Sixty companies in the S&P 500 announced share buyback programs worth at least $1 billion so far this year. Within the group, the biggest buying back came from Johnson & Johnson, repurchasing $12.9 billion worth of stock.
American International Group is also high on the list as the U.S. Treasury sold its remaining stake in the company last week, booking a total profit of about $23 billion.
Shares of the insurance company are up 53 percent in 2012, significantly outperforming the overall market, which is up 15 percent. In fact, of the 15 companies that have bought back stock at the fastest pace, only one is down for the year: International Game Technology.
The largest announcement this year belongs to Philip Morris International, planning to repurchase up to $18 billion worth of stock in the next three years. So far in 2012, however, the company has bought back only 5 percent of that amount.