8

$18,154

Q2 2019

Apple

Information Technology

9

$18,036

Q1 2014

Apple

Information Technology

10

$17,635

Q3 2019

Apple

Information Technology

11

$17,587

Q3,2020

Apple

Information Technology

12

$17,559

Q2 2020

Apple

Information Technology

13

$17,319

Q3 2014

Apple

Information Technology

14

$17,128

Q2 2020

T-Mobile

Communication Services

15

$16,413

Q2 2013

Apple

Information Technology

16

$15,707

Q3 2007

Internat'l Bus Machines

Information Technology

17

$13,420

Q3 2015

Apple

Information Technology

18

$12,852

Q4 2013

Johnson & Johnson

Healthcare

19

$12,318

Q4 2016

Allergan plc (AGN)

Healthcare

20

S&P Dow Jones Indices





S&P 500 Q4 2020 Buyback Report









SECTOR

DIVIDEND

BUYBACK

COMBINED



YIELD

YIELD

YIELD


Consumer Discretionary

0.66%

0.71%

1.37%


Consumer Staples

3.52%

1.00%

4.52%


Energy

4.31%

0.42%

4.73%


Financials

1.97%

2.09%

4.06%


HealthCare

1.76%

1.26%

3.02%


Industrials

1.53%

1.14%

2.67%


Information Technology

1.01%

2.25%

3.26%


Materials

1.96%

0.90%

2.86%


Real Estate

2.93%

0.32%

3.25%


Communications Services

1.07%

2.62%

3.69%


Utilities

3.34%

0.48%

3.82%


S&P 500

1.62%

1.58%

3.20%


Uses full values (unadjusted for float)




Dividends based on indicated; buybacks based on the last 12-months ending Q4,'20

Share Count Changes



(Y/Y diluted shares used for EPS)

>=4%

<=-4%

Q4 2020

8.62%

6.41%

Q3 2020

8.62%

9.62%

Q2 2020

8.60%

17.80%

Q1 2020

8.00%

19.60%

Q4 2019

7.63%

20.68%

Q3 2019

8.62%

22.85%

Q2 2019

7.98%

24.15%

Q1 2019

8.03%

24.90%

Q4 2018

8.45%

18.71%

Q3 2018

6.43%

17.67%

Q2 2018

6.20%

15.60%

Q1 2018

7.01%

13.63%

Q4 2017

6.83%

15.06%

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